Andrew M. Kurtz
General & Artistic Director
Andrew M. Kurtz is founder of the Center City Opera Theater, a professional opera company, which is now a resident company at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia. The company has performed in the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center and multiple other Philadelphia venues during its history. Kurtz has led over forty productions including multiple world and regional premieres. Productions include of Don Pasquale, Lucia di Lammermoor, L’Elisir d’amore, Eugene Onegin, Werther, Il Barbiere di siviglia, Suor Angelica, La Boheme, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, I Pagliacci, Il Trovatore, Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, Magic Flute, Hansel & Gretel, Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Of Mice & Men and Little Women, Cosi fan tutte, Amahl & the Night Visitors, Pirates of Penzance, La Traviata and Rigoletto. Maestro Kurtz received international praise and recognition for leading the world premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (chamber orchestra version). Kurtz’s conducting has been called “passionate, expansive, expert, and musical.” Kurtz’s repertoire encompasses a wide range of music styles from baroque to contemporary, and multiple genres including opera, symphonic, ballet, musical theater, jazz, cantorial, and symphonic pops.
Kurtz enters his seventeenth season as Music Director and Conductor of the Gulf Coast Symphony in Fort Myers, Florida, considered one of the country’s leading community orchestras. His creative and diverse concerts has received accolades throughout the community and for his effort Kurtz was awarded the 2007 Performing Artist of the Year at the Lee County Angel of the Arts awards ceremony. Kurtz currently serves as the Past-President of the Board of the Lee County Alliance for the Arts. A specialist in Jewish and cantorial music, Kurtz served as the Music Director of the Florida Jewish Philharmonic Orchestra and is the international tour conductor for CANTORS: A Faith In Song, featuring three of the world’s leading cantors: Alberto Mizrahi, Naftali Herstik and Benzion Miller. He was Producing Artistic Director of Synergy Productions, a professional musical theater company in Southwest Florida. Kurtz served on the Board of the Conductors Guild, and was editor of their quarterly newsletter, Podium Notes. An avid arts educator, Maestro Kurtz was Resident Music Director at the Luzerne Music Center, where he led the student orchestras and taught conducting and composition.
Kurtz was a regular guest conductor of the Charlotte Symphony. Kurtz’s previous season saw debuts with the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra and the International Master Musicians Orchestra. In 2004 Kurtz made his New York City conducting debut with the Metropolitan Repertory Ballet in a Jazz Ballet, “Sinatra & Swing” at the TRIBECA Performing Arts Center. Maestro Kurtz was music director as well as stage director for multiple performances of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; They’re Playing Our Song; Marry Me A Little and Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years with Synergy Productions. In 1995 Kurtz made his international operatic conducting debut in Tel Aviv while working as staff conductor at the Israel Vocal Arts Institute. In April 1997 he conducted the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Opera Educational tour production of The Best of Puccini. A scholarship conducting student at the prestigious Aspen Music Festival in 1997, Kurtz conducted four concerts, including a concert version of Puccini’s La Bohème. Highlights of the various conducting posts to his credit include work with the Metropolitan Opera Guild, The Pennsylvania Opera Theater, The Pennsylvania Ballet, the Ash Lawn-Highland Opera Festival and the Ocean City Pops. Kurtz completed his Doctoral studies in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia where he received his Master’s degree in Music History and a Bachelor of Arts in music and drama.
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Creative Consultant, Creative Development Projects
Albert Innaurato was born in Philadelphia and attended Central High School and the Philadelphia Musical Academy. He received his BFA from California Institute of the Arts where he studied music and theater and then received an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. As a playwright he received the Guggenheim Grant, the Rockefeller Grant and three National Endowment of the Arts Grants. Two of his plays, The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie and Gemini opened off-Broadway the same week, winning Innaurato acclaim and two Obies. Gemini moved to Broadway where it became one of the longest running non-musical plays in Broadway history (1819 performances). His play Passione also played on Broadway where it was directed by Frank Langella and starred Jerry Stiller. He has worked for TV, winning an Emmy for Verna the USO Girl, which starred Sissy Spacek and Bill Hurt. In the 1990’s, also he wrote for Molly Dodd and contributed many half hours to a more adventurous PBS, including a controversial and highly praised comedy called Death and Taxes, starring Sally Kellerman. Innaurato has had a second career as an arts journalist, with articles appearing in Opera News,The New York Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, New York, Gramophone, BBC Music and Opernwelt. He has written and narrated, as well as playing the piano, on 17 CDs/cassettes from the Metropolitan Opera Guild. He appeared often on the Metropolitan Opera Broadcast Intermission feature as a member of the popular Opera Quiz. He taught playwriting at Columbia University, Princeton, Yale and Rutgers. In 2005 he returned to Philadelphia at the invitation of Marjorie Samoff to be in residence at the Prince Music Theater. While there, he functioned as writer, co-producer and developer of projects given at the theater. These include a musical-theater piece based on Einstein’s Dreams (in collaboration with the acclaimed directer, Whit MacLaughlin, produced at CUNY, NY, and other theaters), a musical based on his play, Gemini, directed by the esteemed Doug Wager, and work with gifted composers, such as Paul Scott Goodman and Zack Manna. He acted there, and also co-produced the first complete presentation of Dreamgirls since its Broadway run, working closely with the composer, Henry Krieger. He also was a co-producer of Annie Get your Gun, Bright Lights, Big City, Casino Paradise by Bill Bolcom, the book for which he had worked on when it was new, and other, newer works. With Center City Opera, Innaurato directed the world premiere of Paul’s Case by Gregory Spears in 2008/09, the American Premiere of The Shops by Edward Rushton and Dagny Gioulami, in a site specific production at the Comcast Center in 2009/10 and will direct Three Decembers by Jake Heggae in 2012, as well as non traditional productions of Don Pasquale (2011), Eugene Onegin, L’elisir d’amore (later given in the Italian Market), The Magic Flute (as Star Wars with an army of children) and familiar iterations of Aida, Rigoletto, Un ballo in maschera and Werther. He has worked on the development of new operas such as Love/Hate by Rob Bailis and Jake Perla, Slaying the Dragon with the composer, Michael Ching, and Maren of Vardo, with composer, Jeff Myers, With the young singers of the company he works on acting and interpretive technique. He and Maestro Kurtz have founded a group for the creation of new work, which will start in 2014, called The New Camerata.
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Joy Kurtz was a teacher and administrator, K-12, in Philadelphia and its suburbs for more than 32 years. As a teacher of English, communications and reading, she was involved with developing the middle school gifted curriculum for the School District of Philadelphia. She was Curriculum Consultant for In Every Way the Arts, the education program of The Pennsylvania Opera Theater. She also served on the education curriculum development committee for productions at the Annenberg Theater. As International Spontaneous Problem Captain for Odyssey of the Mind, a creative problem- solving program for students in K-college, Joy Kurtz has traveled internationally to train teachers and parents. She has also written several training videotapes for new coaches. She is responsible for coordinating the Odyssey of the Mind, World Finals Spontaneous competition each year, and was Project Director of the Microsoft Mid Tier Grant for Odyssey of the Mind. Joy was selected Pennsylvania Middle School Principal of the Year for 2003. She is Vice-President of Synergy Educational Consultants, and also serves as a consultant/staff developer for American Reading Company, and as an adjunct instructor at the University of Pennsylvania serving as a university mentor for principal intern program.
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Communications and Community Engagement Associate
Jennifer Braun serves as Artistic Administrator and Communications and Community Engagement Associate for Center City Opera Theater in addition to performing her duties as a Resident Artist for the company. Ms. Braun has worked as an instructor for Toledo Opera's Summer Camp, the University of Central Oklahoma's Community Music School, and on a joint production of Eloise for Otterbein College and Columbus School for Girls.
Ms. Braun received a Masters Degree in Voice Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Bachelors Degree from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio. Ms. Braun currently resides in Philadelphia.
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Alan E. Hicks began his operatic career as a lyric baritone singing contracts with Minnesota Opera, Virginia Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Lake George Opera, and Opera Northeast. After teaching stints at two internationally acclaimed theatre conservatories in New York City, Alan turned his attention to stage direction immediately making his mark by winning a national opera award for his first production.
He has served on the staffs of Central City Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, and Tulsa Opera, and directed shows for Palm Beach Opera, Tulsa Opera, Opera in the Ozarks, the University of Iowa, and the University of Texas at Austin. In 2013, he will serve as Assistant Director for The Turn of the Screw at New York City Opera and direct Faust at Manhattan School of Music. Alan’s book, Singer and Actor: Acting Technique and the Operatic Performer, was published in 2011 by Amadeus Press.
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Ting Ting Wong
Ting-Ting Wong is a collaborative pianist residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is currently the accompanist for Temple University Women’s Chorus and Philadelphia University Singers. Along with the resident coach position with CCOT, she serves as staff accompanist for ConcertOpera Philadelphia. Last summer, Ms. Wong was a resident artist with Opera Theater Pittsburgh and assistant music director for Hansel and Gretel with Delaware Valley Opera Company. Recently, she accompanied Falstaff for Poor Richard’s opera.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Ms. Wong holds two master degrees: one in piano performance from Carnegie Mellon University, where she also earned the Piano pedagogy certificate, and another in piano accompanying and opera coaching from Temple University. Upcoming season includes CCOT’s La Traviata and Satan’s Bride: Maren of Vardø (World Premiere), ConcertOpera Philadelphia’s Un ballo in maschera, and numerous recitals in the Philadelphia area.
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