Mary Elizabeth Williams to give masterclass at Luther Oct. 19

International operatic soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams will perform a brief recital and conduct a voice masterclass at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, in the Jenson-Noble Recital Hall on the Luther College campus.

The event, sponsored in part by funding through an endowment from Alan and Sally Brudos, is open to the public with no charge for admission.

The masterclass features vocal students Evelyn Galstad, sophomore soprano; Marie Sauze, senior soprano; and Mason Montuoro, senior tenor. Assistant Professor Nicholas Shaneyfelt, Luther College faculty collaborative pianist, will assist Williams and masterclass participants. The masterclass concludes with a discussion of different aspects of preparing for an operatic career.

A 1997 graduate of Luther, Williams will arrive in Decorah having just completed performances as Desdemona in Verdi's opera "Otello" in Atlanta, Georgia. As a student at Luther, she studied voice with David Greedy and vocal coaching with Jessica Paul. After graduating from Luther with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, she began her first professional singing engagement with the national Broadway production of "Showboat," which toured nine U.S. cities in 12 months.

Williams began her operatic career after completing young artist contracts at both Seattle Opera and the Opéra National de Paris, quickly making a name for herself in spinto soprano roles such as Tosca, Aida and Leonora in "Il Trovatore." Since 2013, she has gradually added more demanding dramatic coloratura roles to her repertoire, and now is a sought-after interpreter of Abigaille ("Nabucco"), Lady Macbeth ("Macbeth"), and the title role in "Norma." She made her La Scala ("Milano") debut to great acclaim in November 2016 with the role of Serena in "Porgy and Bess."

While performing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she met Constance Haas, the voice teacher with whom she currently studies. A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, her career has taken her all over the globe, including a recurring role as a regular guest artist for Theater St. Gallen in Switzerland.

She lives in Italy with her husband, tenor Lorenzo Decaro.

Luther is home to one of the largest collegiate music programs in the nation, with six choirs, three orchestras, three bands, two jazz bands and more than 800 student musicians. Luther students participate in large ensembles, faculty-coached chamber groups, private lessons and master classes. Nearly 275 music majors study music theory, ear training, history, education, composition, jazz, church music and performance.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

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