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Savannah VOICE Festival releases fourth season lineup

  • Sherrill Milnes, left, and his wife, Maria Zouves, are co-founders of the Savannah VOICE Festival. (Photo courtesy SVF via Visit Savannah)

Savannah VOICE Festival releases fourth season lineup

19 May 2016

The Savannah VOICE Festival revealed its lineup of concerts, classes, operas and other events during a prelude concert May 17.

The fourth annual festival, which will be staged Aug. 7-21 in and around Savannah, offers music from opera, musical theater and popular song.

The yearly vocal celebration gets under way at 4 p.m. Aug. 7 with the first opera, Charles Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette” at Asbury Memorial Theatre, 1008 Henry St. The performance will be directed by the internationally acclaimed Fabrizio Melano and Argentine conductor Jorge Parodi. Meechot Marrero and Santiago Ballerini return in the title roles, and the opera will be sung in French with supertitles projected above the stage.

On Aug. 8 in The Westin ballroom, Melano will lead a master class from 1-3 p.m., sharing his expertise and dramatic insights. An established figure on the international opera scene, he has worked with renowned houses around the world for more than 40 years.

Also on Aug. 8, “Death, by Aria, Parts I and II” will provide an up-close and personal introduction to festival artists. Attendees will enjoy opera arias, musical theater and song in The Westin’s ballroom.

At 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9, SVF fans who missed the first performance of “Roméo et Juliette” will have a second opportunity to catch the elegant opera. The classic love story will again unfold within the sanctuary of Asbury Memorial Theatre.

From 1-3 p.m. Aug. 10 in The Westin ballroom, legendary baritone Sherrill Milnes – who co-founded the Savannah VOICE Festival along with his wife, Maria Zouves – will conduct the first of five free master classes, during which he will share the process of exceptional singing with audiences while working with the 2016 artists. The other master classes, which are all free and open to the public, are from 1-3 p.m. Aug. 12, 13, 15 and 19 in The Westin ballroom, except for the Aug. 19 class, which will be in Armstrong State University’s Fine Arts Auditorium.

“Roméo” tenor Ballerini, accompanied by pianist Justina Lee, will wow audiences with a recital titled “From Argentina, with Love” from 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 11 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1 Macon St.

On Aug. 12, the Salon Series: “Opera in the Baroque” will include a concert and opportunities for attendees to meet the artists during an elegant champagne reception. The event, which runs from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Green Meldrim House, will feature early music by composers such as Handel and Purcell – a show designed to take the audience back to where it all began. This performance is exclusive to VOICE Society members. Membership is $175 for individuals, $275 for couples and $350 for families. VOICE Society membership helps to support SVF educational and outreach programs in the community.

“The American Music Concert: Give My Regards to Broadway” is slated for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 13 at Savannah’s First Presbyterian Church on Washington Avenue. This festival favorite offers artists a platform for presenting a review of some of American musical theater’s most beloved moments.

Back for a fourth season, Savannah’s own Timothy Hall and this season’s artists present “VOICES in Sacred Song” at 4 p.m. Aug. 14 at Savannah’s First Presbyterian Church. The collaboration will feature music from oratorio, liturgical music and inspirational song.

The SVF’s Camp VOICE Showcase gives audiences a sneak peek at tomorrow’s stars. A concert comprised of Savannah's most talented youth, ages 15-19, allows them to shine after spending a week singing and learning from the Milnes VOICE Studio experts and instructors. The event is at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 15 in The Westin’s ballroom.

The festival’s 2016 centerpiece event, a specially commissioned Savannah-centric opera that combines thrilling local lore with hauntingly beautiful melodies, will be staged twice Aug. 16. Michael Ching’s “Alice Ryley – A Savannah VOICE Story” first debuted in October 2015 to sold-out hometown audiences. Fans’ overwhelmingly positive reception of the work, which was inspired by the book “Historic Haunts of Savannah” by Savannah-based authors Michael Harris and Linda Sickler, led SVF organizers to designate it as this season’s crown jewel.

The first 55-minute performance is set for 5:30 p.m. in The Westin ballroom. The evening’s second event begins at The Westin at 6:30 p.m. with a wine reception. Reservations for the Festival Opera Gala Dinner may only be made in advance and seating is limited.    

“Mission: Audition,” an offshoot of VOICExperience’s audition project, returns to Savannah’s Christ Church at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17 after proving popular last year. SVF singers perform in a mock audition for professional opera company directors, who will share the thoughts that run through their minds during auditions.

On Aug. 18, the “VOICES Around the World” concert will take audience members on a journey around the world from European art songs to South American tango, as festival artists share their favorite international songs. The performance runs from 6:30-8 p.m. at Savannah’s Christ Church on Johnson Square.

The Salon Series continues at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Green Meldrim House with “Goodnight, My Love – Lullabies and Cradle Songs.” It will include a concert and an opportunity for attendees to meet the artists during a champagne reception.

VOICE Studio artists will dazzle classical music lovers Aug. 20 with their first opera production, Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” or “Die Zauberflöte.” Attendees are invited to a studio production of this timeless piece, which will be sung in German with English dialogue and supertitles. The opera will be directed by Joachim Schamberger. Curtain rises at 5:30 p.m. in The Westin’s ballroom.

The final day of the 2016 Savannah VOICE Festival will close with two events. At 1 p.m. Aug. 21, guests are invited to enjoy an afternoon of music as the Milnes VOICE Studio artists present an “Opera Scenes and Songs Showcase” in The Westin ballroom.

Later that evening, the season will conclude with festival finale “A Summer of Romance.” The show, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Charles H. Morris Center on Broad Street, will feature the voices of the festival as they come together to share some of music’s most romantic and dramatic moments.

Some festival events will be free, with other individual events priced from $25-$145. Tickets are now on sale to the general public and special packages for 2016 are available. 

To order tickets, go to, email or call 855-766-7372.