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Jay Duane Meetze (//; born Jason Duane Meetze on August 2, 1973) is an American conductor and impresario. Since founding the Opera Company of Brooklyn in 2000, also known as OCB, he is the company's Artistic Director and Music Director. He made his professional debut in 1992 and since then has performed across the United States, Israel, Italy, Austria, England and Germany to positive review.
Early life and education
Meetze was born in Flint, Michigan, to a musical family: his father, Roger, sang and played guitar and his mother, Sandy, taught him three chords on the piano. At 9 years old, he started trumpet lessons and by the age of 11, he played for Veterans of Foreign Wars, Fraternal Order of Eagles and in churches with his father and brother. He also learned and played harpsichord, horn, organ, percussion, saxophone and voice before his graduation in 1991 from Grand Blanc High School.
In 1992, he began his career as a music director at a church in Flint. In 1993 in addition to performing in churches throughout Italy, Germany, England and Vienna, Meetze performed Tamino at The Whiting, which received full-page coverage in the The Flint Journal.
While attending Michigan State University, Meetze conducted musical theatre and oratorios, performed operas with Opera Company of Mid-Michigan, taught music with East Lansing Public Schools, played organ for churches, and coached at and performed comprimario tenor roles with Opera in the Ozarks. After Meetze obtained his Bachelor of Music in Music Education in 1995, he moved to Chicago where he continued to study conducting while teaching music.
In 1996, Meetze began studying conducting on a full scholarship with Gerhard Samuel and Peter Oundjian at College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. As a participant in NYC with the League of American Orchestras, he studied conducting with Raymond Harvey, Music Director of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. The following year Meetze assisted Giovanni Reggioli at Opera Theatre of Lucca, Italy, where he worked with Lorenzo Malfatti and Luigi Alva.
In 1998 Meetze received his Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from the College-Conservatory of Music. During that year he worked with Alessandro Siciliani in Cincinnati Opera's La Traviata starring Ainhoa Arteta and conducted the Raananá Symphonette Orchestra in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo.
Meetze moved to Manhattan in August 1998 and taught college-level music appreciation in Downtown Brooklyn. In 1998 Meetze began studying with several Metropolitan Opera conductors. He spent part of the 1998-1999 season with the Cosmopolitan Symphony Orchestra where he worked with Betty Allen. In 2000, Meetze conducted Ballad of Baby Doe in Short Hills, New Jersey. He has conducted and taught for Manhattan School of Music.
Opera Company of Brooklyn
In 2001, Meetze organized and conducted a tribute concert at Bargemusic, in memory of Brooklyn tenor Richard Tucker. The event was photographed by Bill Cunningham and included in the New York Times Sunday Styles. That year the company received $40,000 to mount Amahl and the Night Visitors at Plymouth Church (Brooklyn, New York) and Madama Butterfly at New York City College of Technology, which garnered positive reviews in Opera News and other publications. With the company struggling financially, Meetze learned quickly from his skilled board members how to reduce expenses and cut opera to the bare essentials: perform opera in modern dress, while featuring great and artistic voices, with piano, in intimate venues. Later that year, he conducted a program of famous opera excepts at Brooklyn Museum of Art: Eternal Egypt Exhibition.
In 2003, on the conductor's 30th Birthday, Meetze made international news for teaming up with Frederick Bianchi and Dr. David B. Smith in developing interactive computer music systems, opera and Virtual Orchestra technology. The production was covered world-wide, including on the front page of The Wall Street Journal and highly praised by Shirley Fleming in American Record Guide and New York Post and Joshua Rosenblum in Opera News, and Jeremy Eichler in New York Times.
In 2005, Meetze established BYOB Opera in homes and penthouses throughout the NY Tristate area. This programming provided a new way for opera newbies and long-time lovers to experience opera and helped artists prepare roles before singing them at major houses. The news received front-page coverage in Crain Communications Inc and OCB's season was announced for free throughout NYC elevators via Captivate Network. Living Room Opera,
From 2005-2008, Meetze prepared and conducted miniature versions of operas for public school children with OCB and Midori and Friends.
Meetze continues to take opera to younger audiences and helps artists by giving them their NYC debut. With OCB, he conducts operas with Barnard-Columbia Chamber Choir, a partnership between Barnard College and Columbia University.
After hearing some of his operas conducted by Meetze, Thomas Pasatieri expressed interest to have Meetze conduct and record a chamber orchestra on Albany Records in his newly re-written/chamber version of 'La Divina', his new duet entitled 'Divas of a Certain Age' and his most famous opera, Signor Deluso. Pasatieri is also well known for his Hollywood film orchestrations: "Finding Nemo", Road to Perdition, American Beauty, The Little Mermaid, The Shawshank Redemption, Fried Green Tomatoes, Legends of the Fall, Thomas Newman's Angels in America and Scent of a Woman, among many others.
The compact disc features San Francisco Opera Center’s Director Sheri Greenawald, Manhattan School of Music's Ashley Putnam and several young artists selected by Meetze and Pasatieri. Pasatieri plays piano on 'Divas of a Certain Age and William Hicks plays piano in both operas.
- 'Move Over, Zeffirelli: A New Opera Company Thinks Small'
- Front-page story: 'Behind Surging Productivity: The Service Sector Delivers Firms Once Thought Immune To Boosting Worker Output Are Now Big Part of Trend More Mozart For Less'
- [The Virtual Orchestra. Technology: here to stay?, American Record Guide, November/December 2003, p.9]
- [New York Post, Tuesday, August 12, 2003, p. 36,
- Front page, 'Puccini, but without all the frills - Offbeat opera troupe builds audiences; living room shows, rock-bottom prices'
- Ashley Milne-Tyte
- Full-page review of OCB/Albany Records' CD
3. ^ Classical Singer Magazine, 'Opera Company of Brooklyn’s Founder Brings Opera to 21st Century Audiences', Julie S. Halpern
15. ^ The Wall Street Journal, Front-page story: 'Behind Surging Productivity: The Service Sector Delivers Firms Once Thought Immune To Boosting Worker Output Are Now Big Part of Trend More Mozart For Less', Jon E. Hilsenrath