The Grand Tour




SATURDAY, APRIL 24 (7:30 PM), 2021 at the Valentine Theatre



Toledo Opera will present The Grand Tour, a concert of Great Opera Choruses with conductor Kevin Bylsma leading the renowned Toledo Opera Chorus and soloists accompanied by orchestra. The Toledo Opera Chorus is at the heart of Toledo Opera’s musical activity and in this concert,  we feature them. The Toledo Opera Chorus members are involved in almost every production, performing as everything from priests and nuns, to townsfolk and milk maids to courtesans and everything in between! Highlights will include famous choruses and arias from popular operas by Bizet, Verdi, Puccini, Bernstein, Wagner, and much more. 


Starring The Toledo Opera Chorus; Jill Gardner, Soprano; Jesse Donner, Tenor; and, Corey Crider, Baritone




To be announced

Jill Gardner, Soprano

American soprano Jill Gardner sits among today’s leading operatic heroines. Considered one of the great interpreters of the title role of Tosca, and Opera News calls Ms. Gardner’s interpretation “fresh and focused” and states “in Gardner’s hands, her Act II aria, ‘Vissi d’arte,’ was not merely a famous showstopper but an opportunity to reveal layers of Tosca’s character…” Last season, Ms. Gardner performed as a soloist in concert with Scott Carroll with Tabor Opera House, performed the role of Giorgetta/Santuzza (Tabbaro/Cavalleria Rusticana) with Maryland Lyric Opera, and the title role of Tosca with Tri-Cities Opera and Eugene Opera. Ms. Gardner has quite a history as a leading lady in opera’s most infamous repertoire. Some highlights from these include the title roles of Manon Lescaut with Opera Grand Rapids, which she also covered with Washington National Opera; Madama Butterfly in her role début with Arizona Opera and at Piedmont Opera; Suor Angelica with Opera Carolina; Lady Macbeth (Macbeth) with Michigan Opera Theatre and Chautauqua Opera; Tatiana  (Eugene Onegin) with Eugene Opera; Mimì (La bohème) with Boston Lyric Opera; Marguerite (Faust) with Madison Opera; Minnie (La fanciulla del West) with Opera Coeur d’Alene, in her role début; and Nedda (Pagliacci) with Michigan Opera Theatre, Mill City Opera, and her début with Lyric Opera of Chicago. 

Jesse Donner, Tenor

A recent graduate of the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, tenor Jesse Donner has already distinguished himself on the operatic and concert stage with his “vibrant” (Chicago Classical Review) and “fresh and juicy” (Chicago Tribune) voice. This season he will join the Louisville Orchestra as the soloist in Mozart’s Requiem and Handel’s Messiah. This season also brings his company debut with Dupage Opera as Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus). In 2017-2018, Mr. Donner made his debut with Union Avenue Opera as Ismaele (Nabucco) and sang the Emporer Alteum (Turandot) with Cedar Rapids Opera. Mr. Donner was a resident artist at Lyric Opera of Chicago from 2014-2017, where he was commended for his “polished” and “heroic” tenor (Chicago Classical Review). In 2016-2017, he sang Froh (Das Rheingold), First Armored Man (Die Zauberflöte), and Flavio (Norma) for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, while covering Normanno (Lucia di Lammermoor), Helenus (Les Troyens), and Lensky (Eugene Onegin). With the Ryan Opera Center, Donner’s concert appearances included an excerpt from Troilus And Cressida with the Civic Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis, and a concert performance of Lennie Small (Of Mice and Men) with the Grant Park Orchestra, where he “came into his own with his touching portrait of the simple-minded Lennie” (Chicago Tribune).


Corey Crider, Baritone

Baritone Corey Crider is an alumnus of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center and recently returned to the company as Malatesta (Don Pasquale). Additional recent highlights include Marcello (La bohème) with the Munich Philharmonic and Arizona Opera, Sharpless (Madame Butterfly) with Dayton Opera, and Escamillo (Carmen) with Lyric Opera of Kansas City. The 2018-2019 season saw him as Dancaïro (Carmen) with The Dallas Opera, the Captain (Florencia en el Amazonas) with Pensacola Opera, Germont (La Traviata) with Opera on the James, and Lancelot (Camelot) with Charlottesville Opera. Past seasons included returns to Opera Roanoke as Tonio (Pagliacci), The Dallas Opera as Prince Affron (The Golden Cockerel), Escamillo (Carmen) with Madison Opera, Germont (La Traviata) with Opera at DuPage, a return to Opera Roanoke as Marcello (La bohème), and an appearance with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra for Belshazzar’s Feast, Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff (Opera on the James) and the title role in Rigoletto (Mississippi Opera). Additionally, he sang Scarpia (Tosca) with Intermountain Opera and Finger Lakes Opera, returned to Opera Roanoke to perform his acclaimed Emile DeBeque (South Pacific), and joined the Opera Company of Middlebury as Michele/Marco (Il tabarro/Gianni Schicchi).


Kevin Bylsma, Conductor

With more than two decades experience as a vocal coach, collaborative pianist, choral conductor, and organist, Kevin J. Bylsma is a musician of impressive depth and ability, well known for his work in opera, art song, and oratorio. A longtime member of the Toledo Opera staff as Head of Music Preparation and Chorus Master, Kevin was formerly Music Director of the Department of Community Programs for the Michigan Opera Theatre and vocal coach, accompanist, and chorus master for OPERA! Lenawee. In recitals and master classes, he has collaborated with the great American singers Samuel Ramey, Diane Soviero, Marilyn Horne, Michelle De Young, and Irina Mishura. He is the Co-founder and Artistic Director of the Ann Arbor Festival of Song, and his solo piano performances and collaborative work have been featured on WTGE’s Live from FM91 program. Dedicated to the education and training of the next generation of operatic talent, Mr. Bylsma is Instructor of Opera and repetiteur at Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts, responsible for vocal coaching and serving as a collaborative pianist for the school’s large body of young singers. Mr. Bylsma also serves on the artistic staff of OperaWorks, an intensive opera training program, based in Los Angeles, CA. and he is the Associate Organist of the historic Mariner’s Church of Detroit.

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