Charles Eaton, baritone & Celeste Marie Johnson, piano
Hosted by composer Abbie Betinis, our popular Courtroom Concerts take place at noon most Thursdays in the Landmark Center in downtown Saint Paul. This series features accomplished musicians and composers from the Twin Cities and surrounding area, as well as occasional musical newcomers to the area. These one-hour concerts are free and open to the public.
About the Artists:
Chione is a Twin Cities-based woodwind quintet comprised of innovative and cross-disciplinary women. The unique and evolving medium provides an outlet to explore and create new sounds while redefining and rediscovering lesser known music. Chione is committed to collaborating with professionals of all genres and creative outlets, with particular interests in commissioning new pieces and performing works by women artists. Throughout each endeavor, Chione aims to reach a wide range of audiences with the hopes of inspiring contemporary and aspiring artists as well as supporters of the arts.
Since Chione’s inception, the ensemble has performed live on Classical Minnesota Public Radio, they have performed as pop-up classical artists representing Classical MPR at the 2017 Saint Paul Winter Carnival Beer Dabbler as well as the Current’s 2018 Rock the Cradle event. Chione will hold their 3nd annual quINTENS!VE Chamber Music Camp in August, working with middle and high school students through coaching and performing chamber music. Chione performs numerous self-presented performances throughout the year in venues such as the Schubert Club, Macphail Center for Music, Icehouse Minneapolis, Can Can Wonderland and the Woman’s Club. In March of 2018 Chione made their debut as Courtroom Concert Artists at the Schubert Club, performing a concert of works written solely by women. Throughout the 2018-2019 school year Chione has had the pleasure of performing their “Story Time with Chione” program with elementary schools throughout Minnesota as Classical Minnesota Public Radio Class Notes Artists.
Charles H. Eaton, a top-prize winner in the 2021 Lotte Lenya Competition, makes his recital debut with The Musicians of Ma’alwyck in the 2021-2022 season (featuring Finzi’s By footpath and stile performed with string quartet). He covers the role of Mr. Lindquist in A Little Night Music at Arizona Opera, and returns to Minnesota Opera to perform Moralès in their brand new production of Carmen directed by Denyce Graves. In the 2022-2023 season, he will join the Resident Artist Program at Minnesota Opera and make role debuts as Argante in Rinaldo, the Corporal in La fille du régiment, and Masetto in Don Giovanni. He will also cover the role of Bryce in the world premiere of Edward Tulane by Paola Prestini and Mark Campbell.
In the 2019-2020 season, Mr. Eaton made his role and company debut as Marcello in La Bohème with the Imperial Symphony Orchestra (Lakeland Opera). He also made company debuts as a soloist in the 15th annual Jukebox Gala with Pensacola Opera, and as the English Ambassador in The Ghosts of Versailles with the Château de Versailles Spectacles. In the previous season, he made role and company debuts as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with New York City Opera in Bryant Park, William Dale in Silent Night with Minnesota Opera, and Vitellius in Hérodiade with New Amsterdam Opera. He returned to Madison Opera as Carl-Magnus in their A Little Night Music, and to Minnesota Opera to create the roles of Arnold Rothstein and George Gorman in the world premiere of Joel Puckett’s The Fix. He also returned to The Glimmerglass Festival for the 2019 summer season to perform Steve / Max in Show Boat and cover Figaro in The Ghosts of Versailles.
In the 2017-2018 season, Mr. Eaton made multiple company debuts, including German Sentry/Soldier #3 in Silent Night with The Glimmerglass Festival as a member of the young artist program, Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance with Park Square Theater, and Moralès in Carmen with Madison Opera. He also made his concert debut with The Mankato Symphony Orchestra as Riff in West Side Story.
In May of 2017, Charles completed a second year as a resident artist with Opera Colorado, where he performed Figaro in the touring production of The Barber of Seville, Bello in La fanciulla del West and Enrico in the student matinee of Lucia di Lammermoor. In the previous season, he sang the Father in the touring production of Hansel and Gretel and Governor Bellingham in the student matinee of the world premiere of The Scarlet Letter. He returned to Des Moines Metro Opera in 2017 for a second summer as an apprentice, where he sang Mr. Lindquist and covered Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music. In their 2015 season, he covered Lescaut in Manon and participated in the ensemble of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice.
Mr. Eaton has extensive experience with new American works. In addition to his creation of two roles in the world premiere, he participated in multiple workshops (various roles) for The Fix at Minnesota Opera. He was also featured in their Act I workshop for The Shining (premiered 2016), where he prepared the role of Horace Derwent. In May of 2014, he shared the lead baritone role (Hurstwood) in a workshop performance of Sister Carrie at Florentine Opera (premiered 2016).
Charles received his Bachelor of Music degree in 2013 from the University of Connecticut where he sang Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Thomas Putnam in The Crucible and more. In the summer of 2013, he performed the role of John Brooke (Little Women) with the Hartford Opera Theater. He received his Master of Music from the University of Minnesota where credits included Conte Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, the Forrester in The Cunning Little Vixen and Masetto in Don Giovanni. In his second year of studies, he was a participant of the ECCO Program, which facilitated hours of coaching and exchange between promising young artists in the School of Music and the music staff at Minnesota Opera.
Mr. Eaton was a third-prize winner in the 2021 Lotte Lenya Competition, a finalist in the 2021 Opera Ithaca Edward M. Murray Vocal Competition, a semi-finalist in the 2020 Premiere Opera Foundation / NYIOP International Voice Competition, a second place winner of the 2019 American Prize Competition, a district winner of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition and the first place winner of the 2015 Thursday Musical competition in Minneapolis, MN.
Pianist Celeste Marie Johnson, described as “eloquent” by the Baltimore Sun, is dedicated to storytelling through the powerful intersection of text and music in vocal repertoire. A sought-after recital partner, she premiered Libby Larson’s North Shore Songs with Clara Osowski as part of the Schubert Club Courtroom Concerts series in 2022. She has also collaborated with LOFT Recital and was featured in Minnesota Opera’s Apart Together Artist Showcase series in 2021. In 2020, Celeste was selected to be a participant in Renée Fleming’s SongStudio at Carnegie Hall and in 2018 she received the Marc and Eva Stern Fellowship at SongFest and was a faculty coach at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.
Celeste is currently the Principal Coach and Chorus Director at Minnesota Opera. In this position and as a Resident Artist from 2020-2022, she has been music staff for productions including Daughter of the Regiment, Edward Tulane, Carmen, L’Amant Anonyme, and Albert Herring. Previously, Celeste has worked with the Boston University Opera Institute, Odyssey Opera, Inland Northwest Opera, Atlantic Music Festival, Hawai’i Performing Arts Festival, and Peabody Opera Theatre. An avid choral pianist, she has performed with the Massachusetts Music Educators All-State Choir, Coro Allegro: Boston’s LGBTQ+ and Allied Classical Chorus, and choirs at Boston University, Gonzaga University, and Baylor University.
Celeste holds degrees in piano performance from Baylor University (BM), vocal accompanying from The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University (MM), and collaborative piano from Boston University (DMA). In 2021, she became a Certified Professional Coach through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. She is looking forward to the upcoming world premiere of The Song Poet with Minnesota Opera and serving as chorus director this summer for Don Pasquale with Lakes Area Music Festival. When not at a piano, you can find Celeste practicing yoga, hiking, reading poetry, or doting over her cat, Pushkin.