Met Opera Star Brings Roanoke Crowd to Their Feet

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Richard Zeller accompanied by pianist Michael Barnes.

Richard Zeller accompanied by pianist Michael Barnes.

Fans of opera and classical music enjoyed a rare appearance at the Jefferson Center on Sunday, Nov 7th, by well known Metropolitan opera star Richard Zeller, accompanied by pianist Michael Barnes.  Zeller’s powerful and rich baritone voice filled the room with a variety of music ranging from Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, and Henri Duparc.

One of the most notable songs that highlighted Zeller’s powerful delivery was “Voltre Toast” (Toreador aria) from the opera “Carmen.” This particular song demands a strong delivery and stage presence, which Zeller readily produces.  He sings as easily in the upper ranges as the lower ones and never lacked for clarity.

Also well received was “Te Deum” from the opera “Tosca.” Music from Rachmoninoff followed and Zeller then demonstrated his ability to sing a variety of music by closing the program with “Some Enchanted Evening” from “South Pacific” and “Ol’ Man River” from “Showboat.” Zeller and Barnes received a very well deserved standing ovation.

Barnes is an especially gifted pianist who seems to enjoy listening to Zeller sing as well as playing for him. He has played for such notables as Pavoritti, Sarah Brightman, Julianne Baird, and others.

Zeller’s background includes many international orchestra appearances, as well as domestic.  He recently appeared with the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, and the Cleveland Orchestra.  Zeller has made numerous appearances with the Metropolitan Opera and many other companies. His frequently performed Verdi baritone roles include Falstaff, Rigoletto, Macbeth, Don Carlo and others.

Zeller immediately left Roanoke for an appearance in Portland, Oregon.

The recital was part of  “Stars in the Star City Recital Series” presented by Opera Roanoke.  The next performance is scheduled for January 23, 2011, with another star from the Metropolitan Opera, Leah Partridge.  This will be followed by the fully staged production of “Madam Butterfly” on March 18 and 20th, 2011, according to Scott Williamson, General & Artistic Director.