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Virginia Opera Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program

 HF EmergingArtists withText sm 2014-15Virginia Opera's 2014-15 Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists as part of the Master Teacher Series

The Virginia Opera Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program provides training, performance opportunities and access to industry connections and resources to a group of Opera’s talented rising stars. As one of the most competitive training programs in the nation, the Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program has over 650 applicants annually for an average of 12-20 artist contracts. Our Emerging Artists appear in Virginia Opera mainstage productions, touring educational productions and perform in recitals, donor events and our Master Teacher Series. Recent alumni of the Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program (formerly known as Spectrum Artists) include: David Pershall, Brian Jagde, Julia Ebner and Nathan Stark.

2016-2017 Application & Audition Information


Applications for the 2016-2017 Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program are now closed. To find out how to apply for the 2017-2018 Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program, please check back in June.


Audition Notification

Please check here to see if you have been granted an audition for the 2016-2017 Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program.

Artists must confirm their audition with Alexandra Stacey, by email or by phone (757) 213-4541 no later than November 27, 2015



Auditions for the 2016-2017 season will be held in New York City. Preliminary rounds will take place on December 7, 8 and 9, 2015; and the final round will take place on December 10, 2015. All Candidates must be available to sing on one of the preliminary dates AND on the date of the final round. Virginia Opera will provide an accompanist. Guest accompanists are not permitted. Candidates should prepare five (5) arias.  Your repertoire should include a variety of languages and styles.



Performing Opportunities

Virginia Opera's Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists perform leading and comprimario roles and/or cover leading roles in the company's mainstage productions. Additionally, some Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists perform leading roles in fully-staged Education and Community Outreach productions that tour schools throughout the state of Virginia. Community concerts and company promotional concerts offer artists the opportunity to perform standard arias and ensembles in concerts with piano. Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists are regularly re-engaged for main stage productions in future seasons.


Study Opportunities

Each participant receives regular coaching with members of Virginia Opera's Artistic Staff, which include Principal Coach Shelby Rhoades, Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor Adam Turner and various guest conductors, directors, and singers. Master classes are held throughout the season covering topics such as resume preparation, auditioning techniques, stagecraft and foreign languages.

Our program provides exceptionally talented emerging artists with a seasonal residency program that offers an extensive schedule of performing opportunities in the context of a professional training program. Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists receive weekly compensation, plus housing and transportation to Virginia.

Virginia Opera is committed to finding and training the outstanding artists of tomorrow. Those selected to participate in the program will be challenged and supported by an outstanding staff.

Apprentice Coaches

Education and Community Outreach Performance Opportunities

Apprentice Coaches must serve as musical directors and pianists for Education and Community Outreach productions. They also serve as coaches for the resident young artists, preparing them for their mainstage roles, cover roles, and concerts. Coaches learn the basics of artistic administration and company management by serving as  tour managers, as well as providing coaching for the young artists' personal repertoire. Apprentice coaches are adjunct members of the mainstage musical staff. They are scheduled to serve as pianists for cover rehearsals.

Mainstage Performance Opportunities

Apprentice coaches are adjunct members of the mainstage musical staff. They are scheduled to serve as rehearsal pianists in several mainstage productions and serve as pianists for cover rehearsals. Community concerts and company promotional concerts offer apprentice coaches the opportunity to perform for a variety of audiences.

Study Opportunities

Each participant receives coachings from Principal Coach Shelby Rhoades and Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor Adam Turner. Coaches will receive training and support from administrative staff to aid in tour management. The in-house artistic staff offers classes in resume preparation and auditioning techniques during the course of the season. Master classes are held with visiting stage directors and other distinguished guests throughout the season.

Candidate Qualifications

Apprentice coaches should have attained at least a Bachelor of Music degree in piano and have exceptional experience in vocal accompanying. Graduate work is strongly preferred. Individuals should be capable of managing artists on tour and overseeing non-artistic aspects of the Virginia Opera's Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist Program.

Apply to the Program

Please send your resume and a cover letter via e-mail to We would also welcome an MP3 or video of your playing.

The Audition

For the audition please prepare a Mozart finale of your choice, from either Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni or The Marriage of Figaro. You will also be asked to sing and play three arias that demonstrate accompagnato recit: "No word from Tom", "Sein wir wieder gut", and "Hai già la vinta la causa". Please contact Alexandra Stacey at for clarification.


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Martin Bakari, tenor

Hometown: Yellow Springs, OH

Where I studied: The Juilliard School (M.M.), Boston University (B.M. & Opera Institute), Tanglewood Music Center (Vocal Fellow)

Performance History: Lead tenor in Anthony Gatto's Wise Blood with Walker Art Center and The Soap Factory, lead tenor in Tobin Stokes' Fallujah with the Kennedy Center, Ferrando in Cosí fan tutte with Opera Ebony and Pine Mountain Music Festival, tenor soloist in Wynton Marsalis' Abyssinian Mass with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, featured ensemble in Show Boat with Portland Opera, Fourth Jew in Salome with Virginia Opera, Ralph Rackstraw (cover) in HMS Pinafore with Virginia Opera, Henrik in A Little Night Music with Pine Mountain Music Festival, The Schoolmaster in Cunning Little Vixen with Juilliard Opera, lead tenors in Milhaud's L'enlévement d'Europe and L'abandon d'Ariane at Tanglewood, Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos at Tanglewood, lead tenor in John Harbison's Full Moon in March at Tanglewood, Double-Duty Radcliffe and Trash-Talking Player in Dan Sonenberg's The Summer King with Portland Ovations and American Opera Projects, lead tenor in Paul Bowles' zarzuela The Wind Remains at InCite Arts Festival, lead tenor in William Bolcom's Lucrezia at Boston University, Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette at Boston University, Monsieur Grivet in Tobias Picker's Thérèse Raquin at Boston University, Katz in Stephen Paulus' The Postman Always Rings Twice at Boston University, Remendado in Carmen with Opera North.

Awards: Tanglewood Music Center, Grace B. Jackson Prize; Orpheus Vocal Competition, Audience Choice Award and Bellini Award; Opera Institute at Boston University, Phyllis Curtin Artist Award; Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition, 2nd Prize (Junior Division)

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Orpheus (cover) in Orpheus in the Underworld, Parpignol in La Bohéme, Benvolio in Roméo and Juliet, Steuermann (cover) in The Flying Dutchman.

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Arthur Bosarge, Apprentice Coach

Hometown: Fairhope, AL

Where I studied: Mannes College (The New School for Music) (M.M); The University of Alabama (B.M)

Performance History: La Traviata, My Fair Lady, Street Scene at Opera North; Il viaggio a Reims at Mannes College; Godspell, Gypsy, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Theatre Tuscaloosa

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Music director and pianist for the Educational Outreach productions of A Trickster Trilogy and Little Red Riding Hood.

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Rachael Braunstein, mezzo soprano

Hometown: Ashland, MA

Where I studied: Manhattan School of Music, M.M.

Performance History: Suzuki (cover) in Madama Butterfly with Ash Lawn Opera, Hattie and Gladys in a workshop of the new American opera Roscoe with Seagle Music Colony’s Post-Season New Opera Workshop, The Witch in Humperdink’s Hänsel und Gretel and Mrs. Ott in Floyd’s Susannah at Seagle Music Colony, Flora in La Traviata with New York Opera Exchange, Anna Hope in Virgil Thompson’s The Mother of Us All with Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater, and Lucretia (cover) in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia with Ken Merrill’s Seminar at Manhattan School of Music. Concert performances with with Joan Tower’s Music Alive! series at Bard College Conservatory, and “Sur la route” performances with Orford Academy of the Arts in Québec.

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Mezzo Soprano Trickster in A Trickster Trilogy, Fall Education Outreach Tour.

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Evan Bravos, baritone

Hometown: St. Charles, IL

Where I studied: M.M. Northwestern University, B.M. Lawrence Conservatory

Performance History: Enrique cover, El Pasado Nunca se Termina (Lyric Opera of Chicago’s "Lyric Unlimited”, San Diego Opera); The Count, Le Nozze di Figaro, (Central City Opera, family matinee); Figaro, The Barber of Seville (Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Opera in the Neighborhoods); Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath (Northwestern University).

Awards: Metropolitan National Council Auditions, Illinois District, Encouragement Award, 2014; Apprentice Artist Award, Central City Opera, 2014; John F. Kennedy Center, Conservatory Project, featured baritone soloist, 2013

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Baritone role in the Education Outreach Production of A Trickster Trilogy; Gregorio and Paris Cover, Chorus in Romeo and Juliet.

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Keith Brown, bass-baritone

Hometown: Beavercreek, OH

Where I studied: Degrees: MM from University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music; other YAPs: Sarasota Opera (Studio Artist); Opera Saratoga (Apprentice)

Performance History: Myles Brodrib in Hanson’s Merry Mount at Carnegie Hall; Colline in La Bohème with Opera on the Avalon; Zuniga in Carmen with Finger Lakes Opera; the Emir of Ramla in Jérusalem and Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Sarasota Opera; Don Basilio in il Barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Circle (Cleveland); First Soldier in Salome, Grenvil in La traviata, Bob Becket in HMS Pinafore, and Judge Turpin (cover) in Sweeney Todd at Virginia Opera.

Awards: 2013 Leo M. Rogers Award for Outstanding Apprentice Artist, Sarasota Opera

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Colline in La Bohème; the Duke of Verona and Frère Laurent (cover) in Roméo and Juliet (also at Opera Carolina); Mars/Morpheus in Orpheus in the Underworld.

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Joshua Conyers, baritone

Hometown: Chesapeake, VA

Where I studied: Governor’s School for the Arts (Norfolk, VA), UNC School of the Arts and Indiana University

Performance History: Mr. Conyers made his Santa Fe Opera debut as the Gypsy in Bizet’s Carmen. At the Santa Fe Opera, Mr. Conyers has covered the roles of Mr. Umeya in the American premiere of Huang Ruo’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, Morales in Bizet’s Carmen, Walt Whitman in the world premiere of Theodore Morrison's Oscar and the Marquis d'Obigny in Verdi’s La Traviata. He performed the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Martina Arroyo Foundation Prelude to Performance. Mr. Conyers performed the role of Giorgio Germont in Verdi's La Traviata, the title role in Verdi’s Falstaff, Marcello in Puccini’s La Bohème and Valentin in Gounod’s Faust at Indiana University Opera and Ballet Theater. Mr. Conyers performed Aeneas in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at the Indiana University Early Music Institute. Mr. Conyers covered the role of Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca at the Utah Festival Opera. Mr. Conyers made his Professional operatic debut as the Mandarin in Puccini’s Turandot at Piedmont Opera in Winston Salem, NC. He sang the roles of Falke in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, John Sorel in Menotti’s The Consul, The Vicar in Britten’s Albert Herring, Lord Guglielmo Cecil in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, Buonafede in Haydn’s Il mondo della luna, Henry Davis in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, Bob in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief, and the Devil Gate Keeper in Dvořák's The Devil and Kate at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute. Upcoming performances include the role of Ceprano and Rigoletto (cover) in Verdi’s Rigoletto with Piedmont Opera.

Awards: Metropolitan Opera National Council District Winner (2010,2011 and 2015) , MONC Regional Encouragement Award Winner, S. Livingston Mather Scholar Competition 1st Place Winner, the Charlotte Opera Guild Competition Winner, the Heffner/Williams Vocal Competition 1st place Winner, NATS Award Winner, Bland Competition Winner, and an Omega Psi Phi Competition Winner

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: The baritone role in the world premiere of Deep River: The Marian Anderson Journey.

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Leah de Gruyl, mezzo soprano

Hometown: Sutton, WV

Where I studied: University of Maryland and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

Performance History: Mother Marie in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Carmen in La tragedie de Carmen, Mother Goose in The Rake's Progress, Third Lady in The Magic Flute, mezzo soloist in Verdi's Requiem, John Adams' El Nino and Mahler's Symphony No. 3 and Das Lied von der Erde; as a Gerdine Young Artist at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: cover for Gertrude Stein in 27 and Kathy Hagen in Champion, as a Studio Artist at Sarasota Opera: cover for Eboli in Don Carlos, Kathleen O'Fallin in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's Morning Star at Cincinnati Opera, and mezzo soloist in Durufle's Requiem at Carnegie Hall, Carmen in Carmen at Rome Festival Opera.

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: As Juno in Orpheus in the Underworld and as Mary (cover) in The Flying Dutchman.

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Joe Eletto, baritone

Hometown: Manhasset, NY

Where I studied: Rice University (BM), The Juilliard School (MM), Caramoor Bel Canto, Ravinia Festival, Crested Butte Music Festival, SongFest, Aspen Music Festival and School, Houston Grand Opera's Young Artists Vocal Academy, Oberlin in Italy

Performance History: Malatesta (Don Pasquale; Crested Butte Music Festival), Junius (The Rape of Lucretia; The Juilliard School), Le Surintendant des Plaisirs (Cendrillon; The Juilliard School), Peter/Pilate/Judas (St. Matthew Passion; Juilliard415), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte; Oberlin in Italy), Judge 2/Police Captain (Volpone; Rice University). Soloist with Bard Music Festival for Schubert and His World and Chàvez and His World; soloist with NYFOS @ Juilliard and NYFOS Next; soloist with Caramoor Bel Canto, SongFest, and Aspen Music Festival and School.

Awards: Semifinalist, Joy in Singing; Encouragement Award, Opera Index; First Place, Classical Singer Magazine Auditions+ Competition, University Division; Second Place, Hal Leonard Vocal Competition, College/University Voices

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: John Styx (Cover) and chorus in Orpheus in the Underworld; Schaunard (Cover) and chorus in La Bohème; Baritone Role in the Educational Touring production of Little Red Riding Hood.

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Kelly Glyptis, soprano

Hometown: Manassas, VA

Where I studied: Indiana University M.M.

Performance History: Berta, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Atlanta Opera; Soprano Soloist, Verdi’s Requiem, Indiana University, Donna Elvira, Don Giovanni, Indiana Universtiy; Beatrice, A View From the Bridge, Indiana University; Les Miserables, Factory Girl/Featured Soloist, Cardinal Stage; Mrs. Nordstrom, A Little Night Music, Indiana University, Signora Nacarelli, The Light in the Piazza, Indiana University, Prince Orlofsky, Die Fledermaus, Indiana University; Third Lady, Die Zauberflöte, Indiana University; Cleo, The Most Happy Fella, Indiana University.

Awards: Metropolitan National Council Auditions 1st Place IN District 2012/2013, Encouragement Award D.C. District 2014 and Chicago Region 2013. Indianapolis Matinee Musicale 3rd Place 2013. Greek Women’s University Club 1st Place 2011. Dean’s Music Scholarship, Christ-Marchant Friends of Music Award, Music Merit Scholarship, Tuesday Musicale Award (Bloomington).

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Cupid in Orpheus in the Underworld, Mimi (cover) in La Bohème, and Little Red Riding Hood in the Education Outreach Tour.

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Molly Jane Hill, mezzo-soprano

Hometown: Centennial, CO

Where I studied: Oklahoma City University, BM; San Francisco Conservatory of Music, MM

Performance History: Molly spent this past summer with Central City Opera where she sang Flora in La Traviata and Houskeeper in the Man of La Mancha. Also in 2015 she performed as Eunice Hubbell in A Streetcar Named Desire (Opera Santa Barbara), and as Maddalena in Rigoletto (Livermore Valley Opera). Summer of 2014 she sang Marcellina (Family Matinee) in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Sister Lillianne/Mrs. DeRocher (cover) in Dead Man Walking as a Bonfils-Stanton Apprentice Artist with Central City Opera. She recently earned her master’s degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she performed the roles of Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti, and Ottavia in L’incoronazione di Poppea. She will return to SFCM in 2016 to perform the Wesendonck Lieder with the Conservatory Orchestra, after winning the 2015 Concerto Competition. Her training includes a MM from San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Mosher Studio Artist (Opera Santa Barbara), Bonfils-Stanton Apprentice Artist (Central City Opera), and I Sing Beijing.

Awards: Young Artist Award, Pasadena Opera Guild; 1st place, East Bay Opera League; 1st place, SFCM Concerto Competition; Dorsey Family Award, Central City Opera

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Singing Venus in Orpheus in the Underworld; singing the mezzo-soprano role in the Education Outreach tour of Little Red Riding Hood.

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Andrew McLaughlin, baritone

Hometown: Washington, DC

Where I studied: West Chester University, West Chester PA (BM: Voice Performance, 2009); University of Maryland, College Park, MD (MM: Opera Performance, 2011)

Performance History: Brian Young in An American Soldier, Rex in An American Man, the Doganiere in La Bohème and the Spanish Sailor in Moby Dick at Washington National Opera. Roles in the premieres of Robert Patterson and Mark Campbells’ The Whole Truth (Urban Arias), Janice Hamer’s Lost Childhood (National Philharmonic Orchestra), Claude Debussy/Robert Orledge’s La Saulaie (University of Maryland Repertory Orchestra) and Frank Proto’s Shadowboxer (Maryland Opera Studio).

Awards: Apprentice Artist Award (Memory of Joshua Psuik), Central City Opera, 2011; Joy in Singing Award, Semi-Finalist, 2011; Annapolis Opera Vocal Competition, Semi-Finalist, 2010

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Schaunard in La Bohème; singing Gregorio and Mercutio (Cover) in Romeo and Juliet

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Danielle Messina, soprano

Hometown: Poughkeepsie, NY

Where I studied: Anthony (cover) in Sweeney Todd, performances of Bill Bobstay and Cpt. Corcoran in HMS Pinafore at Virginia Opera; Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas at Opera Saratoga; Frog Footman/Seven in Alice in Wonderland at Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

Performance History: Ms. Messina recently finished her second season as a Studio Artist with Kentucky Opera, during which she performed the role of Lizzy Holmes in Daron Hagen’s A Woman in Morocco, and the leading role of Margarita Xirgu in Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, which she performed with the Lexington Symphony.

Awards: Third Prize, Mildred Miller International Voice Competition, 2013; Second Prize, Student Division, Orpheus Vocal Competition, 2011

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Education Outreach Tour of A Trickster Trilogy, Juliet (cover) in Romeo and Juliet

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Brian Mextorf, baritone

Hometown: Williamsport, PA

Where I studied: Oberlin Conservatory, Bachelor of Music; Westminster Choir College, Master of Music; Opera Theatre of St. Louis; CoOPERAtive Program

Performance History: Anthony (cover) in Sweeney Todd, performances of Bill Bobstay and Cpt. Corcoran in HMS Pinafore at Virginia Opera; Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas at Opera Saratoga; Frog Footman/Seven in Alice in Wonderland at Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Awards: Winner, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, North Carolina District; 2nd place, MONCA, Southeast Region

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: John Styx in Orpheus in the Underworld; Marcello (cover) in La Bohème; Paris in Romeo and Juliet.

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Trevor Neal, baritone

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Where I studied: University of North Texas- Bachelor of Music

Performance History: Ash Lawn Opera- Bonzo in Madame Butterfly, Alfred Doolittle(cover) My Fair Lady; Sarasota Opera Apprentice Artist- Scarpia(cover) Tosca, Opera North Young Artist- Henry Davis in Street Scene, The Commissary in La Traviata, Germont(cover) La Traviata. Dallas Opera- Moby Dick World Premiere.

Awards: Jensen Foundation Career Grant, NATS Texoma Region Winner

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Mars(cover) Orpheus in the Underworld, Colline (cover) La bohème, Duke of Mantua (cover) Romeo and Juliet, Dutchman (cover) The Flying Dutchman.

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Rachelle Pike, mezzo-soprano

Hometown: Christchurch, New Zealand

Where I studied: University of Canterbury(BM) and Manhattan School of Music(MM)

Performance History: Tisbe (La Cenerentola), Flora (La Traviata), Hansel cover (Hansel and Gretel), Alice cover (Lucia Di Lammermoor), Marthe (Faust) at New Zealand Opera; Eva cover (Comedy on the Bridge), Solo Quartet (Baden Baden); 1927, Gotham Chamber Opera; Auntie (Peter Grimes), Dame Quickly cover (Falstaff), at Chautauqua Opera; Countess Ceprano/Giovanna and Maddellena cover (Rigoletto) at Opera Santa Barbara; Priyamvada cover (Sakuntala) at Theatro Grattacielo; Leocadia Begbick (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny), Samira (Ghost of Versailles), Candelas (El amor brujo) at Manhattan School of Music Opera Theatre; 2nd Maid (Elektra) at Auckland Philharmonic; Third Lady (Magic Flute), Mercedes (Carmen) at Southern Opera.

Awards: Freemasons New Zealand Opera Young Artist 2014, Chautauqua Apprentice Artist 2013

Where to find me at the Virginia Oopera this year: Singing the role of Mary in the Flying Dutchman.

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Katherine Polit, soprano

Hometown: Hudson, OH and Bradenton, FL

Where I studied: Indiana University, The University of Texas at Austin and Carnegie Mellon University – Apprenticeships include: Ash Lawn Opera, the Bay View Music Festival, Sugar Creek Opera, and Opera in the Ozarks

Performance History: Most recent roles include: Rose Maybud in Ruddigore and Fiona in Brigadoon with the Ohio Light Opera; Queen Cindy in Virginia Opera’s The Princess and the Pea; Covered Johanna in Sweeney Todd and Josephine in HMS Pinafore with Virginia Opera; Nannetta in Falstaff and Despina in Così fan tutte at Indiana University

Awards: Winner of the Adrian Boyer Aria Competition at the Bay View Music Festival and Indiana University’s Friends of Music Travel Grant

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Diana in Orpheus in the Underworld and covering Musetta in La Bohème

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Kyle Tomlin, tenor

Hometown: Stroudsburg, PA

Where I studied: Pennsylvania State University, University of Michigan

Performance History: Fenton, Merry Wives of Windsor- Fargo-Moorhead Opera; Almaviva Cover, Il barbiere di Siviglia- St. Petersburg Opera; Apprentice Artist- Ash Lawn Opera; Gate City Bank Young Artist- Fargo-Moorhead Opera; Resident Opera Artist- Pine Mountain Music Festival

Where to find me at Virginia Opera this year: Mercury in Orpheus in the Underworld, Rodolfo (cover) in La Bohème, Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet.