Sotto Voce is BACK!

Dear Sotto Voce fans,

It’s been a while, but Sotto Voce is coming back to Buffalo THIS FALL! Founder Jessie Downs, founding member Julia Anne Cordani, and former Managing Director Alex Huddleston are teaming up to relaunch Sotto Voce with a twist – we will now be focusing primarily on producing operas, venturing into *reimagined* canonical repertoire, and incorporating both staged and filmed elements into our shows.

Sound interesting? Stay tuned to this website and our socials for more information about our relaunch extravaganza event THIS OCTOBER and the shows will be featuring in our 2023-24 season.

“Thank you!!!” for a successful opera premiere!

FROM TOP LEFT: Claudia Brown (Freyaria), Jessie Downs (composer, here as Queen Spirit [also Sashatya/ Luciana]), Ola Rafalo (Diskana), Beth White (Water Spirit), John Clayton (Frog Spirit), Stephen Walley (Wind Spirit), Brandon Mecklenburg (Light Spirit), Julia Anne Cordani (Bird Spirit)

The Second Sight, a new opera by Jessie Downs was premiered by Sotto Voce on June 26th and 27th in Buffalo, NY. While we hope this premiere is the first of many performances for this exciting and complex new work, we are also so grateful for everyone who made this first presentation a success. Thank you to our amazing team of artists, production staff and volunteers, donors, and audience members. We couldn’t do any of this without you.

If you missed the live shows, also note that we will be streaming the recording until August 3rd. You can purchase access HERE, and please do not hesitate to contact us for technical support!

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Stephen Walley, John Clayton, and Brandon Mecklenburg

This week we are thrilled to introduce the other half of the Spirit sextet – baritones Stephen Walley and Brandon Mecklenburg as the Wind and Light Spirits, joined by tenor John Clayton who will be taking over the role of the Frog Spirit, originally written for contralto Suzanne Fatta. Wind, Light, and Frog will be joining Jessie Downs as Queen Spirit, Beth White as Water Spirit, and Julia Anne Cordani as Bird Spirit in the premiere of The Second Sight – a new opera. You can read more about all our cast members on our Members page. Remember to get your tickets to see and hear all of our fabulous cast first hand!

Jessie Downs on the cover of Delaware Park Living

Sotto Voce’s Artistic Director and composer of The Second Sight is featured in this month’s issue of Delaware Park Living, a magazine that gets distributed to homes and businesses in Buffalo’s Parkside neighborhood.

Jessie did a photoshoot at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo for the issue, showing off the beautiful architecture of this historic building where the opera will be premiered. The spread highlights action shots of singing, movement, and instrument demonstrations from the opera. Jessie’s partner, fellow composer, and Managing Director of Sotto Voce Alex Huddleston joined her at the piano, and former Second Sight cast member, model, and Managing Director of Nickel City Opera Suzanne Fatta provided style advice and joined in on some Spirit movements and vocalizations.

SCENE PREVIEW #4: “My Life is Simple”

We are now less than a month away from the start of production for The Second Sight and our cast and production team are hard at work preparing for the show. This week’s scene preview is of our premiere Freyaria, Claudia Brown, working on her opening arietta, “My Life is Simple.” We hope you enjoy a sneak-peak of this sprightly number, recorded in our performance space, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo!

OperaBuffs Announces “The Second Sight” Lecture-Recital – June 12th at Tacoma Performing Arts Center

We are excited to announce a lecture-recital hosted by OperaBuffs “Inside Opera” Lecture Series, featuring composer-performer Jessie Downs, with performances from and discussions about the connections between her new opera and the operatic canon.

The lecture-recital will be held on June 12 from 10:30a.m. to 12p.m. at Tacoma Performing Arts Center, 351 Tacoma Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14216 and is FREE of charge. There is free parking in the venue lot. The event is mobility-challenged accessible and open to the public. All are welcome.

Dr. Downs will be joined by pianist Jonathon Vogtle and members of the cast of The Second Sight – Claudia Brown (Freyaria) and Beth White (Water Spirit). The trio will perform works by Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, and Downs. The composer will talk about themes such as “reclaiming the mad scene,” “innocence and womanhood,” and “loss and faith” that run through both traditional opera and her new work.

Tickets for the opera premiere will be available for purchase, and donations to the production will be very gratefully accepted. We hope to see you there!


This week we introduce soprano Claudia Brown, who will be premiering the role of Freyaria, the empath mother, in The Second Sight this June. Claudia became Clinical Assistant Professor of Voice and Choral Music at UB 4 years ago and has done amazing things with the program. Having done her Masters of Music in Choral Studies at Cambridge in the UK, she has a masterful grasp of how to both perform and teach in the choral discipline. She is also a trained and experienced performer of opera and oratorio, with a clear, lithe, and shimmering sound. Both her sound and her outgoing and friendly demeanor make her a perfect fit for bringing to life the caring and optimistic Freyaria, whose playful coloratura brightens the world of the opera. Claudia sings with a number of Buffalo choirs. In this recent recording made by the BPO and Westminster Presbyterian of Handel’s Messiah, you can watch Claudia performing “If God Be For Us, Who Can Be Against Us”. Check it out, and remember to get your tickets to see Claudia – along with Ola Rafalo, Jessie Downs, and the Spirits of Sotto Voce – this June!

You can also read more about Claudia on our MEMBERS page.