• December 22, 2014

Great operatic expectations at upcoming benefit concert

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Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014 4:30 am

A star-studded lineup of vocal artists will share the stage at Temple College’s Mary Alice Marshall Performing Arts Auditorium on Saturday for “A Night at the Opera,” a non-subscription, benefit concert for the Temple Symphony Orchestra.

Headliners Robert McFarland, a dramatic baritone, Teri Johnson, lyric coloratura soprano, Penny Hogan, lyric soprano, and George Hogan, bass, will perform solos, duets and ensembles as they blaze their way through popular operatic arias, Broadway tunes and assorted operetta and popular songs.

“It’ll be laid back,” said George Hogan, during a break from the opera classes he teaches at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. “Tom (Fairlie, TSO conductor) has asked us to give some explanatory remarks before the selections.”

Not in an overtly pedagogical manner, however: “It won’t be stiff and academic,” he said.

The performing credentials of the singers ensure a professional, audience-pleasing evening. McFarland won the Metropolitan Opera auditions in 1979 and went on to eight years with the New York City Opera with Beverly Sills.

Since then he’s trod the stages of nearly every major opera house in the world, as well as being a first-call baritone for oratorios, requiems by Brahms and Verdi, and 20th century compositions including Penderecki’s “Passion of Christ According to St. Luke.” A resident of Philadelphia, McFarland is a graduate of McMurray University in Abilene.

Teri Johnson’s soprano voice has been acclaimed by Opera News, The Washington Post and The Tulsa World. She’s served as artist in residence with Cincinnati Opera, Opera Memphis and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as performing throughout America with opera companies. Originally from Salina, Kan., Johnson lives in Waco and teaches at Temple College.

An assistant professor of music at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Penny Hogan has appeared with symphony orchestras and in opera houses throughout the U.S.

A versatile performer, she’s at home working in a musical theater, oratorios and as a concert recitalist. Opera companies from Anchorage to Sarasota have booked her talents, and a guest soloist stint at Carnegie Hall bears witness to her artistic preeminence.

George Hogan, a veteran of nearly every opera house in North America, has toured Europe and even ventured as far away as Sydney, Australia, with his dark-hued bass voice.

Along with wife Penny, he is a refreshing exception to the pervasive characteristic of many university music instructors: over-degreed but woefully lacking in professional performing experience.

Students in the pair’s elite UMHB program, Opera Cru, consistently perform and exceed audiences expectations. Fresh off their standing-room-only joint recital Tuesday, both Hogans promise to be in top form for Saturday’s concert. “The opera part of the program is front-loaded,” George Hogan said. “The back end of the concert will be a lot of fun things, a lot of gems, like ‘Old Man River.’ You’ll be able to enter the world of the artist and really have a wonderful relationship within that hour.”

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