New Voice Faculty Joins MSU

College of Music welcomes baritone Mark Rucker, appointed to the vocal arts area.

Mark Rucker’s opera debut included the roll of Renato in “Un Ballo in Maschera” with Luciano Pavarotti for the Opera Company of Philadelphia.

A well-respected mentor and one of the pre-eminent baritones in the world today will join MSU’s vocal arts faculty beginning Fall Semester 2016. The appointment of Mark Rucker as professor of voice brings another layer of talent, energy, and dedication to the vocal arts area of the College of Music. The baritone professor from New York City will be joined by his wife Sadie Rucker, appointed voice accompanist, lesson pianist, and the vocal arts outreach program coordinator.

“Mark Rucker brings to MSU a big career, a big heart, a big talent, and a passion for recruiting, teaching, and mentoring talented students,” says James Forger, Dean of the College of Music. “Together with our other wonderful vocal arts faculty colleagues, Mark and his wife Sadie will help us rocket forward to new heights.”

Rucker brings a vast network of performance connections through a well known and well traveled career, including numerous stage appearances in Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, as well as travels with prestigious companies like Wiener Staatsopera, Area di Verona, Teatro Comunale, Bologna, ROH Covent Garden, and Chicago Lyric Opera, including performances with the Radio Vara Orchestra in Concertgebouw, and the Israel and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

Known for his compassionate resolve with students, Rucker’s love for mentoring is apparent through his work and leadership in the Martina Arroyo Foundation of New York City. Beginning in 2005, Rucker and his wife Sadie helped lead the newly founded young artist program “Prelude to Performance,” from a pay-to-sing format to a fully funded program.

“His proven artistry and his international and national connections in the field are wonderful assets,” says Richard Fracker, MSU professor of voice and chair of the vocal arts area. “His leadership role in the classical performing arts, and his background as a music educator provide our faculty with an impressive colleague and our students with an impressive role model, educator, and mentor.” 

Professor of Voice Jane Bunnell, a recent addition to the voice faculty and friend and colleague of Rucker, recalls his integrity and talent.

“He has a deep, stealthy sense of humor and a heart as big as MSU,” says Bunnell. “Mark and Sadie bring an energy and dedication that fits well with the voice area and its mission. They work tirelessly in nurturing the next generation of singing artists. We are thrilled to welcome them to MSU and can’t wait for MSU to get to know them.”  

Rucker says he and Sadie are extremely pleased to join the MSU faculty.

"MSU has quite an accomplished and affable team with a total commitment to the improvement of students," he says. "It was truly infectious to witness how the faculty worked among each other and with their students."

A wide-reaching national search yielded 40 applicants for review of the baritone voice position. Search members included a cross-disciplinary committee of both faculty and students from the College of Music. Chaired by Fracker, the committee included faculty members Jane Bunnell, Melanie Helton, Elden Little and Gordon Sly; student members Steve Martin and Kaeun Lee; and consultant David Rayl, associate dean for graduate studies and research.

About Mark Rucker

From the time of his debut as Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera with Luciano Pavarotti for the Opera Company of Philadelphia, American baritone Mark Rucker has been in demand in opera houses and on concert stages throughout the world. In addition to an active performing career, he has been the administrative director for the Martina Arroyo Foundation’s celebrated Young Artist Program, Prelude to Performance, since 2005 and artistic director since 2015.

Rucker made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Amonasro in Aida and has since been heard at the Met as Don Carlo in La Forza del Destino, Tonio in I Pagliacci, and as Rigoletto for the Met in the Parks and continues to be part of the Met roster. He sang the major baritone roles in Rigoletto, Macbeth, Nabucco, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Traviata, Stiffelio, Aida, Il Trovatore, Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci, Samson et Dalila and Die Fliegende Holländer for companies such as Arena di Verona, Wiener Staatsopera, Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Teatro Comunale, Bologna, Netherlands Opera, Greek National Opera, Opéra de Wallonie, Bregenz, Savonlinna and Santander, New York City Opera, San Diego, Florida Grand, L’Opera Montreal, and numerous other North American companies. He has worked with celebrated maestri, including Richard Bonynge, Riccardo Chailly, Fabio Luisi, Daniele Gatti, Carlo Rizzi, Gianandrea Noseda, Bruno Campanella, and Paolo Arrivabeni.

Rucker made his Carnegie Hall debut to great acclaim as Don Carlo in La Forza del Destino. His other concert credits include Linda di Chamounix and Jerusalem with the Concertgebouw, and Rigoletto with the Israel and Rotterdam Philharmonics. He will sing the role of Paolo in Simone Boccanegra for ROH Covent Garden and Jack Rance in La Fanciulla del West for Opera Colorado next season.

Recordings include Mark Rucker Sings Lena Mclin’s Songs For Voice and Piano; Amonasro in Aida for Naxos and Cambro in Opera Ebony’s recording of Fosca by A. Carlos Gomes.

For more about Mark Rucker including audio and video of his performances, visit his website.

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