Artist of the month, April 2019


Russell Thomas – “a tenor of gorgeously burnished power…”
– New York Times

“Opera has been unapologetically elitist – but that doesn’t mean that it’s not accessible. We need to think of it as, ‘Is this something that I can relate to?’ Who can’t relate to being loved or loving somebody? Who can’t relate to death or losing someone they love? Who can’t relate to war, especially today? Anyone can relate to these things. That’s what makes opera accessible.”
– Russell Thomas

Russell Thomas on Opera News cover

Russell Thomas headshot

With a “heroically shining tone of exceptional clarity and precision” (Opera Magazine) and “gorgeously burnished power” (The New York Times), American tenor Russell Thomas uses his signature elegance and intensity to create vivid character portrayals on the world’s most prominent stages. This season, Russell Thomas sang his first staged performances of the title role of Otello (Verdi) at Canadian Opera Company, under the baton of Maestro Johannes Debus. He will repeat this role at Deutsche Oper Berlin under the baton of Paolo Arrivabeni. He will make his debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Germany, in the role of Manrico in Verdi’s Il Trovatore under the direction of Maestro Asher Fisch, and in the title role of Roberto Devereux at San Francisco Opera.

Recent highlights include Mr. Thomas’ portrayal of the title role debut of Stiffelio at Oper Frankfurt, Turiddu in Cavalleria rusticana at Deutsche Oper Berlin, Cavaradossi in Tosca at Los Angeles Opera and the title role in La clemenza di Tito at the Salzburger Festspiele, which he will reprise this season at Los Angeles opera under the baton of Maestro James Conlon. Other professional and artistic triumphs include his house debuts at the Royal Opera House in London as Gabriele Adorno in Simon Boccanegra (Verdi), and Lyric Opera of Chicago in the role of Pollione in Norma (Bellini).

Mr. Russell will make his concert debut at the BBC Proms in Beethoven’s Symphony No.9. He will be featured at Dallas Symphony in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde under Donald Runnicles.

Russell Thomas

Russell Thomas

Acclaimed for his “voice of intrinsic warmth and refined sense of style” (Opera News), Mr. Thomas has enjoyed a string of operatic triumphs in recent seasons, including performances as Don Carlo at Washington National Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin; Cavaradossi in Tosca at Los Angeles Opera and Los Angeles Philharmonic; and Pollione in Norma at Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia. He has debuted as Florestan in Fidelio at Cincinnati Opera, as Stiffelio at Oper Frankfurt, and as Turiddu in Cavalleria rusticana at Deutsche Oper Berlin. Mr. Thomas has sung Rodolfo in La bohème at the Metropolitan Opera, Loge in Das Rheingold with the New York Philharmonic, Adorno in Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and Ismaele in Nabucco at the Metropolitan Opera and Seattle Opera. His portrayal of the title character in the new Peter Sellars production of La clemenza di Tito at the Salzburg Festival and Dutch National Opera drew praise from the The New Yorker, which noted, “Thomas’s penetrating tenor, which has lately acquired richness and heft, anchored the evening.”

Mr. Thomas’s “ardent expression and spine-tingling high notes” (Cincinnati Enquirer) have been heard in the Verdi Requiem with the New York Philharmonic, Oregon Bach Festival, Theater Basel, and the national symphonies of Washington, D.C. and Barcelona. He has appeared as tenor soloist in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and the symphonies of Detroit, Atlanta, and Houston; and in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. Mr. Thomas was first to present the role of Lazarus in the world premiere of The Gospel According to the Other Mary, a passion oratorio by John Adams and Peter Sellars. He has performed the work at English National Opera, Ravinia Festival, and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, who commissioned it.

Mr. Thomas is an alumnus of the young artist programs at the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and has received prizes from the George London Foundation for Singers, Liederkranz Foundation, Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, and Richard Tucker Music Foundation. In 2010, he won a combination of the Grand Prize, Audience Prize, and Tenor Prize of the Francisco Viñas Competition in Barcelona, Spain.

Future seasons include Mr. Russell’s appearances on operatic stages in Berlin, Munich, London, Toronto, Chicago, Houston, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Read more about this remarkable singer on his webpage here:

Video Examples

Roberto Devereux – Russell Thomas as Roberto Devereux

With Anja Harteros – Don Carlo – Ma lassu ci verdremo

Did you know… ?

… that music is MATH? In fact in many conservatories and music schools across the country, music theory is considered to be part of the math curriculum. In the illustrative video below entitled, “MUSIC + MATH,” based upon a live concert presented by the Santa Fe Institute and the Santa Fe Symphony, this fascinating relationship is explored with wonderful visual images set to musical examples. As it is expressed in the video, “If math is pattern, and sound is vibration, music is sound shaped and patterned. Math can help us understand the rhythms, melodies, and harmonies that fascinate our brains and stir our hearts.

YouTube video: Music + Math: Symmetry

From Pythagora’s observations of the fundamental mathematical relationship between vibrating strings and harmony to the digitized musical world we enjoy today, the “Majesty of Music” and Mathematics with the Santa Fe Symphony and the Santa Fe Institute will explore this remarkable interweaving of the languages of music and mathematics.
About the contributor: Tamara Gallo

The Kristin Lewis Foundation “Troubadour”

In every issue of our newsletter, one Kristin Lewis Foundation Vocal Scholarship finalist or award recipient will be lovingly presented as a KLF “Nightingale” or “Troubadour,” in homage to artists who have shared their gift of beautiful singing throughout history.

A “Nightingale” is derived from “night”, and the Old English galan, “to sing.” Its Old English form nihtgale, means “night and day songstress.” A “Troubadour” was a composer and performer of Old Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages. This word is etymologically masculine.

The Kristin Lewis Foundation, an organization that shines a spotlight on talented musicians, is extremely proud of all the wonderful singers who participate in its scholarship program. These singers are among the next generation of great artists who intend to grace the world’s top opera stages.

Chosen from universities and colleges across the country, finalists are invited to Arkansas for a two-day audition process and given an invaluable opportunity to work with esteemed professionals while in competition for financial awards.

The Kristin Lewis Foundation Troubadour for the month of April is Blake Densen, baritone.

Introducing KLF Troubadour: BLAKE DENSON

photo of Blake Denson in his dressing room

Bartitone Blake Denson began his musical life as a percussionist in the Paducah Tilghman High School band. He reflected upon his childhood by saying, “My mom always sang around the house, so music has always been around me.” He successfully made the shift from band to choir, and subsequently was accepted into the voice department at the University of Kentucky.

Blake Denson at Kristin Lewis Foundation awards

Since participating as a finalist in the Kristin Lewis Foundation’s 2018 Vocal Scholarship Audtions, Blake has graduated from the University of Kentucky with his Bachelor of Music in Voice. While there, he sang “Joe” in the UTK Opera Theatre’s production of Showboat and was featured in an article in the LEXINGTON HERALD LEADER, which included an interview and video of his singing the iconic song “Old Man River.”

Video: What does ‘Old Man River’ mean to ‘Show Boat’?

Article: Star of UK’s ‘Show Boat’ wishes the racism portrayed in musical was all in the past. Read more here.

Blake Denson graduation

Blake is currently attending Rice University while pursuing a Masters degree in vocal performance under the guidance of Dr. Stephen King. He has shared his excitement with us in writing: “I am blessed to be able to work with the top voice students and faculty in the nation on a day to day basis so it definitely is a great driving force in my development.” Blake feels that he is ‘finding his true sound’ and developing greatly as an artist. He was cast in the role of “Mercurio” in Rice’s 2018 fall opera production of La Calisto. Another highlight is the role of “Elder McLean” in Rice’s opera production of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah.

Blake will travel abroad for the first time in summer 2019 to participate in a study abroad program in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy. When he returns to America, he will cover the roles of “Pierrot” in Gluck’s opera, L’île de Merlin and “Kaiser Overall” in Viktor Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis. He will perform the role of the “Wigmaker” in Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos with Wolf Trap Opera.

We look forward to celebrating the many future successes of the talented and hard-working Blake Denson, and wish him all the luck in the world, or, as they say in the opera world, TOI TOI TOI!

Where in the world is…


…Kristin Lewis?

An interview with Amerie Jones

Kristin has been jet setting across the United States accomplishing some monumental things! I am so proud of my BFF that’s it’s unreal! There have been some huge changes and wonderful surprises that have taken place in her life; therefore, imagine my shock and delightful surprise of finding out where she has been when we had our phone interview.

Amerie: Hey, watcha doing?

Kristin: I’m getting ready to attend a meeting for the Foundation.

Amerie: Oh, Kristin Lewis International….?

Kristin: No, The Kristin Lewis Foundation… Where are you?

Amerie: Wait – what?! You’re here in Little Rock?! I just pulled up to Tokyo House and I’m about to eat my soul out…

Kristin: (giggle) Eat your soul out, huh…?

Amerie: Yes, I have committed myself to eating decadent Asian goodies…They have a sushi bar that’s great….

Kristin: I like sushi, but I’m not in the mood for it. I think that I’ll pick up a salad from some place close by, a little later. So, are we going to do our interview while you eat…?

Amerie: Yes, we are. In fact, while I’m walking in the restaurant now… Tell me about your debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York this past January? I was so proud of you for your performances! That’s been one major dream for your career since its beginning.

Kristin Lewis in Aida at the Met.Kristin in Aida at the Met with Roberto Frontali, baritone, as Amonasro

Kristin: Yes! I received the good news of my singing the title role of Aida at the Metropolitan Opera two days before Christmas, which really made that the best Christmas gift ever. My singing on that stage was a long awaited milestone for me… a dream come true. So many of the greatest artists in the history of opera have walked the halls of that building and performed on that stage….and then the day came that I was requested to follow in their footsteps… I feel very grateful to God.

Kristin Lewis in Aida at the Met.… and with tenor Yonghoon Lee as Radamès.

Amerie: Amen. I was so busy with work; therefore, I was one of the unlucky ones who had to miss it. In addition l could not attend your Dallas Opera debut in March for similar reasons. Total bummer… So, tell us about your Manon Lescaut….?

Kristin with Matthew Grills, tenor, as the dance master in
Manon Lescaut at the Dallas Opera Company.

Kristin: No worries. Manon Lescaut was written by the very famous Italian composer named Giacomo Puccini. The libretto was based on a French play written in 1731 called L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by Prévost. The opera, Manon Lescaut, was composed in the 1830’s and contains some of the most romantic music ever written. Debuting the title role of this masterpiece at the Dallas Opera was for me a magnificent honor.

In addition there’s an interesting fact that some people outside of the opera world may not know. Very quickly after being established, The Dallas Opera Company was nicknamed “La Scala West” because of its ability to attract top singers on an international level. In fact Maria Callas sang one of its initial fund raising concerts in 1957! She, among other stars, brought top-notch prestige to the company during its first few seasons. The Dallas Opera has long since moved from its original building, the State Fair Music Hall, but the structure still exists and provides the space for different types of events. The Dallas Opera performances now take place in the Windspear Performing Arts Center, where its legacy of great opera continues. This company has a very rich musical history; and I’m blessed to have been a part of this legacy.

Amerie: Wow! Congratulations! That’s cool information….

Kristin: Some of the magnificent people that graced the Dallas Opera stage back then were Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Alfredo Krauss, and Giuseppe Di Stefano. A young and very talented Franco Zeffirelli built the first sets for the company….and soon followed were many other leading figures who added to the prestige of the Dallas Opera Stage. My experience with this company was glorious; and I have fallen in love with the city of Dallas.

Kristin Lewis in Manon Lescau at Dallas OperaKristin Lewis in Manon Lescaut at the Dallas Opera Company.

Amerie: What else did you experience while in Dallas…? What else made you fall in love with the city? When I attended seminary at Southern Methodist University, I couldn’t really enjoy the city because of my study load. My books were my boyfriends….

Kristin: (giggles)… while at SMU, your books were your boyfriends…?

Amerie: Yep.

Kristin: Ok…well…before leaving Dallas, I sang during a Sunday worship service at the Potter’s House…

Amerie: What?! You got to meet the Bishop!!!

Kristin: Yes, and immediately following the service, I had lunch with Bishop TD Jakes and his lovely wife, First Lady Serita Jakes. She is such an amazing woman. It was an incredible experience. And speaking of incredible experiences, another reason why I am in Little Rock is to discuss a multi-organizational partnership between the Kristin Lewis Foundation, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Opera in the Rock, the Wildwood Performing Arts Center and the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in a very exciting, future project. Being at home in Little Rock is always good for my soul, and now there is more exciting work for me to do here as well.

Amerie: So what are you gonna be up to after you leave Little Rock…?

Kristin: Well, immediately after returning to Europe I will begin preparing for some concerts in Talinn, Estonia and Vienna, Austria; and then June, I’ll be performing at The Avenches Opera Festival in Avenches, Switzerland. I’ll be singing the title role of Aida, but not in the form of a traditionally staged opera. It’ll be more like a concert…

Amerie: Oh that sounds neat!!!

Kristin takes her first bow at the Met

Kristin: Yes, it is actually. It will be an outdoor event that takes place in an ancient Roman arena. Those are always full, rich experiences. I can’t wait. So… what are we going to do when we meet up later?

Amerie: The same thing that we try to do every day….

Kristin: What’s that…?

Amerie: Try and take over the world….

Kristin: (giggle)…Great plan! …

Amerie: The power of the pink and green*! The 20 pearls that rocked the world, baby! I am a disciple of Ethel Hedgeman Lyle – the founder of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated!!

Kristin: That reminds me… I need to pay my sorority dues….

Amerie: So there you have it folks! Kristin Lewis, back home in the “Rock Town” and constantly working to give back to the community! Thanks, Kristin!

About the contributor: Amerie Jones

Amelie JonesAmerie Jones is a cradle Methodist and pastor of The Method, a Wesleyan society where youth and young adults holistically use their faith to be the best they can be body, mind, and soul. Born and raised in Arkansas, Jones is not only a local pastor in The United Methodist Church, but also a journalist, a producer for the awarding winning radio show,“The Method:Real Talk for Real People,” and a published author who has had work displayed in the world famous Bridwell Library. Jones is the face of vital ministry of a world-renowned school of theology and has a Bachelor’s of Science from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas and a Masters of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.


The Good book of Ruminations


Philosophical ruminations can be extremely important to consider when embarking upon a career in performance. Divine guidance, natural talent, dedication and humility are among the fundamental tools needed for success. Further, I invite aspiring artists to read the thoughts of seasoned artistic professionals, or Apostles, as they share their most meaningful words of wisdom in a new blog entitled,

The Good Book of Ruminations:

A Musician’s Guide To Survival.

The Good Book of Ruminations 4:1-4

A Word from Living Opera Legend and Apostle, Renee Fleming

Chapter 4

1Knoweth that when thou art called, ye are chosen. 2At the time of full harvest, be aware of the weeds that aim to snare and choketh thine good fruit.3Maketh thou a wedge for protection. 4Gird thine self from attack.


Renee Fleming, soprano

The more that you accomplish in your life, the more there will be people suddenly appearing around you who want to bring you down. Protect yourself from this negativity. Create filters that stand between yourself and the harshness of those who aim to negatively impact your vulnerability.
~ Renee Fleming, soprano.



Kristin Lewis International Verein für Ausbildung und Förderung junger Künstler
(Association for the Education and Development of Young Artists)

Kristin Lewis International is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to provide educational and developmental opportunities in classical music and dance to young artists. Our mission is to facilitate experiences for selected individuals that provide practical and professional knowledge in order to further refine their talents and aid in their artistic enhancement. We accomplish our goal by engaging leading professionals in the areas of opera, symphonic music and dance, in order to teach or mentor emerging artists. In addition, we offer financial scholarships and present classical music concerts and operatic productions.

“Kristin Lewis International Presents,” the yearly, benefit concert series featuring classical music concerts, operatic and other genre performances, will inaugurate on September 21, 2018, at the Minoritenkirche (Minoriten Church) in the center of the city in Vienna, Austria. This concert will begin at 7pm.

click image to see full size pdf

Artists in Spotlight

Michael Lessky, conductor


The Austrian conductor Michael Lessky comes from a highly musical Viennese family with roots in Upper Austria. His training as a conductor was with Karl Österreicher at the Vienna Music Academy, acquiring additional important impulses by frequently assisting Claudio Abbado at the Vienna State Opera as well as with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. In addition, he studied law, piano, organ, church music and the theory of jazz in Vienna.

In 1995, together with Ildiko Raimondi, Hans-Peter Blochwitz and Bernd Weikl as soloists and the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Philharmonic Orchestra, he made his successful debut in the Vienna Musikverein conducting Haydn’s Creation. This was the starting point for many successful concerts with masterpieces such as Verdi’s “Requiem“, Mozart’s “C-minor Mass“, Bruckner’s “Te Deum“, Brahms’ “Requiem” and numerous works of French and Italian repertoire.

Maestro Lessky conducted successful productions of the “Magic Flute“ and “Nabucco“ with the St. Margarethen Opera Festival in the seasons 1999 and 2000. These productions were integral in establishing the festival as the second largest open air operatic summer festival in Europe.

In 1997 Maestro Lessky founded the Austrian national youth orchestra “Vienna Young Philharmonic Orchestra“, which under his direction became the Austrian “elite orchestra of the next generation”, according to Austrian radio ORF and the daily paper “News”.

In 2001 Maestro Lessky was invited to the Histria Festival in Pula to conduct Verdi’s Requiem; and in 2002 he conducted Mahler‘s 2nd Symphonie at Vienna’s St. Stephan cathedral. In 2003 and 2004 he and his orchestra were named official “Cultural Ambassadors“ of Austria in China. By the Mozart-Year 2006, he was elected to conduct a new “Cosi fan tutte“ production in Vienna; and José Carreras choose him as musical director for his project entitled, “Belle Epoque,” with CD-production and Gala-concert at Wiener Konzerthaus. A highlight in the 2007-08 season was the Wiener Musikverein “10 Year Jubilee Concert“ of Junge Philharmonie Wien, with guest opera stars Agnes Baltsa and Ildiko Raimondi. In 2009, Maestro was engaged for the Jubilee Concert of Vienna’s Schubert Society with “The Great“ symphony at Wiener Konzerthaus.

© Sophie Menegalgo

2011 invitation to the “Austria Festival“ in Germany, Saarbrücken with a program of Webern, Liszt, Willi and F. Gulda. At Wiener Konzerthaus, he conducted the Requiem of Mozart.

In 2013, he was engaged for two Wagner-Galas with soloists of the Bayreuth Festival in Germany with excerpts of all operas of Wagner. In 2014 were acclaimed performances of Schönberg‘s „Pelleas and Melisande“-symphony, Beethoven‘s Violin-concert and a new collaboration with Accademia of Teatro alla Scala in Milano of Rossini’s Stabat Mater.

In 2015 Maestro Lessky was a guest at Ravello-Festival in Italy and for the first time in South America at Grand Teatro Nacional in Lima with Mahler‘s 4th symphony and Berg’s Violin-concert. He has released CD recordings of Mahler Symphonies Nos. 2, 4, 5 and orchestral songs of Strauss, Schubert, Mahler, Zemlinsky, Webern with Vienna state opera’s sopano Ildiko Raimondi and of particular value the live recording made, too, with Vienna State Opera’s soloists at Vienna’s Redoutensaal for Sony BMG.

In 2017 he was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art.
During the 2018-19 season, Maestro Lessky will be featured as Guest Conductor of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra Sinfónica del Sodre Montevideo.


Heilwig Pfanzelter, Moderator

Heilwig PfanzeiterA long-standing television and radio presence makes Heilwig Pfanzelter one of the most famous voices in Austria. Born in Bludenz, Vorarlberg, she studied acting at the Landestheater Innsbruck, with vocational training from Ingrid Olofson and Marcelo Onofri. Since 1986 she has lived in Vienna, and has received acclaim from theater engagements and solo appearances in the Metropol Wien, Theater Drachengasse Wien, Goldener Musikvereinssaal Wien, French Embassy Vienna, Brucknerhaus Linz, Schloss Landeck, Kongresshaus Millstatt and many more. She is a moderator for company events, a spokeswoman of industry, corporate video and advertising and is a telephone band voice. She is a teacher of voice and rhetoric, and is a speech therapist.


Donka Angatscheva, piano

Hailed as “A whirlwind at the piano, a sensitive musician with excellent technical skills and phenomenal pianistic expression,” the Austrian concert pianist of Bulgarian descent, Donka Angatscheva, made her debut as a soloist with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of ten. During her youth, she studied with Milena Mollova (a student of Emil Gilels), and furthered her studies with the famous pianist and teacher Heinz Medjimorec, a member of the Haydn Trio, at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. She performs frequently with her ensemble, Trio d’Ante, including Vienna’s Musikverein in 2006 and 2010. She completed her chamber music studies at the Queen Elizabeth Music Conservatory in Brussels.

With an impressive discography of eight CDs, Ms. Angatscheva has performed at famous music venues and renowned festivals including Fundación Carlos de Amberes in Madrid, Sala Maria Cristina, Málaga, Apolonia Festival, Bulgaria, Kunstzentrum Art St. Urban, Switzerland, Tonhalle, Zürich. Her Trio was invited to the Festival de Radio France et Montpellier, Festival de musique de Menton, France, and to the Chopin Festival at the Cultural Centre Flagey in Brussels. She has also performed in the Mozart Hall of Vienna’s Konzerthaus, and in the Great Hall of the Palais de Beaux Arts in Brussels.

Ms. Angatscheva has been a piano lecturer at the Conservatory of Music in Vienna since 2013 and since 2018 at the well known Amadeus International School Vienna. In summer 2019 she will be artistic director at the first International Beethoven Youth Piano Chamber Music Competition in Switzerland.

On September 15th, 2018 Ms. Angatscheva will perform together with Yuri Revich at the Musikverein Brahmssaal.


Teodora Miteva, cello

Teodora Miteva was born in Ruse, Bulgaria and started playing the violin at the age of four, under the guidance of her mother. However, one year later, she discovered her love for the cello. She made her solo debut with orchestra at the age of 18 in her hometown, performing Lalo’s Cello Concerto. A few years later she was granted her Master’s degree with honors at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, as a pupil of Prof. Valentin Erben (Alban Berg Quartet). She has performed as a soloist with several international orchestras, including Orquestra Philharmonica de Salta (Argentina), Orchestra Estivo di Cervo (Italy) and Orquesta Philharmonica de Quito (Equador). During the “Haydn-Years,” she played the Haydn cello concerto in C Major in the well-known concert Brahms Hall and Golden Hall in Vienna’s Musikverein under the batons of Christian Schultz and András Deák.

Ms. Miteva has performed as a soloist at the “Wieder Festwochen”, in the City Hall Hong Kong, at the Bourglinster Festival in Luxembourg, at the Aaron Copland Festival and many other international musical festivals. She is an award winner of the Cello Competiton in Bulgaria and has been awarded famous scholarships, such as the Herbert von Karajan Centrum and the Alban Berg Foundation. Together with Peter Schmidl, the Solo Clarinet player of the Vienna Philharmonic, Ms. Miteva has recorded Clarinet trios by Beethoven and Brahms for the Naxos Label.

Ms. Miteva has been enjoying a very successful performing career with her ensemble, Trio D’Ante, which included being awarded first prize in 2007 at the International Chamber Music Competition in Thessaloniki, Greece. Thanks to their outstanding performances in many prestigious festivals, the ensemble also won a scholarship for the renowned Queen Elizabeth College of Music Academy in Brussels, studying with the Artemis Quartett. In 2010, the ensemble’s debut album was published by Gramola with works by Astor Piazzolla and Enrique Fernandez Arbós. The CD presentation had a great success at the Vienna Musikverein, in Switzerland and in Spain – with an excellent resonance in the Austrian media and the international press. In 2010, Trio D’Ante played in the Mozart Hall of the Vienna Konzerthaus, which was followed by an Austrian tour organized by Jeunesse in the 2011/2012 season. Ms. Miteva plays a cello made by Honoré Derazay, Paris 1860.

Opera Meets Fashion…

Hot off the Runway…

When modern meets timeless and chic meets intellectual, when classic embraces avantgarde… it’s Maurizio Giambra’s signature! Born on the French border in Ventimiglia, he grew up in Sicily and studied at the “Accademia di Moda e Costume” in Rome. In 1988, Maurizio has lived in Vienna, his adopted city, where he has made a name as a costume designer for film and theater. In 2010, he established his own label,

Maurio Giambra – Vienna: Where silks or high-tech fabrics, pure colors and clear cuts become creations of a new classic elegance.


Maurizio Giambra of course gets inspired by the glamour of movie icons, but also ventures new interpretations. In 2010 he established his own label “Maurizio Giambra – Vienna” which offers “Haute-Couture for film and music stars on the Red Carpet, wedding and cocktail fashion, prêt-à-porter for business and day” and has its home on Lange Gasse 38, A1080.


Maurizio Giambra with Hollywood in Vienna creator, Sandra Tomek,
and R&B and soul singer, Dorretta Carter.


Kristin Lewis International has the distinct honor of being granted luxurious gowns from the atelier of Italian fashion designer, Maurizio Giambra. These gowns will be featured during the Gala Benefit concert on September 21, 2018, at the Minoritenkirche, Minoritenplatz 2, 1010 Vienna.

When Opera met Giuseppe Verdi in Vienna…

When Opera met Giuseppe Verdi at the Theater am Kärntnertor (English: Carinthian Gate Theatre) in Vienna…

In March 1843, Giuseppe Verdi visited Vienna to oversee history unfolding, as the debut of his opera, “Nabucco,” at the Theater am Kärntnertor would be presented.

This theatre, whose official title was Kaiserliches und Königliches Hoftheater zu Wien (the “Imperial and Royal Court Theater of Vienna), was very prestigious during the eigthteenth and nineteenth centuries. Mainly famous composers, including Mozart, Haydn, Salieri, Beethoven and Schubert, Chopin and Schubert all presented their masterpieces there.

Kärntnertortheater, Vienna

Kärntnertortheater. Kol. Stich von T. Mollo, 1825
© Austrian Archives, Wien


This production marked the first performances of any Verdi opera cast abroad. Gaetano Donizetti, who was musical director of the Kärntnertortheater during that time, conducted those performances. He later penned in a letter in January 1844, “I am very, very happy to give way to people of talent like Verdi… Nothing will prevent the good Verdi from soon reaching one of the most honorable positions in the cohort of composers.”*

Kärntnertortheater (English: Carinthian Gate Theatre) was very prestigious for being the Imperial and Royal Court Theater of Vienna during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Built in 1709, it stood on the grounds of the present day Hotel Sacher.

*Philipp-Matzinger, Mary Jane (2004), “Verdi’s life: a thematic biography”, in Balthazar, Scott E., The Cambridge Companion to Verdi, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.3-14

The Kristin Lewis Foundation “Nightingale”

Each month, talented Kristin Lewis Foundation scholarship award winners or finalists will be presented in La Fermata. They will be lovingly referred to as “Nightingales” and “Troubadours,” in homage to artists who have shared their gift of beautiful singing throughout history.

A “Nightingale” is derived from “night”, and the Old English galan, “to sing.” Its Old English form nihtgale, means “night and day songstress.” A “Troubadour” was a composer and performer of Old Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages. This word is etymologically masculine.

The Kristin Lewis Foundation, an organization that shines a spotlight on talented, young musicians, is extremely proud of all the wonderful singers who participate in its scholarship program. The fifteen finalists chosen from universities and colleges in America each year are invited to Little Rock, Arkansas for a two-day audition process, in competition for financial awards. Each participant is given an invaluable opportunity to work with esteemed professionals from leading, international opera houses during the scholarship auditions. These singers are among the next generation of great artists who intend to grace the world’s top opera stages.

The Kristin Lewis Foundation “Nightingale” for the month of September is

Melissa Joseph, soprano.

Since winning the Kristin Lewis Foundation’s Young Artist Award in 2016, Ms. Joseph has gone on to win other competitions such as 3rd place in Georgia District NATS, and the 2016 Orchestra Noir Virtuoso Collegiate Concerto Competition where she was awarded 3rd place and an opportunity to perform with Orchestra Noir under the direction of Maestro Jason Ikeem Rogers. Her most recent performances were as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Micaela in Carmen with the GSU Opera Theater under the direction of Mr. Carroll Freeman.

Ms. Joseph recently wrote to us:

“When I received the 2016 Kristin Lewis Young Artist Award, I was completely shocked and humbled. It is often rare to find artists who are so willing to give back to their community and finance the dreams of young singers. Furthermore, Ms. Kristin Lewis took the time to speak to every one of the contestants and make them feel so special and recognized. Not only was this competition rewarding financially, but also educationally. The one-on-one time with the judges after the preliminary round was so beneficial and insightful…”.

Melissa attended Georgia State University where her talent and hard work earned her a full scholarship with a Graduate Assistantship. In May 2017 she graduated from GSU with a Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance.

In February, Melissa was selected as one of 10 finalists in the 2018 Grand Concours Vocal Competition in Austin, Texas. In March of the same year, she was featured in a concert featuring women composers. Under the direction of Harv Wileman, founder of Voices of Reason ensemble, she sang, “I am Moses the Liberator” from Nkeiru Okoye’s opera Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom. She has been a featured soloist in art shows and cabarets around the local Atlanta area. More recently, she was cast as Musetta in Peach State Opera’s production of Puccini’s La Boheme. During this fall season she will move to Boston, Massachusetts to further her private studies with Ms. Sharon Daniels, with the intention of obtaining an Artist Diploma in the near future.

We wish Melissa all the luck in the world, or, as they say in the opera world, TOI TOI TOI!