CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Baritone Muriello and pianist/composer Thomas present UI faculty/guest
recital March 5
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Baritone John Muriello and pianist/composer Richard
Pearson Thomas will present a program of Thomas' music, including a re-telling
of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" written specifically for Muriello,
in a free recital at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 5 in Clapp Recital Hall on
the University of Iowa campus.
The light-hearted program will also feature character pieces by Gilbert
& Sullivan, Marc Blitzstein and William Bolcom.
A singer whose work has ranged from opera and operetta to concert and
musical theater, Muriello joined the UI School of Music faculty last fall.
This will be his first performance at the UI.
Muriello's work in operetta and musical theater has been extensive.
He has most recently performed in the off-Broadway production of "Terra
Incognita" by Roberto Sierra and as Alidoro in Rossini's "La
Cenerentola" (Cinderella) with Skylight Opera Theatre in Milwaukee.
He also appeared as Miss Sylvia Bills with the satirical La Gran Scena
Opera di New York on tour in Australia and Germany. Upcoming engagements
including performances as the Narrator and Mysterious Man in Sondheim's
"Into the Woods" and Marcello in "La Boheme" next summer
for Lyric Opera Cleveland.
"There will be nothing esoteric about this program," Muriello
said of the March 5 recital. "Everything will be right out there for
the audience to enjoy."
Thomas' abridged and condensed version of "A Christmas Carol"
has the singer re-telling the familiar story. There are 10 different characters,
all portrayed by the same singer, with characterization embedded in the
music but also different voices for each of the characters.
"This piece is a lot of fun," Muriello said. "It has
a humorous approach to the story without making fun of any of the characters."
The other Thomas work on the program is "Ossessione" (Obsession),
a group of eight songs that were inspired by 17th-century Italian songs
that are familiar to classically trained singers. The original songs, which
are by different composers and have no musical connection, were selected
for the dramatic possibilities of their texts. Thomas used the original
Italian texts in his settings, as well as musical ideas from the 17th-century
Muriello has performed operatic and musical theater roles with Opera
Carolina, the Banff Centre in Canada, L'Opera Francais of New York, Lyric
Opera Cleveland, Ohio Light Opera, Seaside Music Theater and the Southeastern
Savoyards of Atlanta. This roles have ranged from Guglielmo in Mozart's
"Cosi fan tutte" to Jupiter in Offenbach's "Orpheus in the
Underworld" to Voltaire in Bernstein's "Candide."
He was a winner in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in North Carolina,
in the Washington International Competition and the Louise D. McMahon International
Song Competition in Oklahoma, and toured two seasons with the Mantovani
Thomas has composed extensively for theater, concert and film. His music
for "What Became Known as . . . the Eleanor Affair" was awarded
the prize for "Best Original Score" at the 1997 NYU Film Festival
and his off-off Broadway musical, "Ladies in a Maze" was produced
by Encompass Music Theatre.
In addition to performances by the Boston Pops and the Convent Garden
Festival, his theatrical works have been staged by Houston Grand Opera,
Chautauqua Opera, the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, the Banff Centre and
the Skylight Opera Theatre. His pieces "AIDS Anxiety" was singled
out for performance in Washington, D.C. at the 1992 Congressional Forum
on the International HIV/AIDS Pandemic and appears on the CD "AIDS
Thomas' educational operas for children have toured in the northeastern
United States and western Canada. He is composer-in-residence at the Gold
Opera/Young Audiences New York. An accomplished pianist, Thomas has performed
with singers throughout the United States and Europe. He is a native of
Montana and a graduate of the Eastman School of Music.