Board of Directors
Nathan R. Matthews, Artistic Director
James Kardon, Managing Director
Carol Y. Kendrick, Treasurer
About The Riverside Opera Ensemble, Inc.
The Riverside Opera Ensemble, Inc. is a Manhattan based not-for-profit organization dedicated to serving, developing, and nurturing artists and audiences through music theatre production, creation, experimentation and education.
Riverside Opera Ensemble has happily returned to production with its May 16, 2022 concert at Merkin Hall at the Kaufman Music Center in New York City. The concert features new music by Nathan R. Matthews and Drew Fornarola.
In 2007 the company celebrated Pulitzer Prize winning composer, David Del Tredici’s 70th birthday with a concert at Merkin Hall at the Kaufman Music Center. The concert featured a performance by the composer with baritone, Chris Pedro Trakas of his song cycle, Love Addiction. The program included Jungle Songs by Richard Pearson Thomas, William Komaiko’s Variations on Childhood, and the first outing of two selections from Nathan R. Matthews, composer, and Stephen Pickover, librettist’s then work in progress, The Count of Monte Cristo.
The company celebrated its 20th Anniversary at Merkin Concert Hall in 2004 with a concert that featured the premiere of a commissioned song cycle, On Winds of Song by Pulitzer Prize winning composer, David Del Tredici. Harolyn Blackwell premiered A Woman’s Plight by Nathan R. Matthews. Songs by Stephen Dembski also received a world premiere performances that evening.
Founded in 1984, Riverside Opera Ensemble has attracted the notice of renowned artists including Leonard Bernstein, who offered the company financial and professional support and served as honorary chair for the company’s New York premiere of Zandonai’s Giulietta e Romeo (1988), a benefit for “God’s Love We Deliver.” Among the many artists who have participated in Riverside Opera Ensemble’s productions and concerts since 1984 are John Astin, Randy Blooding, Michael Boriskin, Keith Buterbaugh, Jennifer and Marissa Byers, Harry Dworchak, Alan Gilbert, Joe Gladstone, Elvira Green, Robin Guarino, David Holkeboer, John F. Joy, Kathleen Keske, Regina O’Malley, Martin Paklidinaz, Evan Pappas, Hila Plitmann, Michael Ricciardone, Eric Rockwell, Brian Charles Rooney, Amy Russ, Virginia Seidel, Judith Skinner, and Audrey Stottler.
Riverside Opera Ensemble productions have included Britten’s Rape of Lucretia (1984), Leoncavallo’s ZAZA (1985), Massenet’s Werther (1986), The Threepenny Opera (1987), Oh! Boy (1990), a twenty-fifth anniversary production of John Clifton’s Man With A Load of Mischief (1991), and a centennial production of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta (1992). In Where or When… (1994), which the company produced on Theatre Row, Matthews and Stephen Pickover explored Riverside Opera Ensemble’s development of new work using the music and lyrics of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart with new arrangements and storylines. The company co-produced three concerts (1998-99) including a 75th birthday celebration for American composer, Ned Rorem with Columbia University’s Miller Theatre and the first pre-Edgar Awards concert (2000) at St. Peter’s at the Citicorp with Mystery Writers of America. Rosemary Harris and John Ehle served as the gala benefit opening’s honorary benefit chairs for the world premiere production of Patrick Byers’s new opera, Incident At San Bajo (2001), based on Brad Korbesmeyer’s play with a libretto by Peter Bennett. With NYU-Tisch and USC, the company jointly presented the initial reading of Con Man (2004) by Benjamin and Joseph Boone at NYU-Tisch. Riverside Opera Ensemble produced the world premiere production of Richard Pearson Thomas’s Parallel Lives (2005) in NYC after its initial reading at The State University of New York at Buffalo.
NATHAN R. MATTHEWS is a music director, conductor, director, vocal coach, composer, producer, pianist, and educator. Regarding Matthews’ composition, Anthony Tomassini wrote in The New York Times, “…it was impossible to resist the soprano Harolyn Blackwell’s deeply expressive account of A Woman’s Plight, a setting of some Edgar Allan Poe poems by an artistic director of the Riverside Opera Ensemble, Nathan R. Matthews.” He is the composer of, The Count of Monte Cristo, a Lyric Drama, which he wrote with librettist, Stephen Pickover, a Metropolitan Opera stage director.
On Broadway Nathan was Music Associate for the Stephen Sondheim 75th birthday gala, Children and Art, directed by Richard Maltby, Jr., which led to Nathan being a contributing author to The Oxford Handbook of Sondheim Studies for which he wrote “Orchestrators in their own words: the sound of Sondheim in the 21st century.” He conceived, orchestrated, arranged and music directed a new music theatre work, It Goes Like It Goes, The Music of David Shire, in collaboration with the composer and director, Terry Berliner.
He directed and music supervised the initial USA production of Simon Stephens’s adaptation of The Threepenny Opera for a Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and University at Buffalo Kurt Weill Festival. He coached Mark Hamill’s keyboard work for Broadway’s Amadeus directed by Sir Peter Hall, worked on the music staff of the Santa Fe Opera, spent eight seasons touring the USA and Canada for Columbia Artists and Karlsrud Concerts, and music directed an Off-Broadway revival of They’re Playing Our Song.
He is the founding director and Producing Artistic Director of The Riverside Opera Ensemble, where, with Leonard Bernstein serving as honorary chair for a benefit performance for God’s Love We Deliver, Nathan produced and conducted the New York premiere of Zandonai’s Giulietta e Romeo. For ROE he produced and music directed and the world premiere of Patrick Byer’s opera, Incident at San Bajo; a concert starring John Astin for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Awards; co-created and produced a Rodgers and Hart revue, Where or When…,; and mounted new productions of Zaza, Werther, The Rape of Lucretia, Iolanta, Hansel and Gretel, Oh! Boy, The Threepenny Opera, and Man With a Load of Mischief.
He has staged productions of Les Miserables, A Little Night Music, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along, On The Town, Spring Awakening, Rent, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. He conducted and music directed My Favorite Year directed by Evan Pappas in New York City; Shout! in NYC; Smokey Joe’s Cafe at Artpark (NY); The Amorous Flea at Riverside Theatre (FL); and Jekyll and Hyde, Beauty and the Beast, Chicago, Oliver!, Call Me Madam, and Camelot at Virginia Musical Theatre. Some of Nathan’s other music direction credits include American Idiot, Carousel, Evita, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Legally Blonde, Man of la Mancha, A Man of No Importance, The Music Man, Oklahoma!, Pippin, The Sound of Music, and Sweeney Todd.
Nathan’s career includes work with many notable artists including Christiane Noll, Ann Blyth, Dixie Carter, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Harvey Evans, Richard Fredricks, Noel Harrison, Anne Hathaway, Stefania de Kennessey, Edward Parks, Constantine Maroulis, Daniel Pelzig, and Jane Powell. Nathan’s former students include two Tony Award winners, an Academy Award nominee, and an Outer Critics Circle Award nominated Theatre World Award winner.
He has served as Director of Music Theatre and Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo – SUNY and on the faculties of the University of Florida and The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA). His former students include two Tony Award winners, an Academy Award nominee, and an Outer Critics Circle Award nominated Theatre World Award winner. Nathan teaches and coaches privately in New York City and in Hampton Roads, VA.