PREEMINENT DRAMATIC SOPRANO DEBORAH VOIGT TO JOIN FACULTY AT SAN FRANCISCO CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC
Deborah Voigt and SFCM student, Erin O’ Meally (photo: Timothy Mar)
Internationally revered operatic soprano Deborah Voigt has been appointed to the full-time voice faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). Beginning in the fall of 2016, Voigt, known the world over for her “majestic voice”(WSJ), will bring to SFCM the benefit of singing experience that spans an extraordinary spectrum, from her renowned performances in the operas of Wagner, Strauss, and more, to her celebrated recital appearances and acclaimed presentations of Broadway standards and popular songs. Through private lessons and master classes with Voigt, select SFCM voice students will receive the unique opportunity to gain insight and training from one of the world’s most versatile singers and music’s most endearing personalities.
SFCM President David H. Stull says:
“I am tremendously excited for Deborah Voigt to join our faculty. Ms. Voigt brings a unique combination of magnificent artistry, business savvy, resilience, and grounded realism that will provide an unparalleled resource for our voice students. She is one of the rare superstars who is a highly gifted teacher and genuinely enjoys working with young artists. We are thrilled to have her with us. I am deeply grateful to Diane Wilsey and the Voigt Consortium for their tremendous support in making this happen.”
It was SFCM’s commitment to recruiting world-class musicians and teachers to its faculty that drew the Conservatory’s leadership to Voigt, who always felt that the arc of her career would one day see her holding a teaching position. She was compelled to take the leap, in part, by the Conservatory’s inspiring mission of providing an innovative and transformative education for its students. Though she has taught extensively throughout the country in master class settings, the SFCM appointment marks Voigt’s first full-time faculty position.
“While performing on stage will continue to be central to my life, I’m really thrilled to be heading out West to begin this next phase of my career,” says Voigt. “I’m intrigued by the growth potential I see happening at the Conservatory, and by David Stull’s ideas about shaping young singers into well-rounded artists. That’s extremely important for young people who are pursuing careers in the arts at a time when it’s more competitive than it was even when I was starting out.”
César Ulloa, SFCM voice department chair, says that Voigt has been and still is a transcendent figure in the opera world, and that she will bring an incomparable wealth of experience to her students. He adds:
“I am excited to have dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt join our voice faculty. She will make an essential contribution to the voice department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, as well as to the entire arts community in the Bay Area. She brings with her an immense knowledge of repertoire and understanding of the voice, having performed important roles in major opera houses and concert halls around the world with the greatest conductors of this generation, as well as mentoring many young singers.”
Ulloa explains that Voigt’s extraordinary technique has allowed her to take on the major Wagnerian roles, and will attract the in-demand, larger voices to SFCM.
“Ms. Voigt understands and knows what it takes to develop technically and cultivate that very special and rare dramatic voice type. Dramatic voices are important for the future of opera, and Ms. Voigt has that ability to identify the next generation of dramatic sopranos.”
Voigt and San Francisco
Voigt was raised in California, and her long association with San Francisco Opera dates back to 1985, when she received professional training as a member of the prestigious Merola Opera Program, which led to her participation in the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship Program for the next two years. Before she rose to international fame, Bay Area audiences first heard the soprano as an emerging artist in the company’s productions of Don Carlos, Jenufa, Macbeth, Nabucco, and Die Zauberflöte. She later returned to undertake leading roles in Un ballo in maschera, Tannhäuser, Die Walküre, Ariadne auf Naxos, and, most recently, the title role of La fanciulla del West in 2010. In 2013 Voigt hosted the San Francisco benefit concert for Sing With Haiti, to aid the rebuilding of Haiti’s Holy Trinity Music School, destroyed in the earthquake of 2010. In December 2015, she appeared with the 350 voices of the San Francisco Girls Chorus in “An American Christmas” at Davies Symphony Hall. She returns to the area this week for the West Coast premiere of Voigt Lessons, with two performances on May 6 and 8 presented by SF Opera Lab.
Voigt will maintain her performing career in tandem with her new teaching position, and her commitment to her future SFCM students is already apparent.
“I’ll still be singing, and right now I’m trying to figure out how to balance it all. A couple of things just had to go because they were going to keep me away from the school too long, and that wouldn’t be fair to the students.”
Deborah Voigt’s faculty appointment is being supported by the Voigt Consortium, initiated with a lead gift and challenge grant from Diane B. Wilsey.
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About Deborah Voigt
Lauded as “a Brünnhilde to reckon with” (Entertainment Weekly), Voigt emerged as a leading dramatic soprano with her definitive performances of iconic roles in German opera. She has since become America’s most visible and beloved pa, having been honored in the media with a CBS 60 Minutes profile, features in People and Vanity Fair, spotlights in More and O, The Oprah Magazine, and appearances on Good Morning America, the Today Show, CNN, PBS, and the nationwide telecasts of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and July 4fireworks celebration. Voigt appears regularly-as both performer and host-in the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series, which is transmitted live to movie theaters around the world. Her extensive discography includes the full Met Ring cycle (2012), which won the Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording, and two solo albums on Angel/EMI Classics: All My Heart (2005) and Obsessions (2004). Both CDs were Billboard bestsellers, and Obsessions was one of The New York Times‘ “Best CDs of 2004.” Beloved in the realm of social media, Voigt is known to Twitter fans as a “Dramatic soprano and down-to-earth pa,” and was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of the top 25 cultural tweeters to follow.
In recent years, Voigt has developed projects that resonate on a deep and personal level. Her memoir, Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva (HarperCollins, 2015), was praised as being “startlingly frank” (Associated Press) and “hard to put down” (Opera). She has appeared at book discussions and signings around the country and in interviews with the Today Show, PBS NewsHour and People magazine. The 2015-16 season also featured a return of her one-woman show, Voigt Lessons. Developed with playwright Terrence McNally and director Francesca Zambello at the famed MacDowell Colony, Voigt Lessons weaves 18 songs and arias of special personal significance to Voigt into a vivid and often moving narration of the story of her life and career.
For Voigt’s full biography and to learn about future engagements, visit www.deborahvoigt.com.
About the San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Founded in 1917, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is the oldest conservatory in the American West and has earned an international reputation for producing musicians of the highest caliber. Notable alumni include violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern, conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane, soprano Elza van den Heever, Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman and Ronald Losby, President, Steinway &Sons-Americas, among others. Its faculty includes nearly 30 members of the San Francisco Symphony as well as Grammy and Latin Grammy Award-winning artists in the fields of orchestral and chamber performance and classical guitar. The Conservatory offers its approximately 400 collegiate students fully accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in composition and instrumental and vocal performance. It was the first institution of its kind to offer world-class graduate degree programs in chamber music and classical guitar, and has recently launched the Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) major, an undergraduate and postgraduate diploma program that delivers opportunities in the perse and evolving music industry. SFCM just launched a Roots, Jazz and American Music bachelor’s degree program;it will be the first collaboration of its kind in which a world-class music conservatory is formally linked to an award-winning jazz concert venue and its all-star resident ensemble, SFJAZZ Collective. SFCM’s Pre-College pision provides exceptionally high standards of musical excellence and personal attention to 365 younger students. SFCM faculty and students give nearly 500 public performances each year, most of which are offered to the public at no charge. Its community outreach programs serve over 1,600 school children and over 6,000 members of the wider community who are otherwise unable to hear live performances. The Conservatory’s Civic Center facility is an architectural and acoustical masterwork, and the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall was lauded by the New York Times as the “most enticing classical-music setting”in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, visit www.sfcm.edu.