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Opera Roanoke’s premiere Apprentice Artist Program was founded by Artistic Director Scott Williamson in 2011 with the company’s acclaimed production of Madama Butterfly. Amy Cofield, acclaimed soprano and teacher, directed the program until 2016. From a founding class of 6 young artists, the program now includes conductors, production assistants, collaborative pianists and administrators. Carefully selected from the region’s colleges, universities and recent graduates, Apprentice Artists work directly with Opera Roanoke’s artistic staff and have select opportunities to work with guest artists. Previous opportunities have included master-classes with renowned artist manager and vocal coach Kathy Olsen and internationally acclaimed Roanoke favorite, soprano Elizabeth Futral. As the core of the Opera Roanoke chorus for its main-stage productions, Apprentice Artists are afforded invaluable experience at the professional level working side-by-side with some of the finest singers, directors and conductors in the world of opera today. Apprentice Artists also perform in Opera Around Roanoke outreach programs to schools and community organizations around Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Enhancing students’ arts education with professional experiences, Opera Roanoke’s Apprentice Artist Program offers aspiring opera performers, artistic administrators and production crew leaders invaluable opportunities while enhancing their education and preparing them for the next stage of their careers.

Apprentice Artists will sing in the Chorus of main stage productions. A select number of Apprentice Artists may sing comprimario roles and / or cover principal roles in main stage productions. Additional opportunities include recitals and opera scene programs, outreach performances and regular coaching opportunities with Opera Roanoke’s musical staff and guest artists.

Other internship opportunities include musical assistantships, artistic administration internships and “behind the scenes” roles in opera production, from assistant stage managers to costumes, props and lighting assistants. This is a “no fee/no pay” program though travel stipends and honoraria may be available for selected productions.

Contact our Director of Operations, Brooke Tolley (email: btolley@operaroanoke.org) for more information or to apply. There is no fee to apply for the Apprentice Artist Program. Auditions are heard on a rolling basis, typically once per semester.

 


Meet Our Apprentice Artists

 

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Nour Bahri, soprano, is a sophomore at Hollins University pursuing a double major in Vocal Performance and Gender Studies. At school, she is a member of the Talmadge Singers. She was introduced to Opera Roanoke through an Opera Scenes Workshop class led by Scott Williamson and Amy Cofield Williamson during her second semester and was thrilled to be part of the cast of La Traviata. Nour is excited to now be a part of the Apprentice Program and to join the cast of South Pacific in the upcoming season.

 

 

Jack Chandler, baritone, is from Arlington, Virginia. He is a junior at Virginia Tech where he is studying vocal performance with Ariana Wyatt. Jack was in the company of Opera Roanoke’s Cinderella, and he covered the role of the King in Opera Roanoke and Virginia Tech’s collaborative production of The Three Feathers, a world premiere opera by Lori Laitman. At school, Jack has had opportunities to perform with multiple ensembles, including Virginia Tech’s Chamber Choir and Opera Workshop. He recently sang the role of Mr. Fogg in Sweeney Todd and Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata with Opera Roanoke.

 

 

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Molly Cox, mezzo-soprano, is a junior at Radford University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Music, studying in the voice studio of Melissa Sumner. As a Vocal Performance Major at Radford University and a member of Mu Phi Epsilon, she has participated in many ensemble groups. These include Opera Workshop, Madrigal Singers, and Chorale. She has also made appearances with Summer Musical Enterprise and HaeBo productions. In summer 2014, she made her international operatic debut in Freiberg, Germany at the Mittelsaschisches Theater as Dido in Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. During her time in Germany she also attended the Bergakademie, studying German language and culture. Molly covered the role of Mrs. Lovett in Opera Roanoke’s 2015 production of Sweeney Todd.

 

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Malia Diaz, Administrative Apprentice, is excited to be returning to Opera Roanoke where she was last seen in the chorus of Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA. Malia’s roles include the Dew Fairy in Humperdinck’s HANSEL & GRETEL, Despina in Mozart’s COSI FAN TUTTE, Susanna in Mozart’s LE NOZZE DI FIGARO and Cosette in LES MISERABLES. In 2015, Malia made her professional stage debut in the cast of MISS SAIGON as Mimi at The Broadway Theatre of Pitman. She has performed a concert with 2 other young artists in Weimar, Germany & sang the national anthem for the NBA Wizards game at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. Her film credits include “Monumental” (2014), “The Feast” (2014), “Hurt” (2016) and “The Possession Experiment” (2016) which recently made its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in France. Her TV credits include “Vida Dura” with CBN Productions & “The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez” with ABC Studios. Thank you for your continued support of the arts.

 

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Brenna Dudley, soprano, is proud to have worked with international performers and teachers including Julia Faulkner, Richard Owens, and Claudia Pinza. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin Madison before completing her Master’s at Georgia Southern University where she studied with Dr. Arikka Gregory. Previous roles include Rosalinda in “Die Fledermaus,” Monica in “The Medium,” Susanna in “Le nozze di Figaro,” and Gasparina in Haydn’s “La canterina.” Her range and vocal flexibility has allowed her to perform diverse roles within the operatic repertoire as well as art song, popular music and musical theater pieces. Brenna is looking forward to working with Opera Roanoke this fall as an Apprentice Artist.

 

 

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Emily Gwendolyn, soprano, is originally from Virginia Beach. I attended the Governor’s School for the Arts, in Norfolk, VA, during which time I interned in the chorus at Virginia Opera for their production of Hansel and Gretel in 2012. I recently obtained a Bachelor in Music Performance Degree from the Crane School of Music at S.U.N.Y. Potsdam. Previous roles include Yum-Yum in The Mikado, Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, and 2nd Spirit in Die Zauberflote; as well as chorus credits in Die Fledermaus and Dido and Aeneas. During my time at Crane I also participated in the Contemporary Music Ensemble performing works by Igor Stravinsky and Chinary Ung.

 

 

 

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Emma Leigh Gwin, Soprano, is a native of Blacksburg, Virginia.  She received a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from James Madison University (2014) in the studio of Dr. Carrie Stevens, and a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from George Mason University (2016) in the studio of Patricia Miller.  Previous roles include Mabel (Pirates of Penzance), Josephine (H.M.S. Pinafore), Rosa Bud (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Musetta (La Boheme), First Lady (The Magic Flute), Madame Goldentrill (The Impresario), and Le Feu (L’enfant et les Sortileges).  In 2015, Emma received first place in both classical and musical theatre categories in the Virginia and Midatlantic Regional NATS competitions. She was also a winner in the George Mason University concerto competition in the spring of 2016.  Emma recently made her professional debut as Eliza Doolittle (My Fair Lady) with Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre.  She is delighted to be joining Opera Roanoke as an Apprentice Artist fro the 2016/17 season.

 

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Abby Head, soprano, is from Roanoke, Virginia. She recently graduated from Samford University with a degree in vocal performance. Abby is a member of the Omicron Gamma Chapter of Delta Omicron, a professional fraternity for musicians, as well as being a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, a national music honor society. Abby has performed with Samford Opera in Amahl and the Night Visitors as Amahl and in On the Town. Additionally, Abby performed in Suor Angelica as La Novizia and in Le Nozze di Figaro as a chorus member with Opera Festival di Roma. She also performed this June with the Birmingham Music Club in their production of Die Fledermaus, singing in the chorus and covering Adele.

 

 

 

13063205_10154173652720820_3563103359861830957_o (2)Zach Helms, tenor, hails from the small town of Riner, Virginia. He will graduate in May with his B.A in Music, with an emphasis on Music Business, from Radford University. While at Radford, Zach was heavily involved in their Opera Workshop, was a member of the professional music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon, and was involved in a number of productions in the RU Theatre Department. Zach made his debut with Opera Roanoke in their 2015 production of Sweeney Todd and was also in their 2016 production of La Traviata. Some of his other favorite roles he’s performed include Shrek in Shrek the Musical and Ernst in Cabaret.

 

 

Sarah CuppSarah Cupp-Kress, soprano, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science from the University of Virginia. She has been a member of Opera Roanoke’s Apprentice Artist Program since 2012, performing in several scene programs, as well as in The Magic Flute, The Pirates of Penzance and Sweeney Todd.  Sarah has also performed in Mill Mountain Theatre’s production of The Sound of Music. She works as a Certified Child Life Specialist at Carilion Clinic Children’s Hospital.

 

 

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Hayden Keefer, bass, is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a senior at Virginia Tech where he is studying vocal performance with Ariana Wyatt. Hayden is excited to join the Opera Roanoke Apprentice Artist Program for his second year. This spring, he was delighted to have his debut opera role as the commissionario in Opera Roanoke’s La Traviata. Last fall, he covered the role of Judge Turpin in Opera Roanoke’s production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In 2014, he performed in the chorus in Opera Roanoke’s and Virginia Tech’s collaborative effort The Three Feathers, under the musical direction of Scott Williamson. For his education, Hayden is also pursuing music technology. Along with these studies, he actively participates in the Virginia Tech Chamber Singers as well as their Opera Workshop program.

 

 

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Alex Lyons, tenor, is from Roanoke, Virginia.  He is a student at Radford University studying Music Education with an emphasis in clarinet, and a minor in voice. He is currently principle chair in Radford University’s Wind Ensemble and is a member of Radford University’s Opera Workshop Ensemble.  He also holds membership in the professional music fraternity, Mu Phi Epsilon, Radford Pitches, and the National Association for Music Educators. He has also been awarded the distinction of performing on the Honors Recital and was the 2016 Concerto Competition winner at Radford University.

 

 

 

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Tatiana MacMartin, soprano, is from Richmond, Virginia.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music as well as a Master of Arts degree in Education with a vocal/choral concentration from Virginia Tech. She most recently performed the role of Eileen in Wonderful Town and won the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress from the Thalian Association. While participating as a young artist in La Scuola Italia per Cantati Lirici in Urbania, Italy, she was given the opportunity to perform such roles as Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), and Meg (Falstaff), in various concerts around the region. She has also performed in the Wilmington Opera House Theatre Company production of Evita. During her time in Opera Roanoke’s Apprentice Artist Program, she has performed in productions such as Carmen and Der fliegende Holländer.  She recently sang the role of Annina in Opera Roanoke’s production of La Traviata.

 

RachelNorthcottRachel Northcott, soprano, is from Medicine Hat, Alberta.  She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theatre Production and Design from the University of Lethbridge, Alberta. Rachel is now studying Music in the Fine Arts program at Southern Virginia University. She has participated in many musical theatre productions and opera workshops. Rachel sang in the chorus for Abduction, which was her first full opera. Since, she has sang in productions of Sweeney Todd and La Traviata.

 

 

 

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Dustin Odum, bass, is double majoring in Vocal Performance and Art History at Roanoke College. Dustin has been an Apprentice in the wig and makeup department for several shows, including The Pirates of PenzanceThe Magic FluteJulius Caesar and Abduction. Dustin sang in the chorus of Abduction and Sweeney Todd.  Dustin also works as a wig and makeup assistant and will be the Makeup Coordinator for Opera Roanoke’s upcoming production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.  

 

 

 

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Christie Potter, mezzo-soprano, is from Lynchburg, VA. She holds Bachelor of Music Education from Liberty University’s School of Music and is preparing for graduate school auditions to enter a vocal performance program in Fall 2017. As an Apprentice Artist, Christie has performed in the choruses of Sweeney Todd, The Magic Flute, Julius Caesar and Abduction. Other performances include chorus member and featured dancer in Opera on the James’ Die Fledermaus, Grisette in Liberty Univerty Opera’s The Merry Widow, and chorus member and Dorabella cover in Tidewater Opera Initiative’s Cosi fan Tutte.

 

 

smith_headshotTimothy Smith, baritone, is a Bassett, Virginia native. He is currently attending Radford University to earn a degree in Music Education with a focus in Voice. He has studied under David Otis Castonguay and is currently studying with Dr. Youngmi Kim. He is also a proud member of the Alpha Zeta chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon; an international, professional, co-ed music fraternity. He is also a part of Radford’s Opera Workshop and is an active member of the Radford Singers. He’s very excited to learn all the program has to offer.

 

 

DanielleStoots headshotDanielle Stoots, Assistant Stage Manager, is from Roanoke, Virginia. She has participated in many performing arts studios such as Kevin Jones Performing Arts Studio, Mill Mountain Theatre Conservatory, and A.R. Burton Center for Performing Arts. She has also attended many Workshops such as the Disney Performing Arts Workshop and Peter Sklar Beginnings Workshop. Danielle has had the wonderful opportunity to work with Opera Roanoke as Assistant Wigsmaster for La Cenerentola and she had her first taste of professional stage management as the Assistant Stage Manager for Opera Roanoke’s Sweeney Todd.

 

 


Apprentice Artist Alumni

2015/2016

Leslie Bullock, mezzo-soprano

Jack Chandler, baritone

Molly Cox, mezzo-soprano

Sarah Cupp-Kress, soprano

Brandon Goss, baritone

Zach Helms, tenor

Hayden Keefer, baritone

Tatiana MacMartin, soprano

Rachel Northcott, soprano

Dustin Odum, bass, wig and makeup apprentice

Erin O’Neil, mezzo-soprano

Christie Potter, mezzo-soprano

Danielle Stoots, apprentice stage manager

 

2014/2015

Jason Bowen, tenor

Jack Chandler, baritone

Molly Cox, mezzo-soprano

Brandon Goss, baritone

Bree Jordan, soprano

Jason Nichols, tenor

Rachel Northcott, soprano

 

2013/2014

Asherah Capellaro, soprano

Andrew Ellis, tenor

DaShay Glover, collaborative pianist

Heidi Madsen, collaborative pianist

Dustin Odum, bass

Christie Potter, mezzo-soprano

Ciji Prosser, soprano

 

2012/2013

Kelly Burns, tenor

Sarah Cupp, soprano

John Ebrahim, baritone

Jordan Hatchet, tenor

Paige Kenley, mezzo-soprano

Adam McAllister, baritone

Leah Melfi, mezzo-soprano

Jeremy O’Brien, tenor

Taerra Pence, soprano

Andrew Potter, bass

Brynn Scozzari, soprano

Anna Sterret, soprano

Becca Wiles, mezzo-soprano

Bethany Wine, mezzo-soprano

Paul Wolf, tenor

 

2011/2012

Anthony Ballard, bass

Leigh Anne Beale, soprano

Chelsea Bonagura, soprano

Stacy Dove, soprano

Steele Fitzwater, bass

Heather Haithcock, soprano

Ella Kromin, mezzo-soprano

Bennett Layman, baritone

James Lego, baritone

Tatiana MacMartin, soprano

Aurora Martin, soprano

Andrew Miller, soprano

Gracie Moore, soprano

Andrew Miller, tenor

Whitney Myers, soprano

Amon Neely, bass

Krystal Ramsey, soprano

Bryndis Reed, mezzo-soprano

Marshall Rollings, tenor

Leslie Rueff, soprano

Tara Sperry, soprano

Donna Thompson, soprano

Brooke Tolley, soprano

David Weigel, bass