Young Artist Program
Chautauqua Opera's Young Artist Program was established in 1968. Now under the supervision of Artistic/General Director Jay Lesenger, and Carol Rausch, Music Administrator/Chorus Master, it is recognized as one of the best training programs for young singers in America today. The program has seen over 1,000 artists benefit from this professional training experience.
Most Chautauqua Opera Young Artists have graduated from their bachelor's and/or master's degree programs at leading conservatories and universities. Chautauqua Opera provides our Young Artists with performance tools essential to establishing a professional career in opera. Chautauqua Opera has asked many former Young Artists to return as Principal Artists with the company. In 2008 Chautauqua Opera celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Young Artists Program. The 2008 season brought back ten former Young Artists to perform leading roles in four productions.
All YOUNG ARTISTS receive extensive musical coaching from a nationally recognized coaching staff drawn from the finest universities, conservatories and houses in the US. All Artists in the program attend classes in movement, combat, makeup, acting and appear in the chorus of the mainstage productions. All Young Artists also have many opportunities to participate in master classes given by distinguished artists, agents and voice teachers. Notable masterclass artists in the recent past have included Constanza Cuccaro (Indiana University), Peter Kazaras (Seattle Opera YA Program), Marlena Malas (Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music), Patricia Misslin (New England Conservatory) and Brian Zeger (Juilliard).
There are two divisions of the Young Artist Program. APPRENTICE ARTISTS sing and cover leading, supporting and/or comprimario roles in mainstage productions, perform at outreach performances, and are hired under an American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) Apprenticeship contract. STUDIO ARTISTS perform in musical revues, art song recitals, and a program of opera scenes; they may also be assigned cover or comprimario roles in the mainstage productions, and are hired under non-AGMA contracts. Housing, a weekly stipend, and a travel allowance are provided for all Young Artists. Approximately twenty-six singers are chosen each summer.
Chautauqua Opera invites representatives from top artist management agencies and opera companies to come to Chautauqua Opera and audition our Young Artists and/or attend the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra Opera Highlights or "Pops" Concert in the 5,000-seat Amphitheater.
Each year, the Chautauqua Opera Young Artist Program attracts anywhere from 700-800 applicants, of which; approximately 600 are invited to auditions in New York City in late November/early December. From those auditions; 26 Young Artists are chosen to participate in the summer season.Alumni of the Young Artist Program include;Douglas Ahlstedt, Keri Alkema, Madeline Bender, Elizabeth Bishop, Lauretta Bybee, Joyce Castle, Pamela Coburn, Diane Curry, Brian Davis, Harry Dworchak, Kate Egan, Ruth Falcon, Malin Fritz, Shuler Hensley, Joshua Hopkins, Carolyn James, Anita Johnson, Peter Kazaras, Adam Klein, Sunny Joy Langton, Mimi Lerner, Kyle Marrero, Emily Martin, Lee Merrill, Julie Newell, Mari Opatz, Derrick Parker, Eugene Perry, Herbert Perry, David Pittsinger, Jane Redding, Vale Rideout, Hugh Russell, James Schaffner, Jane Shaulis, Marietta Simpson, Stephanie Sundine, Todd Thomas, Mildred Tyree, David Ward, Tracey Welborn, Julie Wright and Sherry Zannoth. In upcoming seasons, former Young Artists will be singing at The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera and Opera Theatre of St. Louis among others.