Between now and the opera’s premiere, we will be sharing videos of select scenes, to help you get better acquainted with the work. Our first preview is of Act I Scene 2, “The Rain Chorus,” in which the Spirits guide the visionary Diskana to the home of Freyaria and Sashatya, the mother and child in her opening scene vision. This recording was made at the 2019 June in Buffalo festival, and features many members of the premiere cast, including Claudia Brown as Freyaria; and Jessie Downs, Mariami Bekauri, Julia Anne Cordani, and Suzanne Fatta as Spirits. Conductor Matthew Chamberlain, as well as many ensemble members (Michael Matsuo, flute; Michael Tumiel, clarinet; Jade Conlee, piano; Rosanna Moore, piano; and Katie Weissman, cello) will also be involved in the premiere. Stay tuned for new previews of the premiere cast in the months ahead!

NEW – Second Sight Donor Give-Backs!

For the rescheduled premiere of The Second Sight, we are creating special give-back gifts to thank you for your donations.

This week’s GIVE-BACK SPOTLIGHT: When you donate $50 to The Second Sight today, you will receive a unique page from the score of The Second Sight with a note from the composer. Put it with your keepsakes from other events, or hang it as a unique piece of personalized wall art.

The production still needs your help! Consider donating today either online or via mail, by making a check out to Art Services Initiative (ASI) of Western NY, writing “for Sotto Voce Vocal Collective” in the MEMO section, and sending it to the following address:

ASI2495 Main St, Suite 422Buffalo, NY 14214

We appreciate all your support!

The Second Sight – coming soon!

We are now just under 5 months away from the premiere of Jessie Downs’s new opera The Second Sight – YES, IT IS ON! Please consider buying your tickets today.

You can also donate to the project and receive one of our fabulous give-backs: music and artwork that will be sent to your home and allow you to hold a bit of the show in your hands before it even premieres!

We are currently finalizing our cast and ensemble and are thrilled to introduce internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo as the titular “second-seer,” Diskana. She will be joined by a fantastic and diverse group of local stars including Claudia Brown, Mariami Bekauri, Julia Anne Cordani, Suzanne Fatta, Brandon Mecklenburg, and myself. Please help support your local arts organizations Sotto Voce Vocal Collective and NICKEL CITY OPERA so that we, our local artists, and our special guest stars can bring you a healing performance for our times.

You can now also watch a video overview of the opera by the composer herself, in which she talks about the intersection of story-telling and vocal-writing in the work. There are also musical examples in the background that give a good overview of the arc of the piece! We hope you will join us to hear and see the full production this June!

June 2020 Preview of The Second Sight

It is now June, and the Sotto Voce team was originally planning to begin preparations for the premiere of The Second Sight at this time, but due to the COVID-19 postponement to June 26th and 27th 2021, we have decided to bring you a preview video instead! This teaser features a short musical clip from the opera – Act III Scene 1 “The Mourners’ Chorus” – and home-made visuals capturing aspects of the opera’s story and mood. Our Artistic Director and the opera’s composer Jessie Downs will be releasing more videos like this one on her Youtube page between now and next June, as well as videos of her classical performances with accompanying vlogs about the connections between her practice as a classical performer and new music composer. We can’t wait to share live music with you again, but in the meantime, stay tuned for these exciting sneak-peaks!



NEW DATES: June 26th and 27th, 2021

Due to the current health crisis, Sotto Voce and Nickel City Opera’s production of Jessie Downs’s new opera “The Second Sight” will be postponed to June 26th and 27th 2021, a year after initially planned. While we are sorry that we will not be able to share this new work with our audiences this summer, we believe that this extended incubation period will result in an even more special end result.

If you have bought tickets to the previously scheduled 2020 production, these will still be good for June 2021. If you would like your ticket refunded, or if you would like to donate your ticket purchase (if you know you can not make the 2021 show), please contact us at We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, and hope to see you next summer!

Sotto Voce to perform at 2019 June in Buffalo Festival

Sotto Voce is excited to announce that 4 weeks from today – on Tuesday June 4th at 4:30pm in Lippes Concert Hall (on the University at Buffalo North Campus) – we will be performing Act I, Scene 2 from the opera-in-progress The Second Sight by Jessie Downs at the 2019 June in Buffalo Festival.


Act I, Scene 2 – otherwise known as “The Rain Scene” – prominently features the Sotto Voce Vocal Collective as rain spirits that call the rain and set the wheels of fate in motion. For this performance, Sotto Voce is the composer and our Artistic Director Jessie Downs (soprano), Mariami Bekauri (alto), and Blake Hurlburt (baritone) as the ‘Color Trio’ and Julia Anne Cordani (soprano), Suzanne Fatta (alto), and William Zino (baritone) as the ‘Base Trio.’ We are also lucky to have conductor Daniel Bassin helping to rehearse the group in preparation for the performance.

The scene also includes the entrance of the character Freyaria – a mother, an optimist – played by Claudia Brown, and the first meeting of Freyaria and Diskana – a young woman with the gift of the second sight, who was introduced in Scene 1 (watch last year’s BMP performance HERE) – played by Tiffany DuMouchelle.

Additionally, this will be the first time that an excerpt from the opera will be performed with its full accompaniment: a small 10-instrument sinfonietta. The ensemble will consist of piccolo (Michael Matsuno), English horn (Megan Kyle), clarinet (Michael Tumiel), French horn (Sara Petokas), percussion (Tomek Arnold), harp (Rosanna Moore), piano (Jade Conlee), violin (Hanna Hurwitz), violoncello (Katie Weissman), and contrabass (Megan McDevitt). Maestro Matthew Chamberlain will conduct and help with final stages of preperation.

We are excited to be involved in this wonderful festival and performing alongside many other wonderful musicians. We hope you can make it out to hear us if you’re in the area!

Voces featured at MuGSA Conference

photo courtesy Su Lee

This past Saturday March 30th at 7pm in Baird Recital Hall on the University at Buffalo’s North Campus, Voces Jessie Downs and Julia Anne Cordani performed an excerpt of Alex Huddleston‘s “The Sonnets”at the 2019 Buffalo Music Graduate Student Conference. “The Sonnets” was one of  Sotto Voce’s first commissioned work from our Spring 2018 season.

The duet that Jessie and Julia presented features intense registral leaps and undulating harmonies from this dramatic work’s grand finale, set to the fragmented text, “What was I looking at, not to see the wetness spread?” and the exclamation, “Water!” As many of Huddleston’s works, this piece seems to capture of the intensely disturbing beauty of the suffering split self. The full work consists of several “movements” like this one, that overlap and juxtapose different materials as performed by subsets of the full vocal sextet, as well as a noisy fixed electronics part. You can hear the full version of “The Sonnets” as we performed it in Cleveland last summer on our “Living Voices” tour through the link below.

Although the Voces do not have a spring concert planned as per usual, we are in the process of workshopping exciting materials for both a new opera and a new mass by current and former Voce composers. Further details about these upcoming presentations will be released shortly, so stay tuned!

Our Fall 2018 Concert Program Announced!

facebook event photo 3.jpgWe are thrilled to announce our Fall 2018 Program:

Science and Spirit
– Janet Oates – Atomic Choruses (2014, rev. 2017)
– Gabrielle Cerberville – Phases + Particle (2016 + 2018)
– Elizabeth Baker – @quantumloop_#love (2018 – SVVC COMMISSION, W. P.)
– Amanda Feery – Squarpushers (2012)
– Eva Maria Houben – Psalm 117 (2008 – W. P.)
– Igor Coehlo A. S. Marques – Ave Virgo (2018 -SVVC COMMISSION, W. P.)
– Gabrielle Cerberville – Ubi Caritas (2014)

We have commissioned two new works, one from Elizabeth A. Baker, who will be traveling from Florida to join us in the concert, and from Igor Coehlo A. S. Marques, a Buffalo resident and composer at UB.

You can purchase tickets in advance here.

Join us at the UUCB, the corner of Ferry and Elmwood on November 17, 2018 5:00 PM!