Brooke Tolley is a native of Roanoke, Virginia and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance from Liberty University and a Master of Arts in Voice from Radford University. She made her professional singing debut in 2011 as Kate Pinkerton in Opera Roanoke’s production of Madama Butterfly and has since performed in numerous Opera Roanoke productions including Il Trovatore, Carmen, The Pirates of Penzance, Sweeney Todd, and Susannah. She has been a Young Artist at Asheville Lyric Opera and Chicago Summer Opera, where she made her debut as the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute in 2014, returning to cover the role at Opera Roanoke in 2015. As a concert soloist, Ms. Tolley has performed in Handel’s Messiah, DuBois’ Seven Last Words of Christ, Schubert’s Mass in G, and made her Lincoln Center debut in 2017 singing the soprano solo in Pepper Choplin’s A Journey with the Shepherd.
As a voice teacher, she has maintained a private voice studio for students across the Roanoke Valley since 2012 and has taught voice lessons at Jefferson Center’s Music Lab and Hollins University.
She participated in Leadership Roanoke Valley’s Class of 2019 and was chosen as one of only three opera administrators across the country to attend The Hart Institute for Women Opera Conductors and Administrators at The Dallas Opera in 2018. Brooke was appointed General Director of Opera Roanoke in 2019. She is passionate about connecting audiences of all ages with opera in both traditional and site-specific venues and believes that opera should be accessible to all.
Praised by Opera News as a conductor who “squeezes every drop of excitement and pathos from the score,” Steven White is one of North America’s premiere operatic and symphonic conductors. He made his acclaimed Metropolitan Operadebut in 2010, conducting performances of La traviata starring Angela Gheorghiu. Since then he has conducted a number of Metropolitan Opera performances of La traviata, with such stars as Natalie Dessay, Hei-Kyung Hong, Plácido Domingo, Thomas Hampson, Dmitri Hvorostovksy and Matthew Polenzani. In the past several seasons he has returned to the Met to participate in critically fêted productions of Don Carlo, Billy Budd, The Rake’s Progress and Elektra.
With a vibrant repertoire of over sixty-five titles, Maestro White’s extensive operatic engagements have included performances with New York City Opera, L’Opera de Montréal, Vancouver Opera, Opera Colorado, Pittsburgh Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Baltimore Opera, New Orleans Opera, and many others. In recent seasons he has conducted Rigolettowith San Diego Opera, Otello with Austin Opera, La traviata with Utah Opera, and a world premiere staged production of a brand-new Bärenreiter edition of Gounod’s Faust with Opera Omaha. In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the cancellation of his eleventh production at Arizona Opera, Ariadne auf Naxos, as well as the company premiere of André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire at Opera Roanoke.
Music critics are effusive in their praise of conductor Steven White’s ability to elicit inspired music-making from orchestras. Of his 2016 performances with the Omaha Symphony, the Omaha World-Herald asserts that, "it would be hard to imagine a more complete performance of the Symphonie Fantastique. Highly nuanced, tightly controlled and crisp, Steven White asked everything from orchestra members and they were flawless. He led them out of serene beauty into disturbing dissonance and even to the terrifying point of musical madness without ever losing control. It was insanely good." Opera News declares, “White is amazing: he consistently demands and gets the absolute best playing from the orchestra."
Among the many orchestras Maestro White has conducted are the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, the Mozarteum und Salzburg Kulturvereinigung Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony Orchestra, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Charleston Symphony, the Florida Philharmonic, the Fort Worth Symphonyand London’s Philharmonia Orchestra for a CHANDOS recording of arias featuring his wife, soprano Elizabeth Futral. In 2019 he made debuts with the San Diego Symphony, the Utah Symphony Orchestra and the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra.
Maestro White is a passionate and dedicated educator. He has served multiple artistic residencies and led productions at such institutions as the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Indiana University, the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, the University of Miami Frost School of Music Program in Salzburg, Kennesaw State University and Virginia Tech University. In the summer of 2019 he served as an artist in residence at the Shanghai Conservatory in China and in 2020 he led a critically acclaimed production of La clemenza di Titofor the North Carolina School of the Arts Fletcher Opera Institute. He is in constant demand as an adjudicator of the most prestigious music and vocal competitions, including numerous auditions for the Metropolitan Opera National Council and the Jensen Foundation.
Steven White proudly makes his home in Virginia, where he serves as Artistic Director of Opera Roanoke, a company with which he has been associated for two decades. Maestro White has conducted dozens of productions in Roanoke, including performances of Das Lied von der Erde, Der fliegende Holländer, Fidelio, Falstaff, Otello, Macbeth, Aida, Hänsel und Gretel and many others. In recognition of his contributions to the civic, cultural and artistic life of Southwest Virginia, Roanoke Collegeconferred on Maestro White an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts in May 2013.
Ansley grew up in rural southwest Virginia and recently graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. Singing since she was young, Ansley began to participate in professional performances during high school. Several of those performances include The Tenderland, Pirates of Penzance, The Music Man, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and The Magic Flute. Ansley has also participated in various concerts including Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s The Creation, and Fauré’s Requiem. She has been a young artist with Opera Roanoke and currently serves as a choir section leader at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lynchburg, VA. Passionate about sharing wonderful music with wonderful audiences, she is beginning to develop her own voice studio and continuing to build her singing career as she performs throughout the region.
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