Written by AVA Administrative Associate Stephen J. Trygar
This year, the Academy of Vocal Arts is celebrating it 85th anniversary! To celebrate this incredible achievement, our quinquennial BrAVA Gala and Concert is bigger than ever! We will be returning opera back to The Met Philadelphia for the first time in over 80 years! Furthermore, we have a line-up of incredible guest singers! The concert will be featuring a full orchestra behind these guests, conducted by AVA’s Jeannine B. Cowles Music Director Chair Maestro Christofer Macatsoris. Tickets can be purchased online through The Met Philadelphia/Live Nation or by visiting the Met Philadelphia’s box office. For a list of other box offices to purchase these tickets at, as well as more information about this concert, please visit the AVA website!
Each of our guest artists for this year’s BrAVA Gala is important to us. We are so excited to bring them back and share their voices with our audience again! Because they are each so important to us, they are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Jared Bybee, baritone
Jared Bybee graduated from AVA in 2017. While a Resident Artist here, Mr. Bybee performed in several roles, such as Lord Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, Michele in Il tabarro, Valentin in Faust, Prince Yeletsky in Pique Dame, and several others. Mr. Bybee came to us from Modesto, California with a B.S. in Economics and Music Minor from the University of Utah and having attended the Conservatory of Music at University of the Pacific. Below is a clip of Mr. Bybee singing an excerpt from L’amore dei tre re as Manfredo at one of AVA’s opera previews.
As well as his engagement in our 2020 BrAVA Gala concert, Mr. Bybee is currently preparing for a benefit concert with the Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia this April and the title role of Don Giovanni with Seattle Opera in January of 2021. Most recently he aired in Season 2, Episode 13: Payback in CBS’s crime drama FBI. Furthermore, he performed as The Pilot in Utah Opera’s production of The Little Prince in 2019.
André Courville, bass-baritone
André Courville graduated from AVA in 2017. While a Resident Artist here, Mr. Courville performed in a variety of different roles, such as the Old Servant in The Demon, Archibaldo in L’amore dei tre re, Mustafà in L’italiana in Algeri, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, and several other roles. He was also the First Prize winner of the 2014 Giargiari Bel Canto Competition. Mr. Courville came to us from Lafayette, Louisiana with a degree in Vocal Performance from Loyola University. Below is a clip of Mr. Courville singing an excerpt from Faust as Méphistophélès at one of AVA’s opera previews.
Aside from Mr. Courville performing at our 2020 BrAVA Gala concert, he has recently performed in Opera di Firenze’s production of Fernand Cortez as Le Grand Prêtre des Mexicains in October, 2019. Later this month he will be performing the role of Figaro in the Kentucky Opera production of Le nozze di Figaro, and later this year he will be shifting to the roles of Bartolo and Antonio in the productions of that same opera at both Opéra National de Bordeaux and Les Musiciens du Louvre.
Bryan Hymel, tenor
Bryan Hymel, currently co-Vice President and Global and Artistic Outreach, graduated from AVA in 2008. While a Resident Artist here, Mr. Hymel performed several roles, such as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Araquil in La Navarraise, Max in Der Freischütz, and other roles. Mr. Hymel is a native of New Orleans and he came to us with a B.M. in Vocal Performance from Loyola University. Below is a video of Mr. Hymel singing an excerpt from Guillaume Tell as an alumnus with the men of AVA in a Gala “Viva la Voce” concert in 2012.
Most recently, Mr. Hymel performed as Faust in the Metropolitan Opera’s performance of Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust. This April and May, he will be joining the cast of Opera Philadelphia’s Madama Butterfly as Lt. Pinkerton, and shortly after he will perform as Arrigo in an Italian version of Les vêpres siciliennes at Opernhaus Zürich.
Hannah Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Hanna Ludwig graduated from AVA in 2018. While she was a Resident Artist here, she performed in a wide variety of roles, such as the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, the Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte, Charlotte in Werther, Azucena in Il trovatore, and several others. Ms. Ludwig came to us from Sacramento, California with a B.M. in Vocal Performance from University of the Pacific. Below is a clip of Ms. Ludwig singing an excerpt from Il tabarro as Azucena at one of AVA’s opera previews.
Ms. Ludwig recently made her debut at The Dallas Opera as the Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte. Later this month, she will be making her company and role debuts in Baltimore Concert Opera’s Anna Bolenna as Giovanna Seymour. After performing in our 2020 BrAVA Gala concert, Ms. Ludwig will make her international debut as the mezzo-soprano soloist in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with The Orquesta Filarmónica de Buenos Aires at The Teatro Colón.
Angela Meade, soprano
Angela Meade graduated from AVA in 2009. While she was a Resident Artist here, she performed in several roles, such as Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Agathe in Der Freischütz, the title roles in Lucia di Lammermoor and Anna Bolena, and others. She was also the First Prize winner of the 2007 Giargiari Bel Canto Competition. Ms. Meade came to us from Centralia, Washington with a B.M. in Voice from Pacific Lutheran University and a M.M. in Voice from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. Below is a clip of Ms. Meade performing Lucia with Michael Fabiano as Edgardo in AVA’s 2009 production of Lucia di Lammermoor.
Later this month, Ms. Meade will perform as the title role of Norma at the Teatro di San Carlo. After performing in our 2020 BrAVA Gala concert, she will hold a recital of music by Verdi, R. Strauss, Bellini, and Meyerbeer at Opera Las Vegas in April, and then will sing the title role of Anna Bolena at ABAO Bilbao in May. Furthermore, Ms. Meade will take on Imogene in Il pirata at the Teatro Massimo di Palermo.
Latonia Moore, soprano
Latonia Moore graduated from AVA in 2004. While she was a Resident Artist here, she performed in a variety of roles such as Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, the title role of Lucrezia Borgia, Fidelia in Edgar, Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, and other roles. Ms. Moore also tied for First Prize in the 2000 Giargiari Bel Canto Competition with Burak Bilgili. She came to us from Houston, Texas with a degree from the University of North Texas. Below is a clip from Ms. Moore’s appearance at 2010 BrAVA Gala concert as a guest artist singing an aria from Andrea Chénier.
As well as participating in our 2020 BrAVA Gala concert, Ms. Moore is scheduled to perform in the title role of Tosca at L’Opéra de Rouen Normandie in early March. She has also recently taken on the role of Serena in Porgy and Bess with several companies, such as the Metropolitan Opera, English National Opera, and De Nationale Opera Amsterdam, and Washington National Opera. She will also staring as Patience in the the world premiere of Castor and Patience at Cincinnati Opera.
Taylor Stayton, tenor
Taylor Stayton graduated from AVA in 2011. While he was a Resident Artist here, he performed in several roles, including Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Lord Riccardo in Anna Bolena, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, one of the Italian Singers in Capriccio, and others. Mr. Stayton came to us from Sidney, Ohio with a Bachelor of Music from Ohio State University. Below is a clip of Mr. Stayton performing Ernesto in AVA’s 2008 production of Don Pasquale.
Before he comes to perform at the 2020 BrAVA Gala concert, Mr. Stayton will take on the role of Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia in late February/early March at Palm Beach Opera. Shortly after, he will sing as a soloist in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performances of Orff’s Carmina Burana. In April, he will revisit his role as Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Semperoper Dresen. Finally, in June/July he will perform the title role of Des Moines Metro Opera’s Platée.
Vanessa Vasquez, soprano
Vanessa Vasquez graduated from AVA in 2018. While she was a Resident Artist here, she performed in several roles, such as Violetta in La traviata, Gilda in Rigoletto, Giorgetta in Il tabarro, Mimì in La bohème, and other roles. She was also the First Prize winner of the 2015 Giargiari Bel Canto Competition. Ms. Vasquez comes to us from Scottsdale, Arizona with a B. A. in Vocal Performance from The Catholic University of America and an M.M. in Opera Performance from the University of Los Angeles (UCLA). Below is a clip of Ms. Vasquez singing an excerpt from Rigoletto as Gilda at one of AVA’s opera previews.
Together with the 2020 BrAVA Gala concert, Ms. Vasquez’s season includes performing the roles of Liù in Turandot with the Canadian Opera Company and Mimì in La bohème with Seattle Opera. Furthermore, she will be making her debut with the Washington National Opera with the role of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Recently she debuted with Arizona as Violetta in La traviata, and she also debuted at both The Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia as Mimì in La bohème.