Linda Hirt | Artistic Director, Vocal Coach

Linda Hirt, who made her New York Carnegie Recital Hall debut under the auspices of the Concert Artist Guild, has performed and taught and on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Among her professional achievements are live radio appearances in New York and Chicago and recordings for Vanguard Records and German national television.  As founder and artistic director of Musica nelle Marche LLC, she has shared her passion for Italian music and culture with hundreds of aspiring young artists. Ms. Hirt is a vocal coach and mentor at DePaul University School of Music where she also served as Vocal Coordinator for ten years.

Geoff Hirt | General Director

Geoffrey Hirt Ph.D. is an internationally known author of finance and business textbooks that have been translated into more than 13 languages. Dr. Hirt taught at DePaul University in the Department of Finance for 30 years and served as department chairman for 11 years. While at DePaul, he directed international MBA programs in Hong Kong, Bahrain and Prague. He has also taught in Italy, Poland, Germany and Thailand and has a great appreciation for international education. He is currently on the Dean’s advisory board and executive committee of DePaul’s School of Music. He also serves on the board of directors of the James C. Tyree Foundation, a Chicago based foundation that funds innovative educational programs in the Chicago area. Since 2007, Dr. Hirt has been the general director and business manager of Musica nelle Marche LLC.

Ashley Eason | Program Operations Manager

Ashley Eason is an American mezzo-soprano whose expanding career demonstrates her diversity as a performer, educator, and arts professional. She is an active soloist and ensemble singer whose repertory encompasses a variety of styles including opera, oratorio, chanson, lieder, art song, and world music. Ms. Eason is a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus based in Chicago, Illinois singing under the baton of CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti, and many other internationally leading conductors. Ms. Eason’s recent season highlights include Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cavalleria Rusticana with Lakeland Opera, Verdi’s Aida with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Brahms Requiem with CSO at the highly acclaimed Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois. Throughout her expanding career, Ms. Eason has enjoyed performing various operatic roles such as Dido in Dido and Aeneas, Speranza in L’Orfeo, La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, Charlotte in Werther, and others. A lover of oratorio, she was a recent soloist in performances of Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Handel’s Messiah.

In addition to her singing career, Ms. Eason is also an arts advocate, administrator, and entrepreneur whose background includes positions with organizations such as Stetson University School of Music, Central Florida Vocal Arts, and Palm Beach Opera. She also maintains a real estate business serving Central Florida and the greater Chicago area.

Ms. Eason completed her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance with distinction at DePaul University (Chicago, Illinois) in 2017. She is a protégé of master teacher and internationally acclaimed soprano Julia Faulkner, current Director of Vocal studies for the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She was an Angeli Scholar for the Musica Nelle Marche opera program in Urbino, Italy, where she spent a summer abroad studying voice, performing Italian opera, and undertaking Italian language study at Università degli Studi di Urbino. Prior to her studies at DePaul University, Ms. Eason completed both her Master’s in Business Administration and Bachelor of Music with an outside field of business administration at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida.

Alexandra Lewis | Administrative Coordinator

Alexandra Lewis is an American soprano living in Biel, Switzerland. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance at DePaul University (Chicago). Since September 2022, she has been completing her masters with the Swiss Opera Studio at the Bern University of the Arts (HKB) under the guidance of Claude Eichenberger.

Ms. Lewis has recently performed the roles of Nella and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Musetta in La Bohème, Noémie in Cendrillon, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and Cinderella in Into the Woods. With the Swiss Opera Studio, she was part of opera sketches highlighting Dame Ethel Smyth. She was also featured as a soloist in Des Knaben Wunderhorn by Gustav Mahler under the direction of Mathias Behrends and Mladen Tarbuk.

She was awarded first prize in the Kleinman Singing Competition (USA, Chicago) in 2022 and was part of the summer festivals of the Trentino Music Festival, Musica nelle Marche, Mediterranean Opera Studio and Festival, Berlin Opera Academy and the Chicago Summer Opera.

In the 2023/24 season, Alexandra Lewis will perform with Bühnen Bern as Barena in Jenůfa by Leoš Janáček. She also will perform with HKB and Theater und Orchester Biel Solothurn the role of Ersilia in Cimarosa’s Le astuzie femminili.

Massimo Sabbatini | Conductor and Coach

Maestro Massimo Sabbatini is a well-known Italian conductor who has worked with Andrea Bocelli and Daniela Dessi as well as other international performers. He is an accomplished pianist and opera coach and Musica nelle Marche is delighted to have him on our faculty.

He received a diploma from the G. Rossini Conservatory of Music in Pesaro, Italy where he studied violin, composition and orchestral conducting. He is active as a violinist, pianist and conductor of orchestral and choral music. He has taught choral and orchestral conducting at various Italian conservatories. His choirs have performed throughout Europe and recently performed at the University of Paris where a standing room audience greeted his choir.

Saori Chiba | Vocal Coach

Acclaimed by the Chicago Daily Herald, “brilliant Japanese pianist” Saora Chiba is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for her superb keybord artistry. Her five current albums are regularly featured on nationally prominent radio stations. WFMT, WFIU, KING, and KUAT with two recordings capturing the Daily Herald’s coveted TopTen Classical CDs of The Year Award, and the Grammy Award Entry List for Best Chamer of Music Performance.

Ms. Chiba’s materclass associations include such names as Joyce DiDonato, Dalton Baldwin, Martin Katz, David Schrader, Denyce Graves, and Samuel Ramey, and she recently collaborated with globally recognized artists, Maestro Christoph Eschenbach and violinish Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg at the Ravinia Festival. She has also appeared on renowned radio broadcasts includingthe Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts and the PianoForte Salon Series. Highly sought after as a répétiteur and coach, Ms. Chiba frequently assists with Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Santa Barbara, and Italian summer festivals, Orvieto Musica, and Musica nelle Marche.

 Scott Ramsay | Music Director and Voice Teacher

Praised by Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times for his “stentorian, strong tenor”, Scott Ramsay is highly regarded by Opera companies and Symphony Orchestras across North America and abroad for his dynamic performances in varying repertoire.

Operatic engagements include leading roles with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dublin International Opera Festival, New Orleans Opera, Kentucky Opera, Anchorage Opera, Portland Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Madison Opera, Sacramento Opera, Opera Boston, Virginia Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Arizona Opera, Opera New Jersey, Syracuse Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Dayton Opera, San Francisco Opera and Music Artes in Manilla, Philippines among others. 

Symphonic engagements include solo appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, Grant Park and Ravinia Music Festivals and the Kaohsiung Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan, to name a few.

Eric McEnaney | Vocal Coach

Eric McEnaney enjoys a multifaceted career as one of America’s foremost opera pianists and vocal coaches, having assisted on the musical preparation of more than 100 productions for companies throughout the country. Dr. McEnaney served as Principal Production Pianist & Coach at Florentine Opera Company for four seasons, where he oversaw the musical preparation of a dozen shows and two world-premiere recordings, Sister Carrie (Aldridge/Garfein) and the Grammy-nominated Prince of Players (Carlisle Floyd). He is currently a Master Coach for Minnesota Opera and serves as Music Director for Opera Reading Project, a role-reading series for working and aspiring Twin Cities singers. Dr. McEnaney has worked as an orchestral keyboardist for Minnesota Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, St. Paul Civic Symphony, and the orchestras of Minnesota Opera and Central City Opera, and also serves as an official pianist for the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition. As a recitalist, he has collaborated with singers from the rosters of the nation’s leading opera houses and has assisted many of the most renowned vocal artists of our time in masterclasses and private coaching sessions. Dr. McEnaney’s performances have been broadcast locally and nationally on PBS, Great Performances, American Public Media, Minnesota Public Radio, Colorado Public Radio, Twin Cities Public Television’s Almanac, KSTP-TV’s Twin Cities Live, and WCCO-TV’s Mid-Morning. He holds advanced degrees in piano performance and collaborative piano and maintains a private coaching studio in Minneapolis, where he also resides.

Candace Evans | Director/Dramatic Coach

An award-winning director, Ms. Evans has been internationally praised for “a flawless sense of timing” (Opera News), with work that is “genuine gripping drama” (Opera Now). Her production of La Viuda Alegre for the legendary Teatro Colón was named in the top three operas of the entire Argentinian season. Known for incisive story-telling, she wrote the libretto, and directed Wisdom of Stone, for OperaVision Europe during the lockdown of 2020. 

Ms. Evans performance career includes vocal studies at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, an MFA in classical acting/directing, with tours both national and international. She has danced with the Wisconsin Ballet, sung with the Dallas Symphony, done national voice-overs, and appeared in both film and episodic television. This combination of talent and experience illustrates why her directorial style includes the integration of musical intent, dramatic truth and the physical life of performers. 

Previously on the theatre/music faculty of Southern Methodist University, she is committed to working with young artists. She has lectured and directed at Yale, Carnegie Mellon, Indiana University, Oberlin in Italy, La Musica Lirica, Taos Opera Institute and Seagle Colony. 

Among her past professional engagements are the opera companies of Dallas, Santa Fe, Arizona, North Carolina, San Jose, San Diego, Palm Beach, Madison, Fort Worth, Grand Rapids, Birmingham, Livermore, Opera Southwest, and the Florentine. 

Jill Grove | Voice Teacher

Before the pandemic, American mezzo-soprano Jill Grove returned to both the Metropolitan Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago as the Governess in Pique Dame, joined Minnesota Opera for Klytaemnestra in Elektra, and was scheduled at the Metropolitan Opera for their production of Káťa Kabanova before the pandemic shut everything down.  Last season she sang the Fortune Teller in Arabella and Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana with San Francisco Opera, 1st Maid in Elektra with Canadian Opera Company, and returned to the Metropolitan Opera for their productions of Götterdämmerung and Dialogues des Carmélites. She also joined the Calgary Philharmonic for performances of Verdi’s Requiem.  Jill will make her Arizona Opera debut in the winter of 2022 in their production of A Little Night Music.

The mezzo’s other recent performances include; Klytaemnestra in Elektra with Michigan Opera Theatre; Auntie in Peter Grimes with Canadian Opera Company; Ježibaba in Rusalka and First Maid in Elektra with Houston Grand Opera; Buryja in Jenůfa, and Madelon in Andrea Chenier at San Francisco Opera; Dame Quickly in Falstaff, Muschel in Die ägyptische Helena, Florence Pike in Albert Herring, Ursule in Béatrice et Bénédict, and Antonia’s Mother in Les contes d’Hoffmann with Santa Fe Opera; Erda in Siegfried, Nutrice in L’Incoronazione di Poppea, and Zita in Gianni Schicchi at Los Angeles Opera; Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress with Pittsburgh Opera and Utah Opera; Amneris in Aida in previous performances with Canadian Opera Company, San Diego Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago.. In Europe, Ms. Grove has performed the role of Haushälterin in Die schweigsame Frau with Théâtre du Châtelet; Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera with Welsh National Opera and Teatro Carlo Felice; and Erda in Siegfried and the First Norn in Götterdämmerung with the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich under the baton of Kent Nagano.