Emerging Artist Program

History and Mission

Recognized by a grant from the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts, St. Petersburg Opera Co.’s Emerging Artist Program was first implemented in 2006 and has been rapidly growing ever since.  The main focus of SPO’s educational mission is to provide stimulating artistic challenges in a professional setting for opera performers in various stages of their development.  In our program the artists attend all rehearsals of the principal cast, learning not only the music for the character they are covering, but also the staging, choreography, and any dialogue.  In addition, participants have private and group coaching sessions with Maestro Mark Sforzini, as well as stage rehearsal time with the Stage Director.  A unique feature of St. Petersburg Opera’s Emerging Artists program is that each artist will be given the opportunity to rehearse with full orchestra – an invaluable experience for aspiring opera performers preparing a role. There are opportunities for public performances, and by the end of the program, participants usually have performed 75% – 100% of their role in public.   The cover cast also has a run-through onstage with set during tech week.

Guest vocal clinicians are invited to work with each individual emerging artist focusing on the technical approach to their music. Past guest clinicians have included Sherrill Milnes, Maria Zouves, Tito Capobianco, Stella Zambalis, Doug Han, David Štech and Caren Levine.

Emerging Artist Testimonials

“Multitude of opportunities”

“St. Petersburg Opera offers artists in its Emerging Artist Program a multitude of opportunities that are on par with the programs of Houston Grand Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco’s Adler Fellow Program…As an Emerging Artist, I was assigned a full-length cover role and a main stage role and was able to work directly with Maestro Sforzini on all of the musical components in one-on-one coaching sessions.”

-Eric McKeever, Le nozze di Figaro Emerging Artist Program, Figaro Cover and performed Antonio

“So much time devoted to emerging artists” 

“I was consistently impressed with the attention they gave to the young performers in the program. In no other company I have dealt with has so much rehearsal time been devoted to emerging artists. At every rehearsal, after every scene with the principal singers, they would take time out to run the scene with the emerging artists.”

-Adam Hall, Rigoletto Emerging Artist Program, Duke of Mantua Cover

“Extremely high quality productions” “In tough economic times, SPO continues to put together extremely high quality productions in original language with full orchestra. As a developing artist this is invaluable beyond words!!”

-Jennifer Kosharsky, Samson et Dalila Emerging Artist Program, Dalila Cover

“Offers vital tools for the opera profession” “The St. Petersburg Opera Company has played a major part in my professional development as a performer and in the expansion of fine arts in the community.  The EA program is a well rounded training program that offers vital tools for growth and adaptation into the opera profession.”

– Phoenix Gayles, Carmen Emerging Artist Program, Frasquita Cover

“Fantastic Opportunity” “Unique to being an Emerging Artist with St Petersburg Opera is the fantastic opportunity to perform a role in its entirety. Just as the principal artists, we work with the director and conductor, including stage rehearsals, a sitzprobe, etc., to making certain every aspect of the production is prepared and performed to the highest level”

– Keith Smith, Don Giovanni Emerging Artist Program, Masetto Cover

“Personalized Attention” “…I was afforded a level of feedback and personalized attention that helped me grow as much in three weeks as I had in the previous two years.”

– Nova Safo, L’elisir d’amore Emerging Artist Program, Nemorino Cover

Emerging Artists at St. Petersburg Opera

2017 L’elisir d’amore Emerging Artists

  • Phillip Bullock, Belcore
  • Vincent Grana,  Dulcamara
  • Stephanie Jabre, Giannetta
  • Hector Manuel Mir, Nemorino
  • Jenna Siladie, Adina

2017 Il trovatore Emerging Artists

  • Kathleen Buccleugh, Inez, mainstage role
  • Micah Callahan, Ruiz cover
  • Tara Curtis, Azucena cover
  • Clair DiVizio, Leonora cover
  • Brandon Evans, Rruiz mainstage role
  • Christina Franco,  Ines cover
  • Samuel Hall, Manrico cover
  • Rafael Luquis, Count di Luna cover
  • Hans Tashjian. Ferrando cover

2016 La Bohème Emerging Artists

  • Maria L. Hernandez: Mimì
  • Russell Andrade: Rodolfo
  • Melissa Primavera: Musetta
  • Alexander Boyd: Marcello
  • John Short: Colline
  • Jay Lucas Chacon: Schaunard
  • Andrew Emery: Alcindoro/Benoit

2016 Abduction from the Seraglio Emerging Artists

  • Jonathan Ray: Belmonte
  • Lauren Frey: Konstanze
  • Kathryn Supina: Blonde
  • Chris Romeo: Pedrillo
  • Chun Feng Li: Osmin
  • Dewey Davis-Thompson: Pasha

2015 Carmen Emerging Artists

  • Caroline Tye: Carmen
  • Samuel Hall: Don José
  • Jacqueline Bruce: Micaëla
  • John Allen Nelson : Escamillo
  • Brittany Fouché: Frasquita
  • Augusta Caso: Mercédès
  • Micah Callahan: Remendado
  • Robert Amer: Dancaïro
  • Blake Hudson: Zuniga
  • Jesse V. Martin: Moralès

2015 Putting It Together Emerging Artists

  • Christina English:The Wife
  • Todd W. Donovan: The Husband
  • Nora Graham-Smith: Younger Woman
  • David Macaluso: Younger Man
  • Jason Miller: Observer

2015 Turandot Emerging Artists

  • Perri Montané: Turandot
  • Samuel Hall: Calàf
  • Julia Ebner: Liù
  • Ian Richardson: Timur
  • Jesse Stock: Ping
  • Gabriel Enrique: Pang
  • Justin Berkowitz: Pong
  • John Short: Mandarin

2015 The Barber of Seville Emerging Artists

  • Luis González: Figaro
  • Kyle Tomlin: Count Almaviva
  • Kristin Behrmann: Rosina
  • Andrew Potter: Dr. Bartolo
  • John Short: Basilio
  • Jenny Kim-Godfrey: Berta
  • Robert Amer: Fiorello

2014 Pagliacci Emerging Artists

  • Russell Andrade: Canio
  • Rachael Marino: Nedda
  • Jesse Stock: Tonio
  • Alejandro Viera: Beppe
  • Mario Diaz-Moresco: Silvio
  • Brandon Martin: Apprentice Conductor

2014 Norma Emerging Artists

  • Cassandra Black: Norma
  • James Chamberlain: Pollione
  • Robyn Rocklein: Adalgisa
  • Rimas Karnavicius: Oroveso
  • Evelio Mendez: Flavio
  • Andrea Wright: Clotilde

2014 West Side Story Emerging Artists

  • Anais Mejias: Maria, Francisca (mainstage role)
  • Justin Berkowitz: Tony, Snowboy (mainstage role)
  • Stephanie Scarcella: Anita, Margarita (mainstage role)
  • Aaron T. Castle: Riff, Baby John (mainstage role)
  • Alexander Zickafoose: Bernardo, Toro (mainstage role)
  • Clayton Okaly: Chino (mainstage role)
  • Jarrett Smith: A-rab (mainstage role)

2014 Susannah Emerging Artists

  • Carolina Castells: Susannah
  • Brian Wehrle: Olin Blitch
  • Chris Romeo: Sam
  • Stephen Mollica: Little Bat
  • Rimas Karnavicius: Elder McLean
  • Richard Agster: Elder Ott
  • Chris Romeo: Elder Gleaton
  • Jarrett Smith: Elder Hayes
  • Rachael Marino: Mrs. McLean
  • Jacqueline Graham: Mrs. Ott
  • Michelle Rego: Mrs. Gleaton
  • Andrea Wright: Mrs. Hayes

2013 Roméo et Juliette Emerging Artists

  • Michelle Seipel: Juliette
  • Russell Andrade: Roméo
  • Brian Wehrle: Frére Laurent, The Duke (mainstage role)
  • Mario Diaz-Moresco: Mercutio
  • Stefanie Benkert: Stéphano
  • John Short: Count Capulet
  • Chris Romeo: Tybalt
  • Robyn Rocklein: Gertrude
  • Robert Amer: Paris (mainstage role)
  • Alejandro Viera: Benvolio (mainstage role)
  • Luis González: Grégorio (mainstage role)

2013 Ariadne auf Naxos Emerging Artists

  • Sarah Nordin: The Composer
  • Elyse Nakajima: Zerbinetta
  • Perri Montané: The Prima Donna (Ariadne)
  • James Chamberlain: (Bacchus)
  • Jinho Park: The Music Teacher
  • Gilad Paz: The Dancing Master, Scaramuccio (mainstage role)
  • Jinho Park: Harlequin
  • Jonathan Willis: Scaramuccio
  • John Short: Truffaldin, The Lackey (mainstage role)
  • Gabriel Hernandez: Brighella
  • Robert Amer: The Lackey, The Wigmaker (mainstage role)
  • Alison Scherzer: Naiad
  • Sarah Coit: Dryad
  • Melissa Primavera: Echo

2013 Tosca Emerging Artists

  •   Jacqueline Quirk: Tosca
  •   Neil Darling: Cavaradossi
  •   Joseph Ryan: Scarpia
  •   John Short: Angelotti
  •   Chris Romeo: Spoletta
  •   Robert Amer: Sacristan & Sciarrone

2012 Sweeney Todd Emerging Artists

  •  Todd Donovan: Sweeney Todd
  •   Melissa Misener: Mrs. Lovett
  •   Siddhartha Misra: Tobias
  •   Brandon Evans: Anthony
  •   Andrea Wright: Johanna
  •   Rim Karnavicius: Judge Turpin
  •   Russell Andrade: Beadle Bamford
  •   Sarah Coit: Beggar Woman
  •   Chris Romeo: Pirelli

2012 Samson et Dalila Emerging Artists

  •    Percy Martinez: Samson
  •    Jennifer Kosharsky: Delilah
  •    Jeremy Moore: High Priest
  •    Fred Furnari: Abimelech
  •    John Short: Old Hebrew
  •    Brandon Evans: A Philistine Messenger
  •    Chris Romeo: First Philistine
  •    Luis Gonzalez: Second Philistine

2012 Le nozze di Figaro Emerging Artists

  •     Samus Haddad: Count Almaviva
  •     Erin Sura: Countess Rosina Almaviva
  •     Eric McKeever: Figaro
  •     Phoenix Gayles: Susanna
  •     Melissa Misener: Marcellina
  •     Sarah Coit: Cherubino
  •     Vanessa Rodriguez: Barbarina
  •     Chris Romeo: Basilio
  •     John Short: Antonio
  •     Doug Denning: Don Curzio

2011 Madama Butterfly Emerging Artists

  •    Francisco Rendon: B. F. Pinkerton
  •    Joseph Peterson: Goro
  •    Douglas Denning: Goro
  •    Heather Witt: Suzuki
  •    Andrew Papas: Sharpless
  •    Corinna Quilliam: Cio Cio San
  •    Phillip Dvoracsek: Imperial Commissioner
  •    Dennis Ryan: The Bonze
  •    Thomas Massey: Yamadori

2011 Rigoletto Emerging Artists

  •     Anthony Zoeller: Rigoletto
  •     Michelle Seipel: Gilda
  •     Adam Hall: Duke of Mantua
  •     Rimus Karnavicius: Sparafucile
  •     Nathalie Fares: Maddalena
  •     Joseph Peterson: Borsa
  •     Vladislav Markov: Count Ceprano
  •     Thomas Massey: Marullo

2010 Carmen Emerging Artists

  •     Kara Cornell: Carmen
  •     Joseph Ryan: Escamillo
  •     Andrea Lara: Micaela
  •     Phoenix Gayles: Frasquita
  •     Rachel Assi: Mercedes
  •     Andrew Pittman: Zuniga
  •     Joseph Peterson: Remendado
  •     Colin Levin: Dancairo

2010 Cosi fan Tutte Emerging Artists

  • Melissa Misener: Dorabella
  • Sara Peeples: Despina
  • Wade Thomas: Guglielmo
  • Sean Kroll: Don Alfonso
  • Phillip Dvoracsek: Don Alfonso Apprentice Cover

2009 La Traviata Emerging Artists

  • Colin Levin: Baron Douphol (La Traviata), Figaro (Barber of St. Pete)
  • Brian Kuhl: Gastone (La Traviata): Almaviva (Barber of St. Pete)
  • Sara Peeples: Violetta (La Traviata)
  • Benjamin Robinson: Alfredo/Chorus (La Traviata)
  • Joseph Ryan: Germont/Chorus (La Traviata)
  • Kara Cornell: Flora(La Traviata), Rosina (Barber of St. Pete)
  • Phoenix Gayles: Annina/Chorus (La Traviata)
  • Rim Karnavicius: Dr. Bartolo (Barber of St. Pete), Chorus (La Traviata)
  • Sean Kroll: Dottore/Chorus (La Traviata), Basilio (Barber of St. Pete)
  • Joshua Quinn: Baron Douphol & Marquis/Chorus (La Traviata)

2009 The Merry Widow Emerging Artists

  •   Sara Peeples: Hanna Glawari
  •   Andrew Park: Count Danilo Danilovitsch
  •   Joseph Flaxman: Baron Mirko Zeta
  •   Andrea Lara: Valencienne
  •   Stephen Mollica: Camille Count de  Rosillon
  •    Colin Levin: Njegus
  •    Benjamin Robinson: Raoul de St. Brioche
  •    Joel Mercer; Vicomte Cascada

2008 Don Giovanni Emerging Artists

  • Nicholas Provenzale: Don Giovanni
  • Zack Rabin: Leporello
  • Carmen Elisa Cancel and Stephanie Sager: Donna Anna Cover
  • Alexandra Walker and Sara Peeples: Donna Elvira
  • Emily Parrott and Emily Packard: Zerlina
  • Stephen Mollica: Don Ottavio
  • Keith Smith: Masetto
  • Rim Karnavicius: Commendatore

2007 L’elisir d’amore Emerging Artists

  • Anna Linvill and Emily Parrott: Adina
  • Wesley Morgan and Nova Safo: Nemorino
  • Rim Karnavicius and Zack Rabin: Dulcamara
  • Nicholas Provenzale and Will Earl Spanheimer: Belcore
  • Carmen Cancel and Michelle Rego: Giannetta

2007 La Bohème Emerging Artists

  •    Wade Thomas: Marcello
  •    Derek M. Johnson: Rodolfo
  •    Mark Payne: Colline
  •    John Wenzel: Schaunard
  •    Rim Karnivicius: Benoit/Alcindoro
  •    Alexandra Walker and K. Marie Konsol: Mimi
  •    Marisa Arzillo and Leila Bowie: Musetta