Dreiser's Sister Carrie "came to housebound and airless America like a great free Western wind, and to our stuffy domesticity gave us the first fresh air since Mark Twain and Whitman".
— Sinclair Lewis, Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1930
The celebrated mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala (The Adventures of Pinocchio, Doubt, The Manchurian Candidate) creates the role of Carrie, the young woman born into poverty who defies social and sexual norms to rise to stardom on the New York stage. The brilliant lyric baritone Keith Phares ("a strong contender for iconographic recognition" — Opera News) creates the role of Hurstwood, one of the great tragic characters of American literature: the established middle-class man who throws away his life in pursuit of Carrie. Theodore Dreiser, an ardent lifelong Socialist, presented a view of the gulf separating the Leisure Class from the Working Class that was originally condemned as 'sordid.' His bleak and uncompromising depiction is newly relevant, as America once again veers between extremes of politics and class identity.
She has been a soloist with the New York Festival of Song, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the New Jersey Symphony, the Jerusalem Symphony, the Jacksonville Symphony, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Virginia Symphony, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Elijah with Bryn Terfel. Recent engagements include Mahler's Second Symphony with The Minnesota Orchestra and the Quad City Orchestra, The Mozart Requiem with both the Florida Bach Festival and the Jackonville Syphony, the world premiere of Jeffrey Van's Reaping the Whirlwind with the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, the title role in Annelies, an Anne Frank Oratorio, with both the Minnesota Oratorio Society and at Montclair State University, and Bach's St. Matthew Passion. In recital, Ms. Zabala has performed at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Barns at Wolf Trap, with the Source Song Festival, and on the Salzburg International Chamber Music Series, among many others. Her collaboration with composer and pianist Gregg Kallor is highly praised for their recording and performances of his compositions on the CD Exhilaration: Dickinson and Yeats Songs. Zabala and Kallor have performed this program in New York City, Minneapolis, and Salzburg, and on the Tuesday Musical of Akron guest artist series. Upcoming engagements also include recital appearances at National Sawdust in Brooklyn and St. Olaf College, Messiah with Charlotte Symphony, St. Matthew Passion with both the Quad City Symphony and Colorado Symphony, The role of Lelio in Viardot's Le Dernier Sorcier at the Kennedy Center's Millenium Stage, and revisiting the role of Paula in Florencia en el Amazonas with San Diego Opera.
Adriana Zabala was raised in Miami, Caracas, and Houston, and is an alum of apprenctice programs at Tanglewood, Minnesota Opera, Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera. She is a graduate of Louisiana State Unversity and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and was a Fulbright Scholar at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. She is Chair of the Voice Division at the University of Minnesota, where she teaches applied voice, graduate vocal literature, and Vive les Arts!, a Global Seminar in Paris, France.
For his debut with Florentine Opera, he portrayed the title role in Elmer Gantry (a role he created for its world premiere with Nashville Opera), prompting Opera News to write that “Keith Phares's scrupulously rendered Elmer Gantry appears a strong contender for iconographic recognition. Beautifully vocalized and bursting with charismatic smarm (think Burt Lancaster with buttery legato), Phares's achievement will prove a difficult act to follow.” He also created the role of Charlie in Jake Heggie's Three Decembers which he premiered at Houston Grand Opera and San Francisco Opera, playing opposite Frederica von Stade. His performance was praised for his “rich, accurate voice; good looks; and fine acting ability to the part of Charlie, making his performance the highlight of the production.” (San Francisco Classical Voice).
Additional credits of note include his Metropolitan Opera debut in L'enfant et les sortilèges under the baton of James Levine, Ned Keene in Peter Grimes and Donald in Billy Budd at Washington National Opera, Dandini in La cenerentola with Glimmerglass Opera, Anthony in Sweeney Todd, Telemaco in Il ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, and Fritz (Pierrot) in Die tote Stadt all at New York City Opera, Valentin in Faust with Utah Opera, Claudio in Beatrice and B&eaigu;n&eaigu;dict at Santa Fe Opera and with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Sir Colin Davis, Carmina Burana and Maximilian in Candide with the San Francisco Symphony and Deceit in Gerald Barry's The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
A graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center and the New England Conservatory, he was a national winner of the 1998 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a finalist in the 1999 Eleanor McCollum Competition of the Houston Grand Opera. He has been recognized with a Richard Gaddes Grant from the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and a Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Juilliard School of Music. He also is honored to have been affiliated for many seasons with the Marilyn Horne Foundation, under whose auspices he appeared in numerous recitals and master classes throughout the United States.