Ferdinandus “Nando” Schellen will be honored with the Viola Legacy Award for Lifetime Contribution to the Arts and Sciences at the 2017 Viola Awards Gala on March 4, 2017.
Born in The Hague, The Netherlands, on October 11, 1934, Nando Schellen enjoyed an extensive, international career with numerous achievements, and made a vast impact on the community of Flagstaff through his dedication to education and music.
Nando’s long experience in opera began with his tenure as Associate General Director for Netherlands Opera, from 1969-1986, followed by a stage directorship notable for the effective support and/or training by renowned opera figures Götz Friedrich, Lotfi Mansouri and Harry Kupfer. Nando was Assistant Stage Director for the Bayreuther Festspiele, and has directed Die Zauberflöte at the Holland Festival, Lohengrin at COC/Toronto, Eugene Onegin in Altenburg/East Germany, Die Lustige Weiber von Windsor in Aachen/Germany and Nabucco for International Donau Opera, Bulgaria; the latter toured throughout Europe. Nando’s career included the Interim General Directorship of the Sweelinck Conservatory of Music for 3 years, as well as Presidency of The Netherlands Wind Ensemble for 23 years. From 1992-1996, he was General/Artistic Director of Indianapolis Opera. As critic of music, Nando authored numerous articles for publication in European and American periodicals. He was a member of the jury for the International Vocal Competition (IVC) in Hertogenbosch/Netherlands in 2007 and 2008.
Nando staged dozens of full operas as well as musicals and opera scenes to allow audiences and singers a sampling of classics as well as lesser-known pieces. He oversaw productions by a truly broad range of composers including Argento, Beethoven, Berkeley, Bizet, Britten, Debussy, Donizetti, Gilbert & Sullivan, Gluck, Handel, Hindemith, Humperdinck, Menotti, Monteverdi, Mozart, Nicolai, Purcell, Poulenc, Puccini, Schoenberg, Schubert, Strauss, (Richard and Johann), Ullmann, Verdi, Wagner, Weill, Bernstein, Kander, & Sondheim. His American productions include Erwartung/Schoenberg, Rigoletto, Salome, Ariadne auf Naxos, Così fan tutte, Samson et Dalila and Don Giovanni.
Nando’s teaching career included the position of opera director with the international summer school “Oberlin at Casalmaggiore” in Northern Italy (1998-2000) and continued in 2000 with his appointment as Director of Opera Theater at Northern Arizona University – a position he held until his retirement as Associate Professor Emeritus of Music in 2015 at the age of 80.
As Director of Opera Theater at Northern Arizona University, Nando taught Opera History and Movement & Acting for Singers. At NAU he directed fully staged productions of Into the Woods, Così fan tutte (3x), Die Zauberflöte (2x), A Little Night Music (2x), The Fantasticks, Dido and Aeneas, Gianni Schicchi (2x), Suor Angelica, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Erwartung, Le Nozze di Figaro (2X), Die Fledermaus, Der Kaiser von Atlantis, Don Giovanni, The Medium, The Old Maid and the Thief, La Voix Humaine (3x), The Telephone (2x). Serse (Xerxes), L’Incoronazione di Poppea, The Rape of Lucretia, A Hand of Bridge, Hin und Zurück, Albert Herring, L’Elisir d’amore, The Long Christmas Dinner, A Dinner Engagement, Trial by Jury, and Pierrot Lunaire.
In addition, he also directed opera scenes excerpted from Die Walküre, Lohengrin, Tosca, La Bohème, Chicago, Peter Grimes, Billy Budd, Giulio Cesare, Pelléas et Mélisande, Madama Butterfly, Hansel and Gretel, Der Rosenkavalier, Otello, Orfeo ed Euridice, Idomeneo, The Consul, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor.
He and his wife, soprano Deborah Raymond, co-founded the Italian summer opera program “Flagstaff in Fidenza.” He was Artistic Director of the program for five summers, beginning in 2007. In Fidenza he directed the full operas Die Entführung aus dem Serail/Mozart and Die Zauberflöte/Mozart, La Voix Humaine /Poulenc, The Telephone/Menotti, Le nozze di Figaro/Mozart, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi/Puccini, and La Traviata/Verdi plus numerous opera scenes.
Nando’s work has been enjoyed by NAU students and wider audiences in a variety of venues worldwide. He required his student-performers to learn not only the sung portions in the original language – be it Italian, German, British English, or French-but the dialogues, as well. His dedication to teaching original-language opera production at the collegiate level is not practiced by every university in the United States – especially with primarily undergraduate students.
Nando passed away in Phoenix, Arizona on March 28, 2016 after a brief illness. He is survived by his wife, Deborah Raymond, sister Marijke, brother John, daughters Eugenie, Saskia, and Katia, son Ivo, and grandchildren Eva, Sophie, Jip, and Annika, as well as countless colleagues and friends around the globe who mourn his passing and who applaud the honor accorded posthumously by this Legacy Award.