October 25, 2019
Bree Nichols, soprano
Kimberly Watson, soprano
with Imre Pátkai, piano
Bree Nichols is an operatic soprano known for her warm timbre and compelling stage presence. She is currently working toward the Doctor of Music Arts degree at the University of North Texas, where the Divison of Vocal Studies appointed her as a Teaching Fellow in voice. Her career has taken her to the stages of Symphony of the Mountains, Capitol City Opera, Opera Roanoke, Opera on the James, Opera Experience Southeast, Appalachian Opera Theatre, and more. In the summer of 2019, she returned to the Czech Republic to perform in the modern premiere of two operas (Fortuna in Le veglie ossequiose and Witz/Fama/Juno in Die sieben Alter stimmen zusammen) by J. H. Schmelzer as a part of the Olomouc Baroque Festival. This followed her 2018 performance there of Pergolesi’sStabat Mater with the Ensemble Damian. Her time in the Czech Republic ignited a love for Czech opera and art song that inspired her 2019 recital, Songs of Czechia, which featured Dvořák’s Gypsy Songs and revived a rare aria from Karel Bendl’s grand opera Lejla.
Bree recently debuted as Gilda in Rigoletto with Capitol City Opera and toured the State of Texas as the Fox in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen with UNT Opera. Other recent performances include Melani’s cantata Quai bellici accenti (with UNT faculty Adam Gordon, baroque trumpet, and Bradley Bennight, harpsichord),Mařenka in The Bartered Bride, Béatrice in Roussel’s Le testament de la tante Caroline, Nedda in Pagliacci, Jennie in Kurt Weill’s Down in the Valley, and Valencienne in The Merry Widow.
Bree Nichols is an innovator in community opera advocacy, where her performance expertise informs her leadership in shaping the next generation of musicians. She is founder of Stafford Opera Troupe in Stafford, Virginia, where she created the tuition-free Summer Opera Program offering opera training and performance opportunities to high school and young collegiate singers. Bree earned her Master of Music degree from University of Georgia and her Bachelor of Music from Liberty University, whose School of Music noted her as an outstanding alumna in 2018(Liberty News). She currently calls Texas home, where she and her husband, tenor Jason Nichols, find opportunities for numerous artistic collaborations. She studies with Carol Wilson at the University of North Texas College of Music.
Soprano Kimberly Watson’s impressive versatility in a broad range of repertoire is evidenced in performances throughout the DFW area, at East Carolina University, with the Pittsburgh Children’s Mendelssohn Concert Series, and as soloist in a tour throughout the Basque region of northern Spain. In a performance of Bach’s St. John Passion with the UNT Collegium Singers, the Dallas Morning News praised her voice as “stylishly suited to Bach and Handel”. Theater Jones described her “lovely” soprano in her appearance as soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Fort Worth Symphony in December 2018. In summer 2019 she performed at the prestigious Boston Early Music Festival.
In 2018 Kimberly made her Meyerson Symphony Hall debut singing the Flower Duet from Lakmé, and in 2017 she debuted Manuelita in Offenbach’s Pépito at the Winspear Opera House. She has an extensive list of opera roles including Abigail Borden in Beeson’s Lizzie Borden, Kathleen in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Riders to the Sea, the Woman in Ned Rorem’s Four Dialogues, and IIia in Mozart’s Idomeneo. With UNT Opera, Kimberly has debuted Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Mrs. Nordstrom in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, Constance in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, Rose in Kurt Weil’s Street Scene, Angel More in Virgil Thomson’s Mother of Us All, and Valletto in L'incoronazione di Poppea. The recipient of the Donizetti award from the Orpheus Vocal Competition, Kimberly is in her third year of the DMA degree program at UNT. She was appointed to the position of teaching fellow by the division of vocal studies, and was recently awarded a travel grant as a result of her individual contributions to the College of Music at UNT. She is honored to have worked with voice professors Dr. Jami Rhodes, Professor William Joyner, and is currently studying with Dr. Carol Wilson.
Born in Budapest in 1973, Imre Pátkai took his first piano lesson at the age of 6. Three years later he continued at Kispest Music School under the direction of Ms. Ilona Erdélyi. In 1985 he was accepted to study at the Preparatory School of the Franz Liszt Music Academy (Budapest) in the class of Ms. Zsuzsa Esztó. By that time he had performed in several cities in Hungary and abroad. In 1989 he was invited to the United States to attend the “Young Artist Piano Program” at Tanglewood Music Center (Lenox, MA), in which he participated for three summers.
From 1991 he studied at the Franz Liszt Music Academy as a student of Prof. László Baranyay and Prof. Jenő Jandó. In 1993 he won the second prize at the Hungarian State Orchestra Mozart Piano Competition. Mr. Pátkai was a participant in Prof. György Sebők’s masterclass (Ernen, Switzerland) in 1995. He earned his master of music in piano performance and teaching with honors in November 1996. From 2010 he studied with Dr. Pamela Mia Paul at the University of North Texas where he earned his doctor of musical arts (DMA) degree in 2014.
Mr. Pátkai has given concerts with several Hungarian orchestras, such as BM Danube Symphony Orchestra, Savaria Symphony Orchestra and the Hungarian State Orchestra. He made the Hungarian premiere of Charles V. Alkan: Grande Sonate (Op. 33) in 2000. Mr. Pátkai has been a guest artist in the concert halls of Vienna, Göttingen, Jena, Helsinki, London, New York, Boston and Dallas. He regularly performs solo repertoire, and he is a sought-after collaborative pianist as well.
Besides his teaching fellowship at UNT Mr. Pátkai's teaching experiences include faculty positions in the music department of ELTE University (Budapest) and at the Teacher Training College of the Franz Liszt Music Academy (Budapest).