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Virginia Opera Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists 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 Artists 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 Artists Program receives over 650 applicants annually for an average of 12-20 artist contracts. Led by Shelby Rhoades, Virginia Opera Principal Coach and Director of the Emerging Artists Program, Emerging Artists appear in Virginia Opera mainstage productions, tour in fully-staged educational programs, and perform in recitals, donor events, and the VO Master Teacher Series. In addition, Emerging Artists receive regular coachings with VO’s artistic staff, including Adam Turner, Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, as well as guest conductors and mainstage artists. Recent alumni of the Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists Program include: Megan Marino, David Blalock, Courtney Miller, David Pershall, Brian Jagde, Jeni Houser, Shannon Jennings-Holman, and Nathan Stark.

2017-2018 Application & Audition Information

All auditions will be held in New York City. 

Preliminary auditions will be December 5-7, 2016, with one day of call-backs on December 8, 2016.

Please contact Anne-Carolyn Bird at ac.bird@vaopera.org  with questions.

Emerging Artists

Please submit an application via YapTracker by October 26, 2016.

You will need to include a headshot and resume, as well as list three (3) references and five (5) repertoire selections.

There is a $40 nonrefundable application fee.

Apprentice Coaches 

Please send your resume and a cover letter via e-mail to Anne-Carolyn Bird at ac.bird@vaopera.org .  We would also welcome an MP3 or video of your playing.

If granted an audition, please prepare a Mozart finale of your choice from either Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni or Le nozze di Figaro. Applicants will also be asked to play and sing the three arias listed below, to display varied levels of style, facility, and understanding of accompagnato recitative:

"No word from Tom" from The Rake’s Progress
"Sein wir wieder gut" from Ariadne auf Naxos
"Hai già la vinta la causa" from Le nozze di Figaro


The Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists Program provides exceptionally talented 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.  The Program offers significant opportunities for professional growth for those truly committed to the field of opera.

Performance Opportunities

Virginia Opera's Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists perform leading and comprimario roles and/or cover leading roles in the company's mainstage productions. Further, some Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists perform leading roles in fully-staged Education and Community Outreach productions, touring schools throughout the state of Virginia. Community concerts and company promotional events offer artists the opportunity to perform standard arias and ensembles in concerts with piano. In addition, Virginia Opera has a rich history of re-engaging Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists for mainstage productions in future seasons

Study Opportunities

Each participant receives regular coachings with members of Virginia Opera's Artistic Staff, which include Principal Conductor Adam Turner, Principal Coach Shelby Rhoades, and various guest conductors, directors, and mainstage singers. Masterclasses are held throughout the season covering topics such as résumé preparation, career management, auditioning techniques, stagecraft, and foreign languages.

Apprentice Coaches

Education and Community Outreach Performance Opportunities

Apprentice Coaches must serve as musical directors and pianists for Education and Community Outreach productions, including selected evenings of Arias & Duets. Coaches learn the basics of artistic administration and company management by serving as tour managers for VO’s statewide touring educational programs. 

Study Opportunities

Each participant receives coachings from Principal Conductor Adam Turner and Principal Coach Shelby Rhoades. 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.

Stephan Barner 

Stefan Barner, tenor

Hometown:     Oskaloosa, IA

Education:      Simpson College, BM
University of Tennessee, MM
Glimmerglass Festival
Nashville Opera Young Artist

Awards: 1st Place Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions - East Tennessee District
2nd Place Baru Atlanta Competition
3rd Place MetroWest Opera Competition

Performance History: Frank Shallard, Elmer Gantry, Tulsa Opera
Tenor, Hydrogen Jukebox, Nashville Opera
Faust, Faust, Boston Opera Collaborative
Tybalt, Romeo et Juliette, Tulsa Opera
Jay Gatsby, The Great Gatsby, Tulsa Opera Studio

This season at VO: I pagliacci, Beppe; The Seven Deadly Sins, Brother/2nd Tenor



Chelsea Basler, Soprano


Hometown: Boston, MA

Education: New England Conservatory, MM
Boston University, BM

Awards: Shoshana Foundation Grant Winner
Kahn Award Winner
First Place Peter Elvins Vocal Competition

Performance History: Susannah, Susannah, Pasadena Opera
Valencienne, The Merry Widow, Boston Lyric Opera
Susanna, Le nozze di Figaro, Opera Saratoga
Micaela, Carmen, Boston Lyric Opera
Sara, Cold Mountain, Santa Fe Opera

This season at VO: Turandot, Liu (cover), chorus

Nicholas Boragno, bass-baritone


Hometown: Newport Beach, CA

Education: Manhattan School of Music, BM

Awards: Henry and Maria Holt Memorial Competition, West Bay Opera, 1st Place
Los Angeles Opera Buffs, Grant Winner

Performance History: Scenes as Nick Shadow in the Rake's Progress
Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola
Elviro in Serse and Waldner in Arabella at Merola Opera Program, San Francisco
Leporello in Don Giovanni at University of Alabama Opera Theatre
Giorgio in Nina, o sia la pazza per amore at Manhattan School of Music
The Captain in Eugene Onegin and First Apparition in Macbeth at Chautauqua Opera Company


This season at VO: Der Freischütz, covering Kuno, The Hermit, and Samiel, chorus

650 rachaelbraunsteinheadshot



Rachael Braunstein, mezzo-soprano


Hometown:     Ashland, Massachusetts

Education:      Manhattan School of Music
Chautauqua Opera Apprenticeship
Ash Lawn Opera Young Artist
Seagle Music Colony

Performance History: Pitti Sing, The Mikado
Flora, La Traviata
Suzuki, Madama Butterfly
Witch and Mother, Hänsel and Gretel
Anna Hope, The Mother of Us All


This season at VO: Der Freischütz, Agathe (cover)


bille bruley


Bille Bruley, tenor


Hometown:    Montgomery, TX


Education:     Indiana University, MM
Baylor University, BM
The Glimmerglass Festival
Central City Opera


Awards:    Central City Opera Iris Henwood Richards Memorial Award
MONC National Semi-Finalist
Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition Finalist
Lois Alba Aria Competition Award Winner

Performance History:  Giles Corey, The Crucible, The Glimmerglass Festival
Beadle Bamford, Sweeney Todd, The Glimmerglass Festival
Ferrando, Così fan tutte, Indiana University
Eisenstein., Die Fledermaus, Indiana University
The Tempter, The Prodigal Son, Central City Opera

This season at VO:  The Seven Deadly Sins, Tenor/Brother



Michael Colman, bass

Hometown:  Kansas City, KS

Education:  BM Baylor University
MM University of Kansas
Lyric Opera of Kansas City Apprentice Artist
Ash Lawn Opera Young Artist

Awards:     Grand Prize, Kstin Lewis Foundation Competition
1st Prize,Kansas City Music Clubs Competition
Raimondi Scholarship Award - Casa Italia Vocal Competition

Past Highlights:  Young Artist Cover Performance of Alfonso (Cosi fan tutte) - Ash Lawn Opera
In concert with Sherrill Milnes - Savannah Voice Festival
Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) - University of Kansas Opera
The Judge (Trial by Jury) - University of Kansas Opera
Leporello (Don Giovanni) - Janiec Opera Company Brevard

This Season at VO:  The Seven Deadly Sins, Mother (cover)
Il barbiere di Siviglia, Basilio (cover)
Wolf, The Three Little Pigs (Education Tour)

Raymon Geis Headshot

Raymon Geis, tenor

Hometown:     Boistfort, WA

Education:      Saint Martin's University, BM
Westminster Choir College, MM

Awards: 3rd Place Lyra New York International Voice Competition 2016

Performance History: Florestan (cover), Fidelio, Sarasota Opera
Beadle Bamford, Sweeney Todd, Opera on the Avalon
Idomeneo, Idomeneo, Princeton Opera Alliance
Thibault, Les vepres siciliennes, Caramoor Music Festival

This season at VODer Freischütz, Max (cover)



Molly Hill, mezzo-soprano


Hometown:  Centennial, CO


Education:  San Francisco Conservatory of Music, MM
Oklahoma City University, BM
Glimmerglass Festival, Young Artist 
Central City Opera, Apprentice Artist

Encouragement Award(2016), Western Region Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions
Winner(2016), LA District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions
Young Artist Award Winner (2015), Pasadena Opera Guild
1st Place (2015), SFCM Concerto Competition

Performance History: Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd, Glimmerglass Festival
Susanna Walcott, The Crucible, Glimmerglass Festival 
Flora, La Traviata, Central City Opera
Maddalena, Rigoletto, Livermoore Valley Opera
Eunice Hubbell, A Streetcar Named Desire, Opera Santa Barbara 

Previously at VO?: Venus, Orpheus in the Underworld
Grandma, Little Red Riding Hood (Education Tour) 

This season at VO:  The Seven Deadly Sins, Anna (cover)


Peter Lake, tenor

Hometown:  Budapest, Hungary 


Education:  The University of Southern Mississippi, MM
The University of Mobile, BM

Awards: Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Encouragement Award, New Orleans District
2nd place NATSAA Competition, Mobile District 


Performance History:  Spoletta,Tosca, Central City Opera
Vogelsang, The Impresario, Central City Opera
Remendado and Don José (cover), Carmen, Mississippi Opera
Don José, Carmen, Southern Opera Company
Triquet, Eugene Onegin, Chautauqua Opera.


This season at VO: Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Count Almaviva (cover) 



 Christopher Morales headshot

Christopher Brandon Morales, bass-baritone

Hometown: San Antonio, TX

Education: Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
Texas State University

Performance History:  Bonzo, Madama Butterfly, Toledo Opera
Polyphemus, Acis and Galatea, Cincinnati Chamber Opera
Malatesta, Don Pasquale, San Antonio Opera Piccola
Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni, Opera in the Ozarks
Frank Maurrant in Street Scene at Texas State University

This season at VO:  The Seven Deadly Sins, Bass/Mother
Der Freischütz, Caspar (cover)
Turandot, Timur (cover)
Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Dr. Bartolo (cover)


 Trevor Neal Headshot

Trevor Neal, baritone

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Education: University of North Texas

Awards: Jensen Foundation Career Grant
Bill and Margot Winspear Opera Scholarship (UNT)

Performance History:  Scarpia (cover), ToscaOpera North
Dutchman (cover), The Flying DutchmanVirginia Opera
Bonzo, Madama Butterfly, Ash Lawn Opera
Germont (cover), La traviata, Opera North
African Sailor, Moby Dick, Dallas Opera

This season at VO:  Pagliacci, Tonio (cover)
Der Freischütz, Killian


 tatiana ogan

Tatiana Ogan, mezzo-soprano

Hometown: Fort Collins, CO

Education: Mannes, MM
University of Oklahoma, BM
Central City Opera
Chautauqua Opera

Awards: Career Bridges Foundation Grant Winner
Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation - Encouragement Award
Denver Lyric Opera Guild Competition - 2nd Place
John Moriarty Award - Central City Opera

Performance History: Later the Same Evening, Estelle, Central City Opera
Little Women, Jo March, Mannes Opera 
Flight, Minskwoman,Mannes Opera  
Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen (cover),Central City Opera
Il viaggio a Reims, Marchesa Melibea, Mannes Opera

This season at VO: Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rosina (cover) 

 Andrew Paulson

Andrew Paulson, Baritone

Hometown: Great Falls, VA

EducationB.M. Voice Performance Westminster Choir College
M.M. Voice Performance Florida State University
Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Artist 2015, 16
Sarasota Opera Studio Artist 2015-16


Awards: 3rd Place Denver Lyric Opera Guild
2nd Place Mobile Opera Competition 
4th Place Florida Suncoast Opera Guild 

Performance History:  Papageno Die Zauberflote Opera Colorado
Paul Jobs The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs Santa Fe Opera
Happy La Fanciulla del West Santa Fe Opera
Baritone Soloist Carmina Burana Delta State University
Clayton McAllister Cold Sassy Tree Sugar Creek Opera


This season at VO: Silvio cover Pagliacci
Brother cover Seven Deadly Sins
Figaro cover and student matinee performance Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Prince Ottokar Der Freischütz
Mandarin Turandot 



Molly Phelan


Molly Phelan, soprano

Hometown: Richmond, VA

EducationM.M. San Francisco Conservatory of Music, B.M. Lawrence University

Performance History:  Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro)
Lady with a Hand Mirror (Postcard from Morocco)
Lucy (The Telephone),
Elvira (L’italiana in Algeri)
Blonde (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Mendocino Music Festival

Awards: Metropolitan National Council Auditions, Encouragement Award, 2014
Voice Department Honors from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 2014.

This season at VO: Singing with the Education Outreach Tour of Tales from the Brothers Grimm




Christine Suits, Soprano

Hometown: Stuart, Florida 

Education:  Chapman University, Conservatory of Music
Private study with Virginia Zeani and Anthony Manoli

Performance History:   Der Fledermaus, Adele (cover), Ida, Vero Beach Opera

Dido and Aeneas, Belinda, Opera Saratoga
Radamisto, Fraarte, Manhattan Opera Studio
Die Zauberflöte, Pamina, Miami Summer Music Festival
Le Nozze di Figaro, Countess Almaviva, Opera on Tap SF 

Awards:  Marcello Giordani Foundation, Shay-Webster Award
Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Southeast Region Finalist
Irene Dalis Vocal Competition, Finalist

This season at VO:  Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Berta
Der Freischütz, Ännchen (cover) and chorus



Matthew Vickers, tenor

Hometown: Telford, PA

Education: Penn State University, MM
Lynchburg College, BA

Performance History: L’amico Fritz, Fritz, Boston Midsummer Opera
Amleto, Laertes, Opera Delaware
La Battaglia di Legnano, Arrigo, Sarasota Opera
La Boheme, Rodolfo, Penn State Opera
Cavalleria Rusticana, Turiddu, Minnesota Concert Opera

Awards: Third Prize, Annapolis Opera Vocal Competition
Encouragement Award, D.C. Region MONCA
Audience favorite award and Third Prize, AIMS Meistersinger Competition.

This season at VO: Pagliacci, Canio (cover) and chorus


katherine weber

Katherine Weber, Soprano

Hometown: Holmen, Wisconsin

Education: Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, MM
Viterbo University, BM


Awards: Bain Fellowship at Indiana University
Lew Cady Award at Central City Opera
District Winner at Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions

Performance History:  La Traviata, Violetta, Central City Opera
Die Zauberflöte, Pamina, Opera for the Young
The Merry Widow, Hanna Glawari, Indiana University
A View from the Bridge, Catherine, Indiana University
Suor Angelica, Suor Genovieffe, Indiana University

This season at VO: Pagliacci, Nedda (cover) and chorus


brian yeakley 

Brian Yeakley, tenor

Hometown: Wichita, KS

Education:  University of Houston, MM
Wichita State University, BM
Wolf Trap Studio
Glimmerglass Opera Festival
Opera Saratoga

Awards:  MONC - Houston District Encouragement Award
Sam Ramey Development Fund

Performance History:  Don Luigino/Gelsomino, Il Viaggio a Reims, Wolf Trap Opera
Brighella, Ariadne auf Naxos, Glimmerglass Opera Festival
Prince Ilo, Zelmira, West Edge Opera
The Swan, Carmina Burana, Victory Symphony
Premiered Figure/Jesse Bolls/Dr Seip, The Wings They Were, Houston Grand Opera's HGOco

This season at VO: Pagliacci, Beppe (cover) and chorus
The Seven Deadly Sins, Tenor 2/Brother 2 (cover)
Turandot, Pang and Pong (covers)


Olivia Yokers


Olivia Yokers, soprano


Hometown: Hamilton, OH

Education: Indiana University, MM
Indiana University, BM
Ash Lawn Opera Apprentice Artist

Awards: Cincinnati Opera Idol (winner)
Dayton Opera Guild Competition (first place)
Indianapolis Matinee Musicale Colligate Competition (first place)

Performance History: Josephine, HMS Pinafore, Indiana University Opera Theatre
Sardula, The Last Savage, Indiana University Opera Theatre
Laurey, Oklahoma!, Indiana University Opera Theatre
Daughter, Ahknaten, Indiana University Opera Theatre

This season at VO: The Barber of Seville, Berta (cover)
Spring E
ducation Production (The Three Little Pigs)