Western alumni featured at New Haven opera festival debut
Six WCSU music program graduates earn places on Opera Palooza stage

DANBURY, CONN. — Six graduates of the Western Connecticut State University music program competed successfully to earn featured roles this summer singing classic arias at the inaugural Opera Palooza festival on the New Haven Green.

The debut of the festival, presented on Aug. 20, 2016, as a celebration of New Haven’s Italian immigrant and cultural heritage, included performances of aria favorites by 10 emerging young singers and natives of Connecticut who earned places in the Opera Palooza program based on competitive judging of audition recording submissions.

Featured WCSU alumni, their native hometowns and the year when they received the Bachelor of Music in Performance included: Jennifer Caraluzzi, of Bethel, 2009; Karolina Wojteczko, of Derby, 2010; Benedetta Cordaro, of Stamford, 2014; Erick Sanchez, of Stamford, 2014; Steve Valenzuela, of Waterbury, 2016; and Charles Widmer, of Oxford, 2016.

Current WCSU music student Edwin Rodriguez, of New Haven, also sang “The Star Spangled Banner” to open the Opera Palooza program. Internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, who has performed leading roles in “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Der Rosenkavalier” at the Metropolitan Opera, served as host for the festival program. Musicians from symphonies across the region formed a 30-member orchestra to provide accompaniment for the aria performances.



Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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