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Release: March 17, 2000

Lyric baritone John Muriello to sing Schubert's 'Schoene Muellerin' March 30

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- John Muriello, a lyric baritone whose repertoire has extended all the way from J.S. Bach's B-minor Mass to grand opera, Broadway and Gilbert and Sullivan, will perform Franz Schubert's dramatic song cycle "Die Schoene Muellerin" (The beautiful milleress) with pianist Todd Sisley in a University of Iowa faculty recital at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 30 in Clapp Recital Hall.

Muriello's campus performances have extended as widely as his professional engagements, including serious European art songs, American pop and Broadway songs, a light-hearted one-man musical re-telling of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and the direction of musical productions for the UI School of Music. This will be his first performance on campus of music that many consider to be the touchstone for serious singers, Lieder, or German songs, by Franz Schubert.

Schubert was a prolific composer of songs, completing more than 600 of them in his brief lifetime. Many were written as single, separate pieces, lyrical settings of individual poems. Although many of these individual songs are miniature masterpieces, it is Schubert's song cycles -- groups of related songs that tell a unified, dramatic story -- that are considered the culminating works of his career.

Both of Schubert's great song cycles -- "Die Schoene Muellerin," composed in 1823, and "Die Winterreise" (The winter's journey), composed in 1827 -- use sentimental language to tell a story of unrequited love. The poetry is of modest literary quality, but its regular meter, vivid imagery and strong emotional content suited Schubert's style and inspired him deeply. Both cycles are popular with singers and audiences alike.

"Die Schoene Muellerin" is the story of a young miller's apprentice who decides to follow a brook into the valley below. Arriving at a mill he applies for work, and soon falls deeply in love with the miller's daughter. He passes a few happy days in the illusion that she loves him also, until a hunter arrives and draws the admiring attention of the miller's daughter. In complete desolation and despair, the apprentice finds the resolution to his hopeless love by drowning himself in the brook.

Muriello joined the UI School of Music faculty in the fall of 1997. His most recent engagements include performances as Captain Corcoran in "H.M.S. Pinafore" and Nathan Hershkowits in "Rags" for Seaside Music Theater. In the fall of 1998 he made his directing debut with the UI School of Music production of the musical comedy "The Fantasticks," and he directed the School of Music production of "She Loves Me" in 1999.

Muriello has performed operatic and musical theater roles with Opera Carolina, the Banff Centre in Canada, L'Opera Francais of New York, Skylight Opera Theater, Ohio Light Opera and the Southeastern Savoyards of Atlanta. He performed as the Narrator and Mysterious Man in Sondheim's "Into the Woods" and Marcello in "La Boheme" for Lyric Opera Cleveland. Other roles have ranged from Guglielmo in Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte" to Voltaire in Bernstein's "Candide."

He has also performed in concert and recital throughout the Midwest and the Southeast, singing in performances of Vaughan Williams' "Five Mystical Songs" and "Hodie," the Brahms "Requiem" and the Bach Mass in B minor.

He was a winner in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in North Carolina, in the Washington International Competition and the Louise D. McMahon International Song Competition in Oklahoma, and toured two seasons with the Mantovani Orchestra.

Todd Sisley's musical experience has included collaborations with a wide variety of artists, including saxophonist Harry Kinross White, cellist Carlos Prieto, the Chester String Quartet, the New York Chamber Ensemble, American Chamber Opera, Circle Repertory Theatre, the Boston Viol Consort and the Lake George Opera Festival. He was a musical partner to actress Jean Stapelton in the New York premiere of Lee Hoiby's "The Italian Lesson" and "Bon Appetit!" and was chosen by the composer as musical director of the premiere of his one-act opera, 'This is the Rill Speaking."

Sisley has performed at the Brisbane (Australia) Biennial of Music, and in recital halls in Amsterdam, Hannover, Heidelberg, London, San Francisco and Boston, and in Alice Tully Hall and Town Hall in New York. The recipient of two fellowships to attend the Tanglewood Music Center and a master's degree in accompanying and chamber music from the University of Michigan, he is active as a collaborative pianist in the New York metropolitan area.

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(NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Die Schoene Muellerin is pronounced approximately: dee SHOOR-neh MUE-leh-reen.)