Jessica Ann Best, sponsored by Julia and Wesley Krulic
Jessica Ann Best is a versatile artist, known for her dramatic interpretation and an easy, beautiful sound that crosses the operatic, musical theater, and concert stage. Ms. Best debuts Gordon Getty’s The Canterville Ghost and Usher House with LA OPERA in June 2018. Best has recorded the new opera, Jane Eyre, on the Naxos label by composer Louis Karchin anddebuted International Carol Suites by Mark Hayes, a DCINY production at Carnegie Hall. Best premiered the role of Alice Ryley, by Michael Ching, with the Savannah Voice Festival. Best is a returning artist, teacher, and director at the Savannah Voice Festival Recently, Ms. Best is touring with Velvet Caravan; an award-winning, cross-discipline gypsy-jazz ensemble. Best has been a featured artist with The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, The Florida Orchestra, and The Rochester Oratorio Society. She has performed with The Santa Fe Opera, Opera Tampa, The Center for Contemporary Opera, Gotham Chamber Opera, Nickel City Opera, and Finger Lakes Opera. For more information, please visit: www.jessicaannbest.com.
Emily Yocum Black, sponsored by Daniel C. Cohen
American Traditions Competition Milnes Opera Award winner EmilyYocum Black has found success in multiple genres of vocal music. In the operatic realm, she has performed roles such as Pamina in The Magic Flute(2016), Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief (2015), and Silverpeal in The Impresario (2015). She was an Apprentice Studio Artist of Kentucky Opera (2016-2017) where she participated in outreach events and sang in the chorus of main stage performances. She has also enjoyed success in oratorio including annual performances of Handel’s Messiah and attending the Bach Cantata Institute at SongFest as a featured soloist under the direction of John Harbison (2017). Competitions include First Prize at the University of Louisville Aria Competition (2016) and Grand Prize at the Kentucky Bach Choir Audrey Rooney Vocal Competition (2016). Emily currently resides in Paducah, KY with her husband and maintains her private voice studio, Atomic City Voice Studio, as well as teaching voice lessons in area public schools.
Sean Christensen, sponsored by Kathie & Les Anderson
Sean Christensen has been recognized as a tenor with a full, warm, and lyrical timbre, steadily establishing himself professionally in New York City. He has recently appeared as Itulbo in Caramoor Opera’s production of Bellini’s Il pirata, Le Chevalier de la Force in Sarasota Opera’s production of Les dialogues des Carmélites, Des Grieux in Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble’s production of Manon, Fernando in Bare Opera’s production of Granados’ Goyescas, as well as Don Ottavio in Opera in Williamsburg’s production of Don Giovanni. Other recent performances include Azael in Bare Opera’s production of Ravel’s L’enfantprodigue, Gastone in Long Island Opera’s La traviata, as Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera in Williamsburg, as well as Tamino in The Magic Flute with the Metropolitan Opera Guild. He was a young artist at Caramoor Opera in 2017 and 2016, where he performed as Oraspe in Aureliano in Palmira. He was an studio artist at Sarasota Opera in 2017 and 2016, where he covered the role of Jaquino in Fidelio, and was awarded the Leo M. Rodgers for Outstanding Apprentice Artist. He was also a studio artist at Chautauqua Opera in 2015, and has performed as a soloist with the American Symphonic Orchestra and with the Mannes Opera. Read More
Mr. Christensen earned a bachelor’s degree in music with a focus on singing at Bard College (’11) and received a master’s degree in music at Mannes College in Manhattan (’14). Awarded the Margaret Creal Shafer Prize in Performance and the Dr. Richard M. Siegel Memorial prize for Music as recognition of his talent, both at Bard College, Mr. Christensen has given several recitals at Bard and Mannes, with repertoire focusing on Strauss, Duparc, Tosti, Poulenc, and many others. He has sung under the baton of William Crutchfield, Victor DeRenzi, Jorge Parodi, Joseph Colaneri, James Bagwell, Leon Botstein, and Louis Burkot. He currently studies with Michael Chioldi.
Originally from Miami, Cuban-American soprano Ana Collado has been praised for performing with “dramatic projection, deft coloratura and variegated coloring” (South Florida Classical Review). Most recently, she won VOICExperience’s Opera Idol Award, the Judy Drucker 2018 Artist of the Year award and first place in the Florida district of the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
In years past, she has won the Encouragement Award at the Florida district MONC auditions twice and an Encouragement Award at the Meistersinger Competition in Graz, Austria. She was also the First place winner in the 4th year University level at the South Florida district NATS Student Auditions and received an Honorable Mention prize at the Schloss Mirabell Competition in Salzburg, Austria.
Ms. Collado completed her Master’s degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Miami, where she previously completed the Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance and earned the Outstanding Music Student of the Year award. She sang the roles of Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi and Nuria in Ainadamar with the Frost Opera Theater at the University of Miami.
William Desbiens, sponsored by Faanya Rose
William Desbiens is a young baritone in a long line of baritones (Wellie Desbiens and his father Michel Desbiens). He began singing at the age of sixteen and now, at the young age of twenty, possesses a voice of exquisite beauty and lyric-dramatic quality. In the days where baritones rarely ring with the true full-bodied chiaro scuro, William’s ringing, warm timbered baritone reminds us of the Zancanaro days.Read More
Starting in the fall of 2017 Desbiens has been studying at Mannes School of Music (The new School) under the tutelage of voice teacher Mr. Arthur Levy. Previously he was at the Cegep de Ste-Foy, in Quebec City with Mrs. Danielle Demers. William Desbiens has been chosen to perform at one of the Mannes music festival events next November in the Concert “Mannes Sounds Festival at All Souls Church.” He will perform The Prophet for baritone from the young Mannes alumni composer Stanislav Fridman, a contemporary Russian composer, and an excerpt of the “Prorok” written by Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin. In February 2016 Desbeins won first place of a singing contest held in Quebec City called the “Concours de la relève musicale de Québec.” In March of the 2016, he won the first place of the national vocal competition of New York Lyric Opera Theater in New York (High School Division). His winner’s performance took place in April 2016 at Symphony Space on Broadway. William held his first main role as Ange Pitou in the operetta La fille de Mme Angôt by Charles Lecocq.
In July 2016, he performed the role of the Conte di Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart, with the Narni International Vocal Arts Program held in Narni, Italy with Maestro Lorenzo Porzio Principal Conductor of the Orchestra Filarmonica di Roma.
In February 2017, The Lyric Opera Studio Weimar granted him a scholarship to sing the role of Dandini in La Cenerentola by Rossini in Weimar (Germany) from January 21 to February 19, 2017 under the direction of Damon Nestor Ploumis.
Jessica Fishenfeld, sponsored by Toby Hollenberg
American Soprano Jessica Fishenfeld, hailed for her “engaging” performances (Opera News) and “soaring, glittering high notes” (EDGEftlauderdale), makes her New York City Opera debut this season as Leah in the World Premiere of Stonewall. She recently won a Semi-Finalist Prize in the 2019 Lotte Lenya Competition, starred in the World Premiere of Love Sick at National Sawdust, debuted with On Site Opera as Mrs. Mouse in Shostakovich’s The Tale of the Silly Baby Mouse, and was a Featured Soloist at Carnegie/Zankel Hall. Since her residency with Palm Beach Opera, where she sang the roles of Norina (Don Pasquale), Mabel (The Pirates of Penzance), Najade (Ariade auf Naxos), and covered Gilda (Rigoletto), she made her Carnegie/Zankel Hall debut as Soloist with The Manhattan Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, appeared with both the Helena Symphony and Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony in Bernstein 100!, sang with international orchestras at St. Bart’s Music Festival and Orquesta Filarmonía de Xalapa, created the role of Kim in Big Jim & the Small-Time Investors(Gramercy Opera), sang May Fielding in the North American premiere of Il grillo del focolare (Teatro Grattacielo), and was the recipient of the 2017 Career Bridges Encouragement Grant. She returns to the Savannah VOICE Festival as a resident Festival Artist this summer, and opens the 2019/20 season as Soprano Soloist in Carmina Burana with the Helena Symphony.
Natalie Rose Havens, sponsored by John & Jean Fishburne
Natalie Rose Havens, Mezzo-soprano, was most recently seen this summer as the Mezzo in Philip Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox with Chautauqua Opera. Recent roles have included Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana with Martha Cardona Opera in New York City’s Merkin Hall. Natalie has also been seen as The Marquise of Berkenfield in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment with Opera North. Other roles include the Old Prioress in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites with UNCG Opera, the title role in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier with Harrower Opera, Miss Todd in Menotti’s Old Maid and the Thief, Harriett in The Clever Artifice of Harriett and Margaret (Scenes Competition Winner for National Opera Association), Scribe/Maria Magdalena in Phillip Glass’s Galileo Galilei, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!, and Marian Paroo in The Music Man. She obtains a Bachelor’s degree from The Florida State University and a Masters degree from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She currently resides in New York City.
YUE HU, SPONSORED BY TOBY HOLLENBERG
Yue Hu is a mezzo-soprano from China. She is currently a postgraduate student at the Central Conservatory of Music. Her energetic performances, full of energy and charisma, feature excellent dramatic tension. Her voice is bright and mellow, full and penetrating, with rich musical expression. She has sung leading roles in original opera works by the China National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing.
Suzanne Kantorski is an award-winning classical singer and one of today’s most versatile performing artists. Praised by the New York Times for her “lively and engaging work,” Ms. Kantorski is enjoying a career that spans multiple genres and platforms.
With a passion for New Opera, Ms. Kantorski regularly debuts compositions for companies worldwide. Recently, her portrayal of Euridice, of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus and Euridice was featured inside the Washington National Gallery of Art as part of an on-site opera series presented by The Vermont Opera Project.
Ms. Kantorski also made her Los Angeles debut in Disney Hall singing the principal role of Mary in the Operatic Tableaux, Oh My Son, by Spanish composer Marcos Galvany. She recorded the work in 2015 with the Washington National orchestra and chorus, and recurrently tours the production abroad.
Other notable new works include: Love Streams by Tim Hecker, at the Experimental Music Performing Arts Center in Troy, NY, and the soon to be released feature film The Bohemians, based on Puccini’s La Boheme. Ms. Kantorski stars as Mimi, with guest appearances by Placido Domingo and other opera luminaries. The film is slated for submission to major film festivals world wide in 2019.
Classical Opera productions this season also include: Nedda, with Opera Orlando and Savannah Opera, as well as Tosca, with The Opera Company of Middlebury.
Takaki Kurihara was born in Toyama Prefecture, Japan. He entered a vocal course at Tokyo University of the Arts in 2011. Upon graduation in 2015, he entered the graduate opera major at Tokyo University of the Arts. While studying abroad, Mr. Kurihara performed roles in ”Don Pasquale” (Malatesta), “Magic Flute” (Papageno), “Cosi Fan Tutte” (Guglielmo), “Marriage Figaro” (Count of Armaviva) and ”The Barber of Seville” (Figaro). He is the recipient of the 35th Soleil Music Competition Excellence Award and the 47th Concorso di Lirica Italiana Milano Grand Prize.
Peter Lake, sponsored by Linda & Michael Zoller
Peter Lake just finished performing as a Resident Artist for Opera North in his role and house debut as Paris in La belle Hélène. Last summer Peter worked as a young artist at Central City Opera where he won the 2016 Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Award. In the fall he travelled to Virginia Opera as a Herndon Foundation Young Artist where he covered Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. During the spring of 2017 along with multiple concert engagements Peter performed the Duke in Mississippi Opera’s youth/cover performance of Rigoletto. In May he made his role debut as Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Natchez Festival of Music. Other notable roles for Peter include: Spoletta in Tosca and Vogelsang in The Impresario with Central City Opera, Remendado (José cover/youth performance) in Carmen with Mississippi Opera, and Triquet in Eugene Onegin with Chautauqua Opera.
Ting Li, sponsored by John & Jean Fishburne
Ting Li, Tenor, is from Zhejiang Province, China. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music where he studied with Professor Bo Song. In 2016, he received a master of music degree from the Yale School of Music where he studied with Professor Richard Cross. He is currently attending at the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University as a first year P.D. student, under the guidance of the legendary soprano Carol Vaness.
Ting has performed as leading tenor role in major opera productions, including Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Tamino in Die Zauberflüte, Lysander in Midsummer nights dream; Rinuccio/Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi; Young Gypsy in Aleko; Guillot in Manon; Alfredo/Gastone/Guiseppe in La Traviata; Don Curzio in La Nozze di Figaro. Ting continued to perform main role in opera scene performances, including Rigoletto; Il Travatore; Adriana Lecouvreur; Romèo et Julliet; Les Contes d’Hoffmann; L’elisir d’amore; Così fan tutte; Barber of Seville; Die Fledemaus; Hamlet; and West Side Story.
He was invited by Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) as one of the soloist to perform at the world renowned Carnegie Hall. In 2014, Ting sang Handel’s Messiah for his debut with the Hartford City Symphony Orchestra.
JoAnna Pope, sponsored by Julia and Wesley Krulic
JoAnna Pope, mezzo-soprano, is a recent Pi Kappa Lambda graduate of Boston University where she obtained her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance. Ms. Pope has been seen as Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro) with the Bay View Music Festival, Elizabeth Brigmann (Sweets by Kate) and Mrs. Bass (Emmeline) with the Boston Universtiy Opera Institute, Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus) and Miss Pinkerton (The Old Maid and the Thief) with the Mississippi College Opera Theater. JoAnna recently participated in the Sherrill Milnes VOICExperience program in Orlando, FL this past May as well as completed her first cultivation project as a 2018 Milnes VOICE Studio Artist in Savannah, GA in October. JoAnna is looking forward to recreating the role of Prince Orlofsky in Worcester Schubertiade’s production of Die Fledermaus in Worcester, MA this December. JoAnna is a student of Mark Schnaible.
Nan Qin, sponsored by Ron and Peg Morris
Nan Qin, bass-baritone, is a native of Yucheng city, Shandong Province, China. Mr. Qin got his Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from University of North Texas, where he performed the roles of Balli in Werther, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Capulet in Romeo et Juliette, Devin in Le Devin du Village, and Pandolfe in Cendrillon. He is the finalist of Classical Singer Competition and Lois Alba Aria competition.
Luis Quiros, sponsored by Middy Larson
Costa Rican baritone Luis Quiros is known for his beautiful voice, brilliant high notes and exceptional musical sensitivity. Quiros’ voice is well suited for the lyric baritone repertoire.
Demonstrating outstanding affinity for singing from a very young age, he made his professional debut at the age of 22 years old singing the role of Schaunard in Puccini’s “La Boheme” with Costa Rica’s National Opera Company (2016). Soon after, he was engaged to sing at a national level a variety of principal and secondary roles including: Melchor froms Menottis’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors” (2016), Antonio from Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” (2016), the principal baritone part in Orff’s Carmina Burana (2016), Ben from Menotti’s “The Telephone” (2017), and the title role and the role of Masetto in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” (2018). More recently Quiros won the first price in the II Central American Singing Contest and was invited to give a series of concerts in Sicily, Italy with the Erasmus Orchestra under the baton of Italian conductor Elio Orcioulo, marking his professional international concert debut.
Following an excellent performance as a Studio Artist in the Savannah Voice Festival, he was invited as Festival Artist to the 2018-2019 season of the same Festival, marking his professional concert debut in the United States.
Quiros is currently on his second year of his bachelor’s degree in the University of Costa Rica.
Scott Russell, sponsored by Kathie & Les Anderson
Scott Russell, bass, is from Roanoke, Va. and currently lives in New York City. Scott is enjoying a career ranging from opera and music theater to oratorio and church music at home and abroad. He is the recipient of many awards including the NYC district and regional winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Some recent credits include: Gianni Schicchi (Simone) with the Savannah Music Feststival; La bohème (Colline) with Savannah Philharmonic and V.O.I.C.Experience, Don Giovanni (Il Commendatore), Schwabacher Summer Concerts, and 2 Grand Finale concerts with Merola Opera program of San Francisco OperaRead More
Evelyn Saavedra returns to Pensacola Opera for the 2018- 2019 season to sing the role of Rosalba in Florencia en el Amazonas. As an Artist in Resident she was seen in the roles of Maria in Maria de Buenos Aires, Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and Antonia in Man of La Mancha, Young Alyce in Glory Denied, Sacerdotessa in Aïda and Sister Catherine in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, where she also covered the role of Kitty Hart. Other operatic credits include Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Rose in Street Scene, The Governess in The Turn of the Screw, and Agrippina in Agrippina. On the concert stage she has been featured in Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Handel’s Messiah, and Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music, as well as his Symphony No.3 with the Brevard Music Center Orchestra and the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra . Ms. Saavedra holds a Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance & Literature from the Eastman School of Music and a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance from Florida International University.
Daniel Scofield, sponsored by Julia and Wesley Krulic
Daniel Scofield, a native of Binghamton, NY, debuts with Annapolis Opera as Gideon/Dashwood, after. Earlier this season were performances as Schaunard with Phoenicia Festival of the Voice, Malatesta with Opera at Featherstone in Martha’s Vineyard and Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor with Pacific Opera Project. Later in 2017/2018 Daniel debuts as the title role in Rigoletto with Gulfshore Opera, and Marcello in La Boheme with Opera San Antonio, Germont with the Independent Opera and Hudson Opera Theater; and soloist in the Plano Symphony’s Carmina Burana.
Chad Sonka is quickly becoming a sought after American baritone. His most recent accomplishment is his First-Place win during the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In the Summer of 2016, he joined Central City Opera as an Apprentice Artist, covering Scarpia in Tosca. Previous performing credits: Gianni Schicchi (Marco) with Savannah Music Festival; Man of La Mancha (Don Quixote) and Carmen (Dancïro) with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre; The Mother of Us All (Virgil T.), The Rape of Lucretia (Junius), Faust (Wagner), Elijah (Elijah) with Manhattan School of Music, and Amahl and the Night Visitors (King Melchior) with Nevada Opera. Mr. Sonka has been a chosen participant of Dolora Zajick’s Institute for Young Dramatic Voices, as well as Sherrill Milnes’ VOICE Programs for six years. He was also a featured bass soloist with the Cedar Rapids Concert Chorale and Oneota Valley Community Orchestra. Chad is also an active voice teacher and currently serves on faculty at Iowa State University.
Matt Vickers, sponsored by John & Jean Fishburne
American tenor Matthew Vickers has been praised for his “brilliant and golden voice” (Die Kleine Zeitung), his “burnished sound and confident acting” (National Post), and hailed as “a gutsy performer whose glowing tenor voice has interestingly dark, baritonal undertones (Opera Now).
The 2017-18 season included his debut as Arnold in Guillaume Tell with Opera Southwest as well as returns to Opera Western Reserve as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Sarasota Opera as Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut, Opera Roanoke as Rodolfo in La bohème, and Opera Delaware as Luigi in Il tabarro. In the 2018-2019 season and beyond, Mr. Vickers performs the role of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Opera Memphis, is in concert with Sarasota Opera, debuts with the Macerata Festival as Malcolm in Macbeth, and sings roles in Pagliacci, Rigoletto, and Carmen.
Jonathan Walker-VanKuren, sponsored by Linda Benware
Praised for his “verismo” voice, tenor Jonathan Walker-VanKuren has enjoyed a successful career both on and off the operatic stage performing works of the jazz, musical theatre, art song, and opera repertoires. His operatic performances include appearances as Martin in The Tender Land, Reverend Eager in A Room With a View, Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro, and most recently covering the role of Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon and performing the role of Donald Hopewell in Douglas Moore’s Gallantry. Mr. Walker-VanKuren will spend his summer as a Festival Artist with Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre performing a myriad of operatic and musical roles. He will also return for a second year to the Savannah VOICE Festival where he will be a Sherrill Milnes Studio Artist performing the role of Giuseppe in their upcoming production of La Traviata.
Mr. Walker-VanKuren holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Music degree from Michigan State University. He is also an alum of the Chrisman Studio Artist Program with Opera Santa Barbara. During the 2018-2019 season Mr. Walker-VanKuren will be joining Fort Worth Opera as a Hattie Mae Lesley Apprentice Artist.
James Wright, sponsored by Ron and Peg Morris
Described by critics as “tremendous,” “entertaining” and “strong-voiced,” baritone James Wright is a favorite among audiences for his charismatic presence and warm baritone. This season, James will sing Larry in Masquerade with Shreveport Opera, Silvio in i Pagliacciwith Opera Orlando and Savannah Opera, Figaro in il Barbiere di Siviglia with Gulf Coast Symphony, and Dancaïro with the Buffalo Philharmonic. Recent roles include Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Sir Lancelot in Camelot, Ravenal in Showboat. He has appeared in several events with the Savannah Voice Festival such as The Telephone, Alice Ryley, il Barbiere di Siviglia, Roméo et Juliette and many concerts.
He has appeared with Nickel City Opera, Amarillo Opera, Mobile Opera, Shreveport Opera, Opera Orlando, Hillman Opera, Sarasota Opera, Palm Beach Opera, El Paso Opera, Nickel City Opera, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Divaria Productions, Rochester Lyric Opera, the Natchez Festival of Music, The Amherst Symphony Orchestra and others.
Nicholas Yaquinto, sponsored by Callie and Helen Downing
Nicholas Giovanni Yaquinto is an American singer praised for his strong stage presence and charismatic voice. 2018 summer engagements include residency with Opera Saratoga, performing Assan in The Consule, Baron Zeta in The Merry Widow, and Prince Gabriel in the world premiere of David Little’s Vinkensport. Mr. Yaquinto is returning to The Savannah VOICE Festival for his second year, performing in various concerts throughout the season. In his debut year with the Savannah VOICE experience he performed the role of Fiorello in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Mr. Yaquinto is currently enrolled in his Master’s Degree at Florida State University. Recent engagements include The Wolf in Florida State University Opera’s educational outreach tour of Little Red Riding Hood, Voltaire/ Pangloss/ Martin/ Cacambo in Florida State Opera’s production of Candide, and Il Conte Almaviva in Prague Summer Night’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro. Since receiving his BMA from Georgia State University in May of 2015 Mr. Yaquinto was named a winner of the 2015 Atlanta District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, performed as a featured soloist with the Atlanta Symphony, and made his professional debut at the Atlanta Opera as Paris in Roméo et Juliette.