Artistic Director and Principal Conductor
The Artistic Directorship of Opera Southwest is sponsored by:
Anthony Barrese, hailed by South Florida Classical Review as conducting “with passion and idiomatic fluency,” earns accolades as both a composer and a conductor. He is the recipient of the 2007 Georg Solti Foundation U.S. award for young conductors. His original works have won numerous awards, and he is regularly engaged by opera companies in North America and Italy.
Currently serving as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of Opera Southwest, Mr. Barrese will lead the company’s season productions of Hector Armienta’s Zorro, Rossini’s Le comte Ory, and Puccini’s Turandot, as well as Florida Grand Opera’s production of Il barbiere di Siviglia. Last season, the maestro led the company’s productions of La scala di seta, La traviata, and Pelleas et Melisande. Additionally, he returned to Opera Delaware for their productions of Il barbiere di Siviglia and Le nozze di Figaro as well as Folks Operetta’s production of Korngold’s rarely-heard opera, Die Kathrin in Chicago. Future seasons will see Barrese reprise Armienta’s Zorro.In recent seasons, the Maestro conducted Ali Baba, Tosca, Maria de Buenos Aires, La cambiale di matrimonio, Lohengrin, Guillaume Tell, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Fledermaus, La Cenerentola, Rossini’s Otello with the American staged première of the finale lieto, and a “Return of Rossini” festival, all with Opera Southwest; Sarasota Opera’s production of Romeo et Juliette; La bohéme with Opera Tampa; Kurt Weill’s operetta Johnny Johnson with Chicago Folks Operetta; The Merry Widow for Opera Saratoga; Suor Angelica and Il Tabarro with Opera Delaware; and Orfeo ed Euridice in a return to Florida Grand Opera.Mo. Barrese made débuts at Florida Grand Opera conducting Les pêcheurs de perles and Norma, Opera Theatre of St. Louis conducting The Kiss, Opera North conducting L’elisir d’amore, and Boston Lyric Opera conducting Don Giovanni. In 2014, Mr. Barrese held the prestigious honor of leading the world première of Franco Faccio’s little known opera Amleto with Opera Southwest, not heard anywhere since 1871. With his background as a musicologist, Barrese worked vigorously for nearly ten years to rediscover, prepare, and edit the critical edition of Amleto, in conjunction with Casa Ricordi, for American audiences. In the following years, Amleto premièred on the east coast with Opera Delaware and as a part of the Bregenz Festival in Austria.
Mr. Barrese made his operatic conducting début in Milan with La bohème and made his début in France conducting Turandot at the Opéra de Massy. He led several productions with Sarasota Opera including, Lakmé, Le nozze di Figaro, and Hansel and Gretel; and a new production of Turandot in the historic Teatro Ventidio Basso, with a cast that included Nicola Martinucci as Caláf. Barrese was the Assistant Conductor of the Dallas Opera in 2006-2007 and later returned there as Guest Conductor for a production of Tosca, and La Wally. He also recorded Roberto Andreoni’s “quattro luci sul lago” with I Solisti della Scala, a chamber group made up of the first chair musicians of the La Scala Philharmonic, for broadcast on Italian National Radio (RAI 3).
Other notable highlights include being the recipient of numerous composition awards including a N.E.C. Contemporary Ensemble Composition Competition Award for his “Madrigale a 3 voci femminili,” The Sir Georg Solti Conducting award, and two B.M.I. Student Composers Awards.
“…paints [the score] with a heavy strength, Verdi-like colors and brilliant contrasts…” – Opera News
Amleto – “Providing a pleasure beyond mere curiosity, Amleto is a genuine discovery…. Conducting the score he rediscovered, Anthony Barrese paints it with a heavy strength, Verdi-like colors and brilliant contrasts.”
“… technically impeccable and deeply infused with dramatic urgency…” – The Spokesman
Tosca – “In this production, Anthony Barrese, delivered an interpretation which was both technically impeccable and deeply infused with dramatic urgency. While allowing the singers ample time to support their voices and mold their phrases meaningfully, Barrese never allowed tension to flag during the moments of tense repose Puccini provides in Acts 2 and 3. The enthusiastic applause he received would have been just as great in Milan or Vienna..”
“…conducted with passion and idiomatic fluency…” – South Florida Classical Review
Norma – “Anthony Barrese conducted with passion and idiomatic fluency, never allowing the dramatic tension to flag while drawing first-rate orchestral execution.”
“…conducted a lively reading of the score…” – The New York Times
The Kiss – “Anthony Barrese conducted a lively reading of the score, with its tuneful Czech-inflected melodies and stirring orchestral accompaniment.”
“…led a remarkably colorful vocal and orchestral performance…” – Broad Street Review
Semiramide – “Conductor Anthony Barrese, who revived Amleto last year, did an even more impressive job with this more complicated, more demanding piece. He trained an excellent cast and led a remarkably colorful vocal and orchestral performance.”
Visit Anthony Barrese’s website at anthonybarrese.com
Artistic Director Emeritus
A native Texan, stage director David Bartholomew graduated from Boston’s venerable New England Conservatory in 1967 with a master’s degree in piano performance. After a period of concertizing in the New England area in both solo recital and chamber music, he was awarded the prestigious Frank Huntington Beebe Award for opera study in Germany. Following his year abroad, he returned to Boston to chair the opera department at his alma mater where his first production was Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress conducted by Gunther Schuller. He went on to direct over twenty operas at N.E.C. ranging from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte to Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. During the 1970’s he directed both Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito and Massenet’s Werther for the young Boston Lyric Opera and created a new production of Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel for San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theater. He also directed the 1974 premiere of Thomas Pasatieri’s Signor Deluso for Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts in Vienna, VA.
In recent years, Mr. Bartholomew was both Artistic and Stage Director for Tacoma Opera (WA) and frequent guest director for Mercury Opera Rochester (NY), Sacramento Opera (CA), Mobile Opera (AL), Nevada Opera (Reno) and Fargo-Moorhead Opera. He has been on the faculties of Boston University, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, The Boston Conservatory, and guest artist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Puget Sound (WA), and The Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA.
Mr. Bartholomew has directed more than fifteen operas for Opera Southwest.
Aaron Howe has been making music in New Mexico for over 20 years and has served as chorus master for Opera Southwest since 2018. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from Eastern New Mexico University and his Master of Music from the University of New Mexico. He served as Music Director for Heights First Church of The Nazarene, Community of Joy Lutheran Church, and the Metropolitan Community Church in Albuquerque. He also directed the choral program at St. Pius X High School, and has worked as music director for many community theaters in Albuquerque, including Musical Theater Southwest, Albuquerque Little Theater, and Play Conservatory. Since 2010, Aaron has served as the Artistic Director of The New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus, programming and conducting their concert season, and helping to fulfill their mission of changing the world through music. In 2013, Aaron co-founded The Rio Rancho Youth Chorus and has served as its Artistic Director since that time. In 2016 Aaron became the Artistic Director of the Zia Singers, a women’s chorus that has been performing in Santa Fe for over 25 years. Aaron is proud and honored to be an active participant in the wonderful musical arts community here in New Mexico.