KKN Projects

C U R R E N T     P R O J E C T S

The American Friends of the Donizetti Opera Festival ♫

The launch of The American Friends of the Donizetti Opera Festival was formally announced on 16 November 2019.

Dedicated to fostering increased awareness and appreciation of the music of bel canto master Gaetano Donizetti, the AFDOF work in partnership with the Donizetti Opera Festival in the composer's native city, Bergamo.

Featuring critically-acclaimed performances of familiar and lesser-known works, the most recent Festival ran from 12 November until 1 December 2019.

Highlights of the 2020 edition of the Donizetti Opera Festival will include performances of La fille du régiment and Marino Faliero, both of which will utilize newly-prepared critical editions sponsored by the Festival.

M  E  N  T  O  R  I  N  G

Karen has continued to deepen her commitment to ensuring the bright future of the Vocal Arts by mentoring young singers and providing a nurturing exchange of ideas as they consider important career decisions.

Katie Weiser
Soprano KATIE WEISER with composer JAKE HEGGIE and PINO
Soprano Katie Weiser with composer Jake Heggie and Pino

Soprano Katie Weiser recently relocated from Connecticut to join a postgraduate opera program at the KUG in Graz, where she has been chosen to sing the Governess in Britten's The Turn of the Screw, Lucy in Menotti's The Telephone, and Norina in Donizetti's Don Pasquale. From the moment that they met, Karen knew that there was something special about Katie: her enthusiasm and love for the lyric art, as well as her unflagging dedication to refining her technique and her joy in singing, marked her as a young lady on the brink of an important career. She is a fellow Smith College graduate, which is how she came to Karen’s attention, and pursued a Master’s of Voice degree at Syracuse University. Karen was instrumental in arranging for Katie to spend the summer of 2015 at Ezio Pinza Council for American Singers of Opera (EPCASO) in Oderzo, Italy, where she enjoyed opportunities to study closely with Claudia Pinza and Vivica Genaux. She will soon further her studies with Ms. Genaux in Vienna, and they joined forces for a delightful concert benefiting Lions Club International, A Night on Broadway, in March 2016.

For more information about this gifted young artist, please visit Katie's website.

C  O  N  S  U  L  T  I  N  G

In addition to mentoring young singers, Karen shares her expertise and passion for the Performing Arts by serving in an advisory capacity for several enterprising initiatives.

 Imagine a World - Music for Humanity 

Dallas Street Choir and Credo Embark on Historic East Coast Tour with Frederica von StadeHarolyn BlackwellJake Heggie, and Stephen Schwartz

The Dallas Street Choir joined Credo Community Choir with conductor Dr. Jonathan Palant on an historic eight-day East Coast tour with performances in Carnegie Hall and the Washington National Cathedral.

The two choirs performed at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, at 8:00 PM. According to Carnegie Hall archivist Gino Francesconi, never before in its 126-year history had a musical ensemble comprised solely of those experiencing homelessness appeared at Carnegie Hall.

Guest soloists for the performance included longtime Dallas Street Choir friend and collaborator, world-renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, soprano Harolyn Blackwell, composer and pianist Jake Heggie, and composer of Broadway hit musicals WickedGodspell, and Pippin Stephen Schwartz.

To commemorate the occasion, Ms. von Stade and the combined choirs premiered Jake Heggie's new setting of "Spinning Song" by American composer Hub Miller. Mr. Heggie, who dedicated this work to the Dallas Street Choir, accompanied from the piano. Legendary Broadway composer Mr. Schwartz performed music from Wicked. Rounding out the evening was music of hope and inspiration mixed with personal stories of strength and courage.

The Dallas Street Choir was proud to work with Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute to support New York City's homeless community in this endeavor by welcoming to the stage the choir from Valley Lodge, a New York City transitional shelter and one of twenty-four buildings owned and operated by The West Side Foundation for Senior and Supportive Housing, Inc. In addition, 300 tickets to this concert were donated to the New York City Department of Homeless Services so that New York's homeless community could attend free of charge. Valley Lodge and the NYC Department of Homeless Services have been valued partners to Carnegie Hall through WMI's Musical Connections program.

All proceeds benefited organizations that support the alleviation and elimination of homelessness.


On June 15, 2017, at 7:30 PM, the Dallas Street Choir and Credo combined for an evening of sacred music at the Washington National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC). Concert repertoire included music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Mack Wilberg, Ola Gjeilo, and Elaine Hagenberg. World-renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade joined this performance, signing music by Georg Friedrich Händel, Francis Poulenc, and Franz Schubert. This concert was free and open to the public.


Dr. Jonathan Palant, founder and director of both Credo and the Dallas Street Choir, says, "Credo performed with the Dallas Street Choir when they made their debut early in 2015, and we are thrilled to once again share the stage with them this June; and in such grand fashion! Members of the Dallas Street Choir who desired to travel completed an extensive application process. The twenty-two singers who will join the nearly eighty-five from Credo are a shining example of the choir's mantra, 'Homeless, Not Voiceless.'"

The Dallas Street Choir, a recognized 501(c)(3) organization, was established in October 2014 by conductor Dr. Jonathan Palant. To date, over 1,100 individuals have attended at least one of the choir's weekly rehearsals, amassing more than 8,000 hours of cultural enrichment. In addition to presenting concerts at The Stewpot and Encore Park, the newly-built amphitheater adjacent to The Stewpot, the Dallas Street Choir has performed at the Winspear Opera House, the Dallas City Performance Hall, the George W. Bush Presidential Library, and at both public and private schools throughout Dallas. Members have performed alongside opera stars Frederica von Stade and Joyce DiDonato, and composer Jake Heggie and in November 2015 welcomed former First Lady Laura Busch and Mr. and Mrs. Ross Perot to share the stage. For more information, visit Dallas Street Choir's website.

Taking its name from the Latin word meaning 'I believe,' Credo is a hundred-singer mixed chorus based in Dallas, Texas. Founded and conducted by Dr. Jonathan Palant, Credo's mission is rooted not only in the power of music but also in community, learning, equality, and in sharing one's fortunes with those less fortunate. Credo, now in its fifth season, has performed throughout Dallas and has undertaken concert tours to Australia, Cuba, Iceland, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. For more information, visit Credo's website.

'Character is not found in putting others down: it is found in raising others up.' - President Barack Obama, speaking in Dallas on July 12, 2016

Ars Minerva
Graphic © by Ars Minerva; used with permission

Karen is particularly excited by her work with San Francisco-based Ars Minerva, on whose Advisory Board she serves alongside Vivica Genaux, Frederica von Stade, Verena Dobnik, and other eminent members of the Arts community and subject matter experts.

Founded by coloratura mezzo-soprano Céline Ricci with the aim of rediscovering overlooked musical treasures of the Venetian Carnevale season, Ars Minerva presented its first operatic production in March 2015, Daniele da Castrovillari’s 1662 La Cleopatra.

Furthering the critical acclaim the company garnered for La Cleopatra, Ars Minerva's 2016 production was the 21st-Century première of Carlo Pallavicino’s Le amazzoni nelle isole fortunate, first performed for Carnevale at the Teatro Contarini delle Vergini in 1679. Now forgotten, Pallavicino composed more than twenty operas during his tenures in two of Seventeenth-Century Europe’s most important operatic centers, Venice and Dresden. Resplendently premièred before a specially-invited audience of aristocrats and dignitaries, Le amazzoni reveals Pallavicino’s inventive melodic writing and innovative use of da capo arias. Performances were staged in San Francisco’s Marines’ Memorial Theater on 21 and 22 May 2016. Reviewing the production for San Francisco Classical Voice, Charlise Tiee wrote that 'Ricci is consistent in her approach [to staging Le amazzoni], and it works without being overdone or busy.'

Céline Ricci recently commented, 'I feel more than fortunate [to have] Karen on the Advisory Board of Ars Minerva. Her knowledge, expertise, support, and friendship are very important and extremely dear to me. She is such a positive and dynamic person: everything around her is illuminated [by] her youthful and innovative ideas. Karen's loving kindness, experience, and absolute professionalism are treasures, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have her on board [with] Ars Minerva!'

It was announced in Autumn 2016 that Ars Minerva's third production, which enticed listeners in San Francisco's Marines' Memorial Theatre in September 2017, was Pietro Andrea Ziani's 1665 opera La Circe.

On 26 March 2017, Ars Minerva presented the company's first Salon, Magic Spells and Enchantresses, offering Bay Area patrons enticing glimpses of the mesmerizing operatic worlds of legendary sorceresses Armida, Circe, and Medea with music performed by Céline Ricci and harpsichordist Derek Tam.

Ars Minerva's 2018 production revived Giovanni Porta's 1738 opera Ifigenia in Aulide, presented first in an abridged concert version in a new-to-Ars-Minerva venue, Berkeley's First Congregational Church, on 9 November 2018, and then in semi-staged performances in San Francisco's ODC Theater on 30 November and 1 December.

In November 2019, Ars Minerva staged Domenico Freschi's opera Ermelinda, completed in 1680 and not performed since the Seventeenth Century. Performances were on 22, 23, and 24 November 2019, in ODC Theater.

Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ars Minerva's 2020 production of Carlo Pallavicino's Messalina has been postponed until 2021.

To learn more about Ars Minerva’s work, please visit the company’s website.

Karen with coloratura mezzo-soprano Céline Ricci following the première of Ars Minerva's production of Daniele da Castrovillari's La Cleopatra in San Francisco, March 2015

Carin Gilfry

American mezzo-soprano Carin Gilfry is an exciting and versatile performer. In addition to her work in opera, she is a successful voice actor and the creator and host of the children’s web series Rosie’s Place, for which Karen has served in an advisory capacity since its inception, providing press advice and support. The acclaimed Rosie’s Place is a program which brings stories written by children to life.

Carin continues to pursue an active performing career in opera. As a voice actor, she has appeared in commercials for Zulily.com, Busbud, Liberty University, and Halekulani Resorts. She is the voice of Cephalon Vol in the video game Warframe and the voices of Nasira and Talenta in Heroes Charge. She has narrated more than seventy books, including the Fabled Forest Series by Trisha Sugarek, River’s Edge by Erin Keyser Horn, An Avalon Christmas by Darien Gee, and Sweet Life by Mia King. Carin is the German voice of P&O Ferries in the United Kingdom.

To learn more about Carin, please visit her website, and visit the show’s website to enter the world of Rosie’s Place.

… and …

Karen looks forward to sharing further information
about these and additional projects in the near future!

[Revised 7 September 2020]