Lauded as having “a pure and very special voice that is firm and creamy-rich across registers” soprano Deborah Berioli has thrilled audiences with her performances of roles such as The Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, the title role in Puccini’s Tosca, Amelia in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème, Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.
On the concert stage, Ms. Berioli has performed in Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall with the Minnesota Orchestra, with Symphony Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz Symphony, Redwood Symphony, The Artist Series of Sarasota, Gulf Coast Symphony, Venice Symphony, Sarasota Pops Orchestra and with the highly acclaimed Mid-Summer Mozart Festival.
Originally from the town of Harmony, New Jersey she now resides in Sarasota, Florida and is the Founder and Artistic Director of Venice Performing Arts Series in Venice, Florida. She holds the position of Director of Music at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Venice in Venice, Florida, serving as organist, choir director and vocalist and is the Music Director for the internationally acclaimed Lemon Bay High School Theatre Troupe in Englewood, Florida.
Deborah Ann Polkinghorn, an Illinois native born into a musical family, can never recall a time when she was not singing. From the time she crooned her first lullaby to her dolls and continuing through university, Deborah dreamed of just one thing: becoming a professional singer. The practical side of her artistic and creative nature led her to McPherson College and subsequently to Florida Gulf Coast University where, in 2003, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education. While at McPherson, she toured Europe with her college choir and performed as a soloist at several benefit concerts. Later, she won the hearts of both audience and judges when she was named Queen of the Oktoberfest of Southwest Florida after singing the German National Anthem.
In 2006, she auditioned for the New England Conservatory of Music’s Summer Opera Institute and was chosen to participate in this prestigious and rigorous program. This proved to be a pivotal event in her life, for since then she has been in continuing demand as a performer in opera, recitals, oratorios, and the theatre.
She is currently a student of renowned teacher, RoseMarie Freni-Molinari of the Sarasota Opera and Sarasota Opera vocal coach Kristen Conn-Kemp. Ms. Freni-Molinari describes Deborah as possessing “a full, rich Mezzo-Soprano voice with an excellent range…A true talent on the stage.”
Deborah enjoys a myriad vocal genre. With a sparkling personality that brings vitality to every performance, an assured stage presence always in command of the material and her voice, and the talent to don the persona of tragedy or comedy with equal aplomb, she has won acclaim for performances that range form the exuberance of Annie Get Your Gun to the drama of Wagner, the solemnity of Brahms, and the joy of Mozart.
Described as having an impressive voice full of promise and one which continues to grow in range and ability, Deborah was hailed by Sasha Von Dassow, music director of North Port Orchestra, as “a rare breed of singer. A diva on stage who is funny, can act, sings a variety of styles from opera to pop with equal skill, and is a pleasure to work with… She is a virtuosic performer.”
Recent performances include appearances with the Gulf Coast Symphony, the Gulf Coast Opera Company, WoodWorks Marimba Ensemble, soloist for special programs at Temple Beth Israel in Longboat Key, Florida, the Dali Museum, and numerous churches. Performances in 2009 included the Fine Arts Series at Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota, Florida where Ms. Polkinghorn performed the Brahms’ Alto Rhapsodie with male chorus and orchestra. Additionally, she was recognized as the recital soloist for the Young Artists Program under the direction of Dr. Ann Stephenson-Moe.
Ms. Polkinghorn is completing her Master’s degree program at University of South Florida in Music Education and Conducting. She is studying conducting with Dr. Daniel Moe and Dr. Richard Zielinski and currently is the Director of Cantors at Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church in Sarasota, Florida.
Deborah is married to timpanist and composer, Thomas E. Suta, Jr. and currently resides in Bradenton, Florida.
Brad Diamond is a talented tenor known for his musicianship and style. In recent seasons, Dr. Diamond has performed Messiah with the Roanoke Music College, Buffalo Philharmonic, Jacksonville Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Oratorio Society of New York, Nashville Symphony, Tulsa Philharmonic, and Princeton Pro Musica. For three years he was a featured artist in “An Evening of Gilbert and Sullivan” which performed with symphony orchestras in Cedar Rapids, Buffalo, Lakeside, Richmond and St. Louis among others. On the operatic stage he has performed the role of Almaviva in the Barber of Seville with Lyric Opera Cleveland, Opera Pacific, and a recording for Public Television Broadcast with the Florentine Opera Company of Milwaukee. In recent seasons, he has performed the role of Ralph Rackstraw in HMS Pinaforewith the Dayton opera and Prince Ramiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola with the Indianapolis and Nashville Opera Companies. In March of 2006, Diamond returned to the Florentine Opera to sing the role of Tonio in La Fille du Regiment by Donizetti.
A Specialist in oratorio repertoire, Dr. Diamond has performed the Evangelist in Bach’s St. John Passion with the Winter Park Bach Festival and Trinity Church at Wall Street. He has also performed the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Mathew Passion with the Richmond Symphony, Trinity Church at Wall Street and Winter Park Bach Festival. Recent engagements include Bach’sSt. Mathew Passion, Handel’s Messiah, and Xerxes with the Richmond Symphony, Haydn’s Paukenmesse with the Charleston Symphony, Bach’s Magnificat with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Spokane Symphony and Greenville Symphony and Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem with the Bangor Symphony. Diamond’s performance repertoire includes works by Cavalli, Monteverdi, Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Rossini, Berlioz, Orff, Bartok, Janacek and Britten with symphony orchestras across the United States and Canada.
Dr. Diamond completed his Bachelors of Music Degree from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ in 1991. He received his Masters and Doctorate degrees from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music between 1993 and 2004. While attending Westminster, Diamond sang as a soloist under the baton of the late Leonard Bernstein. Dr. Diamond joins the voice faculty at the University of South Florida this fall as an Assistant Professor of Voice. Diamond travels as a guest recitalist and presents his lecture “Singing With Purpose” at universities across the United States and Canada.
Douglas Renfroe is a nationally acclaimed bass baritone who made his Lincoln Center debut in Schumann’s Paradise and Peri and his Carnegie Hall debut in Orff’s Carmina Burana. He has specialized in oratorio works and has performed throughout the United States and Europe the Beethoven Ninth Symphony, Brahms’ Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. Conductors with whom he has sung include Leopold Stokowski, Leonard Bernstein and Loren Maezel.
Critics in Austria have said: “Douglas Renfroe’s virile bass, remarkably lyrical in the upper register, was equally rich in the dark deeps of the low sustained tones.” Regarding his theatre works, as Tevye it has been said: “Mr. Renfroe owns the role of Tevye. His rich vocal line is only matched by the warmth he displays as the father. He acts as if he talks to God on a regular basis.”
Dr. Renfroe has appeared at the Washington Opera with Placido Domingo, the Boston Opera directed by Sarah Caldwell, and has been a concert recitalist under Columbia Artist Management. From 1970-1974, he was the Director and Bass Soloist with the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters in Washington, D.C. In 2003, he made his Edinburgh Music Festival debut. He has been featured as soloist in several recordings with various symphonies throughout the world in addition to a solo recording of German lieder. In 2006 he returned to Bulgaria and Israel performing the Verdi Requiem and portrayed Tevye in Fiddler On the Roof. He returned to the Varna International Music Festival in 2007 and sang Elijah, prior to returning to Scotland for his fifth concert tour. In 2009 he presented his ninth European concert tour.