On Friday, October 19, 2018 at 7:30 pm, three artists from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia performed selections from the song cycle Italienisches Liederbuch (“Italian Songbook”) by the 19th-century Austrian composer Hugo Wolf.

This song cycle is a work of great drama, as a young couple rejects, and finally accepts, the many aspects of falling in love. The artists will perform the songs in dramatic dialogue, a kind of mini-opera. There is irresistible charm in this work but no happy ending, as the woman reveals that she has dozens of lovers in many cities.

The pianist was Mikael Eliasen, Chair of Vocal Studies at Curtis and Artistic Director of the Curtis Opera Theatre. Mikael was joined by two distinguished vocal students at Curtis, Ashley Marie Robillard and Dennis Chmelensky.

About the Artists

Ashley Marie Robillard

Ashley Marie Robillard

Soprano Ashley Marie Robillard is from Norton, Massachusetts. She entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2013 and studies with Julia Faulkner, adjunct voice faculty. All students at Curtis receive merit-based, full-tuition scholarships, and Ms. Robillard is the Joseph Cairns Jr. and Ernestine Bacon Cairns Memorial Fellow. 

During the 2017–18 season, Ms. Robillard performed the roles of Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Jessie in Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny, Ein Songspiel with the Curtis Opera Theatre. She was also an Emerging Artist with Opera Philadelphia and made her professional operatic debut, singing the role of Papagena in Barrie Kosky’s production of Die Zauberflöte. 
 At Curtis, Ms. Robillard has performed the roles of Musetta (La bohème), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Lucia (The Rape of Lucretia), Bianca (La Rondine), Poussette (Manon), Barbarina (Le nozze di Figaro), Tisbe (La cenerentola), Bianca (La rondine), Lucia (The Rape of Lucretia), and Bat (L’enfant et les sortilèges).

Before attending Curtis, she performed as a soloist with the New England Conservatory’s Youth Chorale and Youth Philharmonic Orchestra in Honegger’s King David. She performed in numerous recitals and operas at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, including the Fairy Godmother in Pauline Viardot’s Cendrillion, and multiple roles in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges. Ms. Robillard also participated in a production of Die Zauberflöte with the Tuscia Opera Festival/International Lyric Academy in Italy.

Dennis Chmelensky

Dennis Chmelensky

Baritone Dennis Chmelensky is from Berlin, Germany. He entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2013 and studies in the voice program with Marlena Kleinman Malas. All students at Curtis receive merit-based, full-tuition scholarships, and Mr. Chmelensky is the Guna S. Mundheim Annual Fellow.

Mr. Chmelensky has appeared as a soloist with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Staats- und Domchor Berlin, Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, Lautten Compagney Berlin, Philharmonie Südwestfalen, and the Berlin Philharmonic. His operatic roles have included Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Blansac (La scala di seta), Fyodor (Boris Godunov), Spinellocchio (Gianni Schicci), Schaunard (La bohème), First Officer (Dialogues of the Carmelites), and Paul in the world premiere of Empty the House, an opera by composer Rene Orth and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell. He has participated in the Orchestra of the University of the Arts and the State and Church Choir of Berlin, as well as the Chautauqua Institution and the Kempinski Young Artist Programme.

Mr. Chmelensky is the recipient of many awards, including scholarships from Opera Libera, Inc. and the Wagner Society. He is also the winner of the Engelbert Humperdinck Prize (2008), Grand Prix Golden Snowflake Prize (2008), the Bärenreiterpreis (2008), first prize in Germany’s Young Composer Awards, and the Europäischer Hoffnungspreis (2009). His debut album DENNIS was released by Sony in 2009.

Mr. Chmelensky began violin lessons at age five and voice and piano lessons at age seven. His former teachers include Heide Görtz, Dr. Anna Sylvan, Kai Uwe Jirka, Anne Kathrin Balo, Regina Schudel, and Sebastian Noack.

Mikael Eliasen

Mikael Eliasen

Danish-born pianist Mikael Eliasen received his early training in Copenhagen, Montreal, and Vienna. He has collaborated with numerous singers in recital worldwide, including Robert Merrill, Tom Krause, John Shirley-Quirk, Elly Ameling, Edith Mathis, Florence Quivar, Mira Zakai, Sarah Walker, Joan Patenaude-Yarnell, and Curtis alumni Theodor Uppman, Michael Schade, and Rinat Shaham.

Mr. Eliasen has given master classes at Aix-en-Provence, the Shanghai Conservatory, Tchaikovsky Conservatory (Moscow), Jerusalem Music Center, and National Opera of Prague. He has recorded for Albany Records, CBC, Hilversum Radio, Polish State Radio, Kol Israel, Irish Radio and Television, London Records, MHS, and Supraphon.

Mr. Eliasen was music director of the San Francisco Opera Center from 1994 to 1996 and artistic director of the European Center for Opera and Vocal Art in Belgium from 1984 to

  1. For twenty years he has taught at Chautauqua’s Voice Program during the summers. In 2013 he was appointed artistic adviser to Opera Philadelphia. Mr. Eliasen leads the Young Artist Voice Program as part of Curtis Summerfest 2017. Mr. Eliasen joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1986 and became the head of the department in 1988.

About Curtis

Curtis Institute

The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians to engage a local and global community through the highest level of artistry. One of the most selective schools in the United States, Curtis accepts four percent of applicants each year on average, and a tuition-free policy ensures that talent and artistic promise are the only considerations for admission.

With a small student body of about 175, Curtis ensures that each young musician receives an education of unparalleled quality, distinguished by a “learn by doing” philosophy and personalized attention from a faculty that includes a high proportion of actively performing musicians.

Curtis students hone their craft through than 200 orchestra, opera, and solo and chamber music offerings each year and programs that bring arts access and education to the community. This real-world training allows these extraordinary young musicians to join the front rank of performers, composers, conductors, and musical leaders, making a profound impact on music onstage and in their communities.

Curtis on Tour is the Nina von Maltzahn global touring initiative of the Curtis Institute of Music. An embodiment of the school’s “learn by doing” philosophy, it offers students real-world, professional touring experience alongside celebrated alumni and faculty. In addition to performances, musicians offer master classes, interactive programs, and community engagement activities while on tour.

In addition to national and international tours, Curtis on Tour manages professional performance engagements for Curtis students and recent graduates, providing emerging artists with the matchless experience of appearing with leading ensembles and presenting organizations.