Classical Voice

Classical Voice


Dr. Donna Connolly, Coordinator of Vocal Studies 


*Auditions will be held on March 3rd at 10am













Completion of this major prepares one for a career as a vocal performer (solo or ensemble), private voice teacher, or choral conductor. Continued study may include a master’s degree in vocal performance.

MM Classical Voice 

The degree program puts emphasis on the study and performance of all styles of Classical Voice. The culminating activities include a research paper and a full-length recital.


Undergraduate applicants must prepare two memorized songs, which may be performed from either the classical or Broadway repertoire. One item should be sung in a language foreign to the singer. Candidates may be required to sing only one of the prepared works. Operatic repertoire is not required. Some art song examples are listed below:
English:  American folk songs or sacred songs or selections from beginners anthologies
Italian: Selections from 26 Italian songs and arias or other Italian collections of the 16th- 19th Centuries, single composer collections such as Donaudy, Tosti, Vivaldi, Scarlatti
German: Brief, simpler lieder selections of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn
French: Brief, accessible mélodie of Chausson, Chaminade, Faure, Hahn
Spanish: Folk song settings of Spanish songs, Granados, de Falla, Rodrigo
Graduate applicants must prepare three pieces in three languages, one of which must be an aria. All applicants are required to take placement tests in music theory, ear training and keyboard. Auditioners should bring sheet music to the auditions. An accompanist is provided.


Dr. Donna Connolly - Area Coordinator of Vocal Studies
Soprano, Donna Zapola-Connolly, has garnered acclaim in her international career from locales as diverse as Bangkok, Cairo, Manila, Hong Kong and Korea as well as the major opera and concert houses in New York City and elsewhere around the United States.
First coming to the opera-loving public's attention with Opera Theatre of St. Louis' acclaimed production of Il Viaggio a Reims, she has appeared as Violetta in La Traviata in Manila, Micaela in Carmen in Cairo, Agnese in Opera Orchestra of New York's concert of Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda conducted by Eve Queler, and under the direction of Leonard Slatkin with the St. Louis Symphony in Janácek's Danube at Avery Fischer Hall in New York's Lincoln Center. She has also toured the United States as Violetta in La Traviata with the New York City National Company and the Western Opera Theater touring company from San Francisco Opera. The soprano has toured and performed extensively in the Middle and Far Eastern countries.
Ms. Zapola-Connolly debuted as Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus in New Orleans and Tampa, and returned to Tampa Bay Opera as Liù in Puccini's Turandot. Ms. Zapola-Connolly has also appeared as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte for Western Opera Theatre, Clorinda in Opera Theatre of St. Louis' Cenerentola by Rossini, and the Countess and Fiordiligi in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte for the June Opera Festival of New Jersey. She had performed the lead in the world premiere performance of the late Jerome Moross' Sorry, Wrong Number, which will be recorded on the Helicon label.
In the concert repertoire, Ms. Zapola has sung Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2., "Lobgesang", with the Brevard Symphony; in Janácek's Danube, Leonard Slatkin conducting; with the Pittsburgh Oratorio Society in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis; with the Albany Symphony Orchestra in Mozart's Requiem, Paavo Järvi conducting; with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra in Orff's Carmina Burana; and with the Cayuga Chamber Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Carl St.Clair in Mozart's Requiem and Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass. For the Millennium, Maestro Jesus López-Cobos selected her for his Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Millennium presentation of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony that sent patrons "soaring into the new era," according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
A Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition winner, as well as a first prizewinner in the Liederkranz Foundation Competition, and the National Federation of Music Clubs National winner, the soprano is also a recipient of the Sullivan Foundation Grant and the Puccini Foundation Award. Born in Johnstown, PA, Ms. Zapola-Connolly apprenticed at Chautauqua and Merola and was a member of the acclaimed Opera Music Theater International, Jerome Hines, Director. Ms. Zapola-Connolly was an Artist-in-Residence at the internationally admired Ruth Eckerd Hall and Performing Arts Center in Florida. In addition, Ms. Zapola-Connolly was presented with the "Distinguished Alumni" award from Seton Hill University and most recently had the honor of being selected for the distinguished Voice Internship at Mount Sinai's Grabscheid Voice Center in New York City under the leadership of Dr. Peak Woo.
Most recently Ms. Zapola-Connolly was a featured recitalist in a tour of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Holy Land sponsored by Bravo productions and the Abu Dhabi Music Foundation. This year found Ms. Zapola-Connolly appearing at Carnegie Hall as a soloist in Stephen Crawford's Ave Maria Mass. Later this year she will perform Rodrigo's Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios with the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra. Recently Ms. Zapola-Connolly performed the role of Tosca in the opera Tosca in Dubai, UAE
Dr. Zapola-Connolly holds a Bachelor's Degree in music Education from Seton Hill College in Greensburg, PA, a Master's degree from Carnegie-Mellon University and has her DMA degree from Rutgers University. She was a member of the faculty at the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music and presently she is Coordinator of Vocal Studies in The Music, Dance, and Theater Department at New Jersey City University. Dr. Zapola-Connolly had the esteemed pleasure of serving as a faculty member of the AIMS Summer Music program in Graz, Austria and most recently served as a faculty member of Summer Music Study Abroad program in Tuscania, Italy under the auspices of the Lorenzo de Medici School in Italy.
Born in Johnstown, PA, Ms. Zapola apprenticed at Chautauqua and Merola and was Artist-in-Residence at the internationally admired Ruth Eckerd Hall and Performing Arts Center in Florida. She is currently an active member of the National Teachers of Singing, Inc., Music Teachers National Association, New York Singing Teachers' Association, Inc., Music Educators National Conference, and the New Jersey Educator's Association.


 John Hancock 
Critically acclaimed for his theatrical versatility and powerful yet refined vocalism, baritone John Hancock made his Metropolitan Opera debut as le Gendarme in Les Mamelles de Tirésias under the baton of James Levine. He has since appeared in a dozen roles with the company, including: Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Falke in Die Fledermaus, Albert in Werther, Brétigny in Manon, Capulet in Roméo et Juliette, Astley in Prokofiev’s The Gambler and both Marcello and Schaunard in La Bohème. With San Francisco Opera, he has sung the roles of Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Yeletsky in Queen of Spades, and Lescaut in Manon Lescaut.
A gifted interpreter of contemporary opera, Hancock has created leading roles in several world premieres, notably: Lowell Liebermann’s The Picture of Dorian Gray at Opéra de Monte Carlo; Stephen Paulus’s Heloise and Abelard as an alumni artist at the Juilliard School; and Central Park, a trilogy of American operas, at Glimmerglass Opera (also broadcast on PBS Great Performances).  Of his performance in the American premiere of Pascal Dusapin’s Faustus, the Last Night at Spoleto USA, The New York Times wrote, “John Hancock was particularly strong in the title role, seizing every opportunity to soar.”
In 2017, Hancock makes his debut at Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires as Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier. He also joins forces with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra for performances of Vaughan Williams's Five Mystical Songs. 2016 career highlights included debuts with Boston Lyric Opera as Albert in Werther, and with Nashville Opera as Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, as well as performances in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Salome. Other recent debuts are with Opera Colorado as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, and with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic under Edo de Waart in Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, which was recorded for CD release on the Pentatone Classics label. Joining Central City Opera as Mr. Webb in Ned Rorem’s masterpiece Our Town, “John Hancock not only had a towering physical presence, but had a voice to match: a mellifluous, responsive baritone that rang out soundly in the house.” – Opera Today. At Spoleto USA, he assumed the title role in the American premiere of Philip Glass’ Kepler, in which “Hancock sang the title role with an appealing suppleness, admirable clarity and a necessary but never overstated touch of melancholy.” –New York Times.  In 2011, Hancock sang the title role in Falstaff in a widely acclaimed new production by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser at Angers Nantes Opera and Opéra de Rennes in France.
Other notable performances include Ramiro in l’Heure espagnole with Seiji Ozawa’s Veroza Opera Japan, the title role in Eugene Onegin at Opera Ireland, and John Buchanan in Lee Hoiby’s Summer and Smoke at Central City Opera. He has sung leading roles with companies including Washington National Opera, New Israeli Opera, Opéra du Rhin, Theater des Champs-Elysées, Portland Opera and Cincinnati Opera.
A powerful presence on the concert stage, John Hancock made his Carnegie Hall debut in Carmina Burana with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the Collegiate Chorale. He received acclaim for his performances with the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall of Schoeck’s tour de force for baritone and orchestra, Lebendig begraben, and with the Radio Kamer Filharmonie at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw reprising the title role in Faustus, the Last Night. His concert repertoire includes Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Kindertotenlieder; Zemlinksy’s Lyric Symphony; Schoeck’s Nachhall; Fauré’s Requiem; and Gounod’s Mors et Vita.
In 2012, Albany Records released Little Heaven, a CD recording of songs of Lowell Liebermann featuring soprano Brenda Rae and Mr. Hancock in the composer’s Appalachian Liebeslieder. Mr. Hancock’s discography also includes Les Mamelles de Tirésias with the Metropolitan Opera and James Levine, Lully’s Armide under the baton of Philippe Herreweghe, and Torke’s Strawberry Fields. His performances of Stravinsky’s Abraham and Isaac, Sibelius’s Kullervo, Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony and Schoeck’s Nachhall with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra are available on iTunes and
Mr. Hancock is a graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center, where he was winner of the Richard F. Gold Grant presented by the Shoshana Foundation. He is the grateful recipient of grants and prizes from the Metropolitan Opera National Council, the Loren L. Zachary Society, and the Sullivan Foundation. Since 2012, he has served as an adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.


Adria Firestone
Adria Firestone ran to the safe haven of theater, opera and music when she was ten years old. Her credits range from her renowned Carmen to Family Guy. For our troops in Desert Storm, from Shanghai to the Pacific Rim and from Cairo to Canada, Adria has performed throughout the globe. After 30+ years, she left the stage pulled to another purpose for her life. 
She became a life coach, speaker and educator. For the past decade Adria has taught at a university in the NY area. Adria has given classes and seminars in self-help, excellence and presentation skills throughout the world.
Adria is a transformer, inspiring the miraculous power of our spiritual essence to create joyous, abundant lives and leave a legacy of light for this beloved planet.American tenor Mark Nicolson possesses a uniquely beautiful lirico spinto voice coupled with a stunning stage presence and an authentic, natural charisma. Mentored by some of opera's most legendary artists, he has developed an extensive repertoire encompassing Italian, French, German, Czech and English roles to which he brings a mastery of diction, style and phrasing.


Mark Nicolson
Mr. Nicolson has sung Cavaradossi in Tosca at the Palacio de Belles Artes in Mexico City, L'Opéra de Québec, the Atlanta Opera and New Zealand's Canterbury Opera. His performances of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly took him on an eight month tour throughout Great Britain with England’s Opera North and to the Mississippi and Baton Rouge Operas. He portrayed Radamès in Aida with the Orchestra Philharmonique International at Radio France (Paris) and also with Opera Illinois as well as Calaf in Turandot with the Coro Lirico. He sang Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos with New Orleans Opera and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the Dublin Grand Opera.
Mr. Nicolson has to his credit the lead roles of Don José in Carmen with the Festival Cervantino, the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional in Mexico City, and St. Petersburg Opera, Gounod’s Faust with the New Orleans Opera, Central City Opera and the Mercury Theatre in New Zealand, Des Grieux in Manon in Seoul, Korea and Rodolfo in La Bohème in Tampa and Dallas. He also sang Alfredo in La Traviata with Opera Omaha where he returned to sing the arduously difficult role of Pirro in the American stage premiere of Rossini’s Ermione followed by Gernando and Ubaldo in Rossini’s Armida, which he performed at the Minnesota Opera. At the Wolf Trap Opera Mr. Nicolson performed the Male Chorus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and the Prince in Prokofiev’s L’Amour des Trois Oranges and portrayed Lennie in Of Mice and Men with Opera Grand Rapids.
Mark Nicolson made his Carnegie Hall debut in Mozart's Requiem and was the tenor soloist in Verdi's Requiem with the Philharmonia Orchestra at England's prestigious Chichester Festival. He has performed with the Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Portland, Evansville and Omaha symphonies and the New Haven, Connecticut and New York Choral Societies in works including Händel's Messiah, Beethoven's 9th Symphony and Mahler's 8th Symphony.