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November 14, 2019

Meet the Stars of Handel’s Messiah


The University Musical Society’s annual holiday presentation of Handel’s Messiah has been a beloved tradition in Hill Auditorium since UMS’s founding in 1879. The oratorio always brings noteworthy guest artists to Ann Arbor, and this year’s roster includes the exciting debuts of four stellar singers. Meet our soloists before their upcoming performances of Messiah on December 7-8.

Info & Tickets

Jeanine De BiqueJeanine De Bique, soprano

Hailing from Trinidad, Jeanine De Bique has dominated the recent opera and oratorio scene in Europe. She has been featured at houses ranging from the Dutch National Opera to Vienna Statsoper. Ms. Jeanine’s jaw-dropping colortura and jovial personality earned her a whopping 2.1 million views on a Facebook video from a recent Messiah rehearsal posted by Opera News. This season will see some important house debuts at the San Francisco Opera, and Deutsche Oper Berlin.

A recipient of the Youth Ambassador for Peace, De Bique’s career “reflects her commitment to inclusion for justice for those who are disadvantaged.” She frequently holds recitals to benefit children with disabilities, as well as musical outreach to help introduce them to classical music, opera, and music from her own culture.

Check out Ms. De Bique’s rendition of “Rejoice Greatly” from Handel’s Messiah. Here she performs at BBC Proms with the Chineke! Orchestra, who will also be joining UMS later this season:


Allegra De VitaAllegra De Vita, mezzo-soprano

A recent graduate of the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, Allegra De Vita returns to WNO this season, making her principal artist debut as Siebel in Gounod’s Faust. Her talents earned her a spot in the 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition Grand Finals.

Before heading down the performance route, De Vita earned her Bachelor’s degree in biology and neuroscience, stating in a recent interview that she would probably have done work regarding the science of addiction. After making the decision to pursue opera, she studied with Dr. Stephen King at Rice University.

This summer she returns to the Glimmerglass Festival to sing the title role in Handel’s Rinaldo. You can get a taste for her interpretation in this recording of “Tu Preparati a Morire” from the 2015 MONC Grand Finals Concert:


Taylor StaytonTaylor Stayton, tenor

Taylor Stayton continues to be one of the most sought after tenors in the bel canto repertoire. This season, he can be heard in his signature role as Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville at the Palm Beach Opera and Semperoper Dresden. In addition, he will be debuting Carmina Burana with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and returning to Des Moines Opera for a new production in Summer 2020.

Opera Today describes Mr. Stayton as, “deserving to be numbered on the short list of Rossini all-stars” following his debut with Opéra de Lille in 2012. Since then, he has performed with the Washington National Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Nashville Opera, and Opera Philadelphia.

The Ohio native graduated from the esteemed Academy of Vocal Arts in 2011, where he studied under Bill Schumann.

Take a listen to Mr. Stayton’s marvelous sound in “Oh sorte! giá veggo” from The Barber of Seville at the 2018 Glyndebourne Festival:


Philippe SlyPhilippe Sly, bass-baritone

French-Canadian bass-baritone Phillipe Sly has taken the North American concert world by storm, having been featured as a soloist with orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, and Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. His wide variety of repertoire had allowed for an extensive career in opera. Singing everything from Bach to Wagner, Sly was a grand prize winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and he can be heard this season at the Paris Opera.

Sly is also a member of the Le Chimera Project Vocal Ensemble, a diverse group of musicians who seek to “transcend the traditional concert hall performance.” 2018 marked their debut performance with an adaptation of Schubert’s Winterreise arranged for violin, accordion, trombone, and clarinet.

Check out his critically acclaimed performance of “The trumpet shall sound” from Handel’s Messiah with Trinity Wall Street Baroque Orchestra: