Met Auditions Florida District
Darren K. Woods, General Director of Fort Worth Opera, began his tenure at Fort Worth Opera in 2001. Since then, the company continues to benefit from an increased subscription and donor base, a restructured festival format, and a devotion to new American opera. Considered a leading expert in producing 21st-century opera composition, Mr. Woods was hailed by Opera News in 2012 as one of this decade’s 25 most influential industry professionals. In addition to mainstage opera productions, Fort Worth Opera launched a contemporary chamber opera series in 2008 called Opera Unbound, and in 2013, Mr. Woods further advanced the company’s commitment to new work by starting Frontiers, a composer–librettist competition designed to identify new, developing operas. He has served on the board of OPERA America as a Vice President of Artistic Services. He has served as General Director of Shreveport Opera and General and Artistic Director of Seagle Music Colony. Mr. Woods frequently judges vocal competitions including the Richard Tucker Foundation, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Lieber Competition, Denver Opera Guild Competition, Dallas Opera Guild Competition, and Marguerite McCammon Competition. Prior to his management positions, Mr. Woods performed nationally and internationally as an operatic tenor for twenty years.
Jane Bunnell, mezzo-soprano, has enjoyed an illustrious international career for almost 30 years. She has an especially long association with the Metropolitan Opera where she has sung 30 roles in more than 400 performances over 25 years, including new productions of Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Otello, Les Troyens, Faust, Roméo et Juliette and the Metropolitan Opera Premieres of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Wolf-Ferrari’s Sly. She has also recorded with the Met for Sony/BMG and has toured to Europe and Japan.
She has sung with the Saito Kinen Festival, with the opera companies of Toulouse, Vienna, Cologne and Schwetzingen and with such American opera companies as Houston Grand Opera, San Diego Opera, Minnesota Opera, Florida Grand Opera and New York City Opera. She has collaborated with such notable conductors as James Levine, Valery Gergiev, Seiji Ozawa, Andrew Davis and Robert Shaw, and has appeared in concert with the Boston Symphony, Lincoln Centers Mostly Mozart Festival, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra. Ms. Bunnell was on the faculty of New York University for nine years and on the faculty at DePaul University School of Music from 2006 to 2015. She joined the faculty at Michigan State University's College of Music in August 2015 as professor of voice.
Joseph Mechavich is a conductor known for the exceptional artistry and infectious energy which he brings to every performance. His passion and commitment to excellence in the art form has helped him to forge strong personal and career-defining relationships with a number of opera companies and orchestras in the United States and abroad. Maestro Mechavich has presided over productions of Porgy and Bess for Deutsche Oper Berlin, Nixon In China for Auckland Philharmonia/New Zealand Opera, Il barbiere di Siviglia for The Washington National Opera, Madama Butterfly for New York City Opera, Florencia en el Amazonas for Arizona Opera and Roméo et Juliette for Florida Grand Opera. “One of the best things about this production [Roméo et Juliette] is the conducting of Joseph Mechavich, who led the proceedings superbly...You rarely hear this score with the kind of big-boned force with which Gounod wrote it, but Mechavich let it rip, with first rate results.” (Palm Beach Artspaper). Upcoming engagements for the 2016-17 Season are Turandot for Calgary Opera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail for Dayton Opera as well as Madama Butterfly and Die Entführung aus dem Serail for Kentucky Opera.
In addition to his impressive command of the standard operatic repertoire, Maestro Mechavich is also known for his deep commitment to American opera. Of his Nixon in China at San Diego Opera, Broadway World extolled “The expertise in 21st century operatic repertoire that conductor Joseph Mechavich demonstrated in 2012’s Moby-Dick has surely increased exponentially as portrayed in his rendering of John Adam’s complex score. Mechavich showed great command and sensitivity throughout, both controlling and supporting the orchestra in their task of performing parts that were most difficult and intricate." Mo. Mechavich is a champion of the music of Carlisle Floyd and Jake Heggie. He has conducted productions of Floyd's Susannah, Of Mice and Men, and Cold Sassy Tree and recorded Wuthering Heights which is the first recording in a multi-year project to record Floyd's unrecorded operas. Of his recoding of Wuthering Heights, Milwaukee Magazine states "but the real star here is Mechavich, who guided the orchestra and voices through Carlisle Floyd’s often tempestuous orchestrations. He and the orchestra painted wonderful sonic pictures, but always in the service of the story and drama.” Mo. Mechavich has conducted highly acclaimed productions by Jake Heggie such as Moby-Dick, Great Scott, Out of Darkness and in coming seasons Dead Man Walking. In an interview with Classical Singer Magazine Heggie enthuses, “Joey is the very best kind of opera conductor…A real theater man who understands that dramatic pacing is absolutely everything. He’s a wonderful storyteller with baton in hand. He loves singers, loves words, loves the stage, loves the orchestra, and forces collectively to tell compelling stories…”
In past seasons Maestro Mechavich has conducted highly recognized productions for Calgary Opera, Utah Opera, The Aspen Music Festival, Tulsa Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Dayton Opera, Madison Opera, New England Conservatory of Music, Oberlin Opera Theatre, Opera Saratoga and Virginia Opera. On the concert stage, Maestro Mechavich has appeared with the Florida Orchestra, The Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, Waterbury Symphony, Virginia Symphony and the Sarasota Orchestra.
In 2010, Maestro Mechavich was named Principal Conductor of Kentucky Opera. Previously, he held the position of Principal Conductor for Opera Birmingham from 2004-2010, Director of Music for Orlando Opera from 1998- 2000 and served as cover conductor for The Santa Fe Opera from 2004-2007. A native of Long Lake, Minnesota, he studied at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and the Yale University School of Music.
Swantje Knye-Levin, District Director
Joan Travis, Auditions Manager
Rita Wilkes, Stage Manager
Fran Falcone, Stage Manager
Bea Hancock, House Manager
Julia Foster Rottmayer
Trinity Preparatory School Students