Our mission is to elevate the human spirit and enhance communities through the power of the voice and music.
The International Festival of the Voice Foundation promotes the human voice as an instrument of peace, healing and artistic expression, through presenting a diverse range of world class vocal performances in the Hudson Valley.Through performances across a range of musical genres, we seek to expand the audience for the vocal arts and to discover and develop new vocal talent from around the corner and around the world. We also seek to be an economic engine for our region, adding to the recreational activities, the fine cuisine, and the alluring shops the possibility to perform and experience vocal music in the pure mountain air and exceptional natural beauty of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley.
Through the Years
Four days, 22 events, 4000 attendees
Mozart’s Don Giovanni: conductor Steven White, with Barry Banks, Louis Otey and Morris Robinson. Voices of Distinction with Lauren Flanigan Rozz Morehead, Simon Shaheen
Four days, 22 events, 5000 attendees
Puccini’s Madame Butterfly with Yunah Lee and Richard Troxell Voices of Distinction: Broadway, featuring local talent Lucia Legnini 12 Months , concerto for piano and choir by Peter Schickele, narrated by Schickele with pianist Justin Kolb and singer Barry Banks Lieder concert by Banks
Four days, 23 events, 5000 attendees
New stage able to accommodate 150 performers at once Voices of Distinction: Wagner Bicentennial with Jeanne Michele Charbonet, Victoria Livengood, Alfred Walker, Eduardo Villa Cantorial concert by Cantor Jack Mendelson Verdi’s Rigoletto conducted by Steven White with Barry Banks, Nancy Allen Lundy, Bradley Smoak, and Louis Otey Verdi’s Requiem, Phoenicia Festival Orchestra conducted by David Wroe, with Rosa D’Imperio, Maria Todaro, Stephan Kirchgraber, Eduardo Villa, more than 120 choristers Terrence McNally’s Master Class with Irene Glezos Public vocal workshop, lectures, youth education program
Five days, 27 events, 5500 attendees
Voices of Distinction: Baroque with Brian Asawa, Christine Gunmere, and Sinfornia New York Italian tenor Jose Todaro with the Festival chorus singing Mediterranean favorites Premiere: Frederic Chaslin’s Clarimonde featuring Alyson Cambridge Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Lucas Meachem, Kevin Glavin, Maria Todaro, Festival orchestra conducted by David Wroe Zarzuela with Camille Zamora and Alberto Ramirez Misa Criolla with the festival chorus, Alturas Ensemble conducted by Jorge Parodi Flamenco extravaganza, Art of the Cantor featuring Jacob Mendelson and family Tales of the Rainbow Forest, acting master class conducted by Anthony Laciura
Five days, 32 events, 5500 attendees
Voices of Distinction: Red, White and Blue! with pianist Justin Kolb and the Festival Orchestra performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue plus jazz artists Jack DeJohnette and Sheila Jordan Stephen Temperley’s play, Souvenir, about Florence Foster-Jenkins with Georgia Osborne and Robert Stillman Menotti’s The Medium with Victoria Livengood and pianist/conductor David Mayfield Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music with Ron Raines, Susan Powell, Rosalind Elias, directed by Marc Astafan and conducted by Gerald Steichen American Classics: Live and in Person with Lauren Flanigan accompanied by composer Ricky Ian Gordon Down to the Roots, a celebration of Native American music World premiere of Do Not Go Gentle: The Last Days of Dylan and Caitlin by Robert Manno with Philip Cutlip, Emily Pulley and John Easterlin Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men
Four days, 21 events, 5500 attendees
Rock the Beatles with Paul Green’s Rock Academy Kiss Me Kate with Susan Powell, Richard White, Anthony Laciura , choreographed by Becky Timms, directed by Lee Roy Reems, conducted by Gerald Steichen Verdi’s Otello with conductor David Wroe, stage director Beth Greenberg, Chorus Master David Mayfield, Limmie Pulliam, Eleni Calenos, Daniel Sutin, Aaron Blake, Bradley Smoak, Lindsay Ammann, FofV Chorus and Orchestra Celtic Celebration with Joy Dunlop, Noeleen Ni Cholla, Doimnic Mac Golla Bhride, and Ann Crann Og Shakespeare Heroines, music by Thomas Pasatieri, with Lauren Flanigan All of Shakespeare in 90 Minutes by Brandon Aja Carey Harrison and Justin Kolb
Three days, 21 events, 6,000 attendees
A French Affair: Opening Gala with Lucas Meachem, Irina Meachem, Lauren Flanigan, voice impersonator Olivier Laurent, Mireille Asselin, David Mayfield. Les Trois Mousquetaires, World Premiere. Music by Mitchell Bach, Libretto by Maria Todaro with Kyle Albertson, John Viscardi, Joseph Brent, Jason Slayden, Louis Otey, Oswaldo Irahetra, Sarah Heltzel, Joan-Marie Peitscher, Megan Weston, Robert Balonek. Music direction: Michael Fennelly. La Boheme with conductor David Wroe, stage director Maria Todaro, Chorus Master David Mayfield, John Osborn, Richard Bernstein, Lynette Tapia, Lucas Meachem, Kevin Glavin, Daniel Scofield, Mireille Asselin, FofV Chorus and Orchestra The Spiritual Side of Duke: A Gospel/ Jazz concert starring John Lumpkin, The Cambridge Singers
Sirens of the Voice
Friday, Aug. 3 The Festival of the Voice and The Catskill Jazz Factory team up to present Damien Sneed and the Levites in a gospel extravaganza that hearkens back to the great sirens of gospel–Mahalia Jackson, Shirley Caesar, Kim Burrell, Aretha Franklin, Albertina Walker–and many more.
Saturday, Aug. 4 Latte Lecture on ‘Carmen’ with conductor David Wroe and stage director, Maria Todaro A capella quartet Lady Parts- ‘Voice of the Siren’ Sacred Heart Shapenotes workshop Premier of Eric Grants play ‘Bleeker Street’ about Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub shooting directed by Philip Mansfield Masterclass with world renowned tenor Richard Leech featuring arias from the Rossini’s last opera ‘Guillaume Tell’.
Rossini’s first staged opera’ La Cambiale di Matrimonio’ with festival young artists conducted by David Mayfield and directed by Beth Greenberg, costumes by Barbara Erin Delo and set design by George Holz.
Carmen – conducted by David Wroe, directed by Maria Todaro featuring Ginger Costa-Jackson, Adam Diegel, Kyle Albertson and Miriam Costa-Jackson with armored vehicles provided by Chris Mee and Charterarmor.
Sunday Aug. 5 Latte Lecture on Rossini Bleeker Street Masterclass with Louis Otey Beauties of Broadway conducted by David Wroe with Douglas Martin at the piano featuring B’way darling Marissa McGowan and Jeffrey Byrnes and festival young artists.
10th Anniversary Season
Friday, Aug. 2 10 Year Gala- A Decade of Opera Favorites – with David Wroe conducting and Douglas Martin, piano-MC’d by Anthony Laciura and featuring Kyle Albertson, Nancy Allen Lundy, Morris Robinson, Louis Otey, Barry Banks, Toby Newman, Michelle Jennings, Jose’ Todaro and Robert McLaughlin.
Saturday, Aug. 3 Latte Lecture with David Wroe and Maria Todaro on ‘Elixir of Love’ A capella female quartet- Lady Parts – Music of the Abolitionist Movement Souvenir – Stephen Temperley play about Florence Foster Jenkins starring Liz McCartney and Bob Stillman (attended by Stephen Temperley!!!) Music of the African Diaspora- Justin Kolb and Carey Harrison collaborate mixing African music and Mr. Harrison’s experiences in south Africa Treemonisha- a comparative study of Scott Joplin’s only surviving opera by Maestro Damien Sneed- featuring Sneed’s new arrangements of Joplin’s music with Brandie Sutton, Morris Robinson, Norman Shankle and Geraldine McMillian L’Elisir D’amore – conducted by David Wroe, directed by Maria Todaro; chorus master David Mayfield, costumes by Barbara Erin Delo- set in Ghana, Africa starring Orson Van Gay II, Jasmine Habersham, Leroy Davis and Rodney Nelman including African drums and dancers.
Sunday, Aug. 4 Jesus Christ Superstar- Paul Green and the Philadelphia Rock Academy Celebrating the Talent Rich Catskills (closing gala)- featuring Robert Burke Warren, Rock and Roll by Woodstock Rock Academy. Bennett Jazz Ensemble conducted by Harvey Boyer and Loren Daniels and Exchange Trio Dance Party- DJ rocks it for you- DJ Skoob E spins rocks greatest hits for the after-crowd’s dancing pleasure.
The Phoenicia Int. Festival of the Voice led the way on multiple levels for the performing arts during the Covid-19 pandemic. After 10 years of offering a three-day summertime potpourri of opera, master classes, plays, lectures, and vocal performances of every kind in the small hamlet of Phoenicia, executive director, Maria Todaro and her team were forced by the pandemic to find a new way to fulfill their mission of showing how the power of the human voice can inspire, empower, heal, and uplift all who hear it. For safety reasons, the festival was moved to a former IBM parking lot in Kingston, NY where it presented Puccini’s masterpiece ‘Tosca’ : A live, drive-in opera performance with internationally renowned singers, full orchestra, ‘volumetric video,’ and complete Covid safety—the first such performance anywhere in the United States. How does one turn a war-horse of an opera that takes place in 1800 into contemporary entertainment whose performers remain “distanced” yet believable? Answer: With space-age staging endowing the villain with super-powers; that way, love and lust, terror and triumph can all be expressed fully from a distance—especially when enhanced by a segment of virtual reality, not to mention by the Festival’s signature: great voices wowing the audience with their beauty and expressiveness.
Maria Todaro conceived ‘Tosca’ with new and novel technical innovations, all beautifully coordinated by the Festival’s production manager, Dan Jobbins: a whole new sound system designed to cut out any delays in the sound reaching all parts of the expansive parking lot, plus the car radio sync by Mike Seddon’s team at Live Sound Inc., video for the volumetric virtual bit by Phosphor , Mixed Space Studios and Evercoast—the altered-reality portion broadcast on the Jumbotrons by Springboard Team and James Sapione, camera director.
The original cast was to be Joyce Elkhoury as ‘Tosca’, Dimitri Pittas as ‘Cavaradossi’ and Kyle Albertson as ‘Scarpia’. Due to travel and covid restrictions, ‘Tosca’ was sung by veteran Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs and ‘Cavaradossi’ by rising young star, Jonathan Tetelman. Spoletta was Edward Washington, Paul Grosvenor did double duty as ‘Angelotti’ and ‘Sciarrone’ and Timothy Lafontaine was the ‘Sacristan’. The Festival orchestra was conducted by French star, Audrey Saint-Gil.
Besides presenting the 1st US Drive-in Live performance in the nation, Todaro and the Festival of the Voice launched a whole new path for opera borrowing the vocabulary of video games. In order to create jobs for artists, the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice migrated to Naples, Fl. in the winter to present concerts in the form of ‘salon recitals’ with major artists such as Morris Robinson, Adam Diegel, Elizabeth Caballero, Jasmine Habersham, Kyle Albertson and Richard Troxell.
Another ‘covid’ year, another drive-in– this was the plan until the former NY governor lifted the ‘capacity’ restrictions for public gatherings in May.
The Phoenicia Festival of the Voice was delighted to announce its return to our beautiful, mountain-rimmed park in Phoenicia. But with such short notice, the Festival could only mount one of its own productions! And thus the 2021 edition of the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice brought new meaning to the term ‘collaboration’.
A number of New York City companies were invited to bring a production to play on our stage in Phoenicia and the ‘winners’ were narrowed down to 2- the innovative Teatro Grattacielo and the historic New York City Opera.
Teatro Grattcielo’s new general director, Stefanos Koroneos, is a visionary and a risk-taker. Grattacielo’s mission is to perform lesser known works of major composers or neglected classics and they brought a wonderful, light-hearted, airy version of Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz with special projections. The opera was set in pre-Franco-Prussian war Alsace, where Protestant and Jewish communities coexist in gentle harmony, and where bachelor landowner Fritz, with a bit of help from David, the local rabbi, gradually falls in love with Suzel, the daughter of one of his tenants. Cast with wonderful young artists from its Camerata Bardi Vocal Academy it was an uplifting and joyful evening.
Famed New York City Opera
brought a powerhouse cast to a wonderfully and perfectly truncated version of Verdi’s tragic Rigoletto. Narration, written and performed by actor and playwright Bill Van Horn in a newly created, 90-minute version of Verdi’s classic, moved the vital action swiftly between the beautiful Verdian set pieces (arias, duets and quartets!). Created and directed by NYCO’s general director, Michael Capasso, this production featured a quartet of Metropolitan Opera stars headed my baritone Michael Chioldi, soprano Brandi Sutton (our Treemonisha from 2019), tenor Won Whi Choi and bass Kevin Short. The orchestra was conducted by Constantine Orbelian.
These two incredible companies bookended the Festival’s new production of Leoncavallo’s shocking tale of jealousy and revenge, I Pagliacci
Metropolitan Opera tenor Errin Brooks, international soprano Marcelina Beucher and veteran Troy Cook headlined this stunning cast of operatic stars, brought this story to life like never before. The cast was rounded out by baritone Matthew Gamble as ‘Silvio’ and tenor Zewan Zang as ‘Beppe’. The opera was conducted by Festival of the Voice music director David Wroe and the Festival’s General Director, Maria Todaro, brought her signature colorful creativity to this production as stage director, transporting this timeless story from 1892 Italy to the Western Frontier.
Borrowing from the drive-in experience from 2020, the action of the 3 operas was broadcast on amazing jumbotrons in full color so that even those sitting far back in the field could see the beautiful costumes, sets and action from afar.