OperaWorks taught me that sometimes what we might perceive as the ‘flaw’ is not a flaw after all – it’s part of what makes us interesting and whole as people and as artists. It’s more important to make a bold choice and risk exposing a weakness, than to try to play it safe and hide our full humanity from the world.
ERIKA PERSON WERNER (2016, 2006) New York City Opera,
NY Gilbert & Sullivan Players, Spoleto Festival USA
At OperaWorks I encountered, for the first time, a curriculum that utilized dramatic and musical improvisation as a tool to discover one’s deeply personal and distinctive gifts. I was given elements that are essential to being not only a professional artist, but more than that, one with a unique artistic voice.
RANDALL SCOTTING (2003)
Seattle Opera, Spoleto, Santa Fe Opera, NY Philharmonic
Rather than focusing solely on the “product” which is typical of other programs, OperaWorks focuses on the process… [It] was life-changing; it was great to know I could take risks and have a safe and supportive environment in which to do so.
AMANDA McGARRY (2012)
Sarasota Opera Young Artist, Salt Marsh Opera
[OperaWorks] was transformative and empowering on all levels. By letting go of long-held fears and inhibitions, I finally felt free to explore my personal and artistic potential.
KATHRYN McKELLER (2007)
Boston Lyric Opera, founder Opera on Tap Boston
[OperaWorks] gave me what I never learned anywhere else. We live in a world of recordings and a wealth of knowledge on what is right and wrong. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of what we don’t know. OperaWorks taught me the best answers lie within each of us as an individual. We are all unique and it is through that unique perspective that our best art will be created.
CLINTON STOFFBERG (2013)
Voice faculty – Douglas College (Canada)
My experience at OperaWorks was truly life changing. Striving to strengthen the whole person, not just the singing voice, opens up creativity and expression I never knew existed.
LORALEE SONGER (2009)
Tanglewood Music Center vocal fellow; Coe College voice faculty
[OperaWorks’ teachers] were the first group of mentors who openly talked about the realities of being a professional singer and gave me the tools to actually be able to survive and enjoy the fight to the top.
JULIA CHALFIN (2006)
Opera-Cabaret writer/producer/performer “Opernstammtisch” (Munich)
…the extraordinary expressive techniques and penetrating communicative devices that I learned at OperaWorks were and are universal, transcending all genres and eras of music.
JENNIFER COOPER (2015, 1996)
Florida Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Opera; founder Groove Span
The classes and coachings at OperaWorks expanded my practice room toolbox, giving me new ways to explore the depth of every piece I sing. The faculty and students embraced performing as a fun, vibrant mode of communication…I left the program incredibly motivated to perform at my highest level.
JENI HOUSER (2010)
Lyric Opera of Chicago, Wiener Staatsoper, Minnesota Opera
…it was a tremendously eye-opening experience that showed me that I had not even begun to tap into my true potential as an artist….In short, it has transformed my entire life, musical and non-musical.
EMILY JAWORSKI (2014, 2008)
Plymouth State voice faculty, Longwood Opera
While I have performed in leading roles from New York to Kazakhstan, and have sung on numerous film scores, the more exciting aspect of OperaWorks is how it has shaped my work as a producer/director and founder of Mercury Opera. The techniques gleaned have enabled me to pull out great performances from the singers I cast. Oftentimes, they being in one place: contrived and with affectations, and arrive with a performance that is sizzling and organic.
DARIA PARADA (1997)
Founder/Producer/Director of Mercury Opera (Canada)
Since OperaWorks, I experience music in a whole new way. I have realized that singing is not about getting it right. It’s about finding something beautiful and honest in the moment and accepting it….Not only did my singing change after participating in OperaWorks program, but my life changed. I am not afraid to follow my instincts. In fact, I have learned to love my instincts!
FELICIA MOORE (2009)
Palm Beach Opera, Arizona Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera
The most important part of OperaWorks for me was that you and your team of faculty…taught us that who we are as artists, our personality, the choices we make, is not only good enough, but is 100% more real, interesting and exciting than trying to be something we are not.
AUSTIN THOMPSON (2010)
San Diego Opera, Aspen Music Festival
Ann (Baltz) completely took away the ability to be ‘right’ with her improv exercises, and consequently a whole world of beautiful music was opened up to me. Music was no longer about perfect technique or performance practice. Instead, it was about enjoying music in the moment, marveling at the ability for us to create something so beautiful that comes straight from our musical hearts rather than our academic brain.
RACHAEL HIBBS COLMAN (2010)
US Air Force Singers; Handel & Hayden Society (Boston)
My summer at OperaWorks was an experience like no other. It was a chance to learn that there are no mistakes, only experimentation. The faculty all worked toward one goal; to teach us each to do all of the background work and study but in the end to trust in our instincts and our talent.
SARAH ASMAR (2003)
Sarasota Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Opera Southwest
[OperaWorks] provides an incubator for risk taking by deconstructing the staid aspects of opera’s convention, and allow an artist to explore and experiment in a safe environment. It was an eye-opener.
DARIA PARADA (1997)
Founder/Producer/Director of Mercury Opera (Canada)
OperaWorks was a truly life-changing experience. I left feeling so invigorated and excited about being a singer and pursuing this career! I felt more relaxed and free as a performer and so much more confident to ‘do my thing’ with pride rather than focusing all my mental energy on pleasing an audition panel. More than ever, I felt I had permission to be myself, be spontaneous, and have fun on stage. I gained so many new tools for practice and performance, and a better sense of my own personal and career goals. And I just plain had a blast!”
SARAH NELSON CRAFT (2007)
Carnegie Hall Spotlight recitals, Caramoor Festival
OperaWorks was not only helpful, but necessary! I never realized how much I would learn and take with me once I began my career in opera. OperaWorks focuses on very unique aspects of performing and helps every individual singer grow from the inside out.
KATHRYN LEEMHUIS (2003)
Lyric Opera of Chicago, Temple University Voice Faculty
OperaWorks taught me how to think outside of the box of ‘vocal technique’ and focus on making the character come alive to the audience. I am constantly reminded of the different performing and preparation techniques that were first introduced to me at OperaWorks.
JULIE ANNE MILLER (2006)
Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
I think that improvisation is truly one of the most valuable tools I have as a performing artist…[It] helped me learn to approach all aspects of my life with new eyes. Why reserve ‘wild abandon’ just for the rehearsal room and the stage? If I can live each moment as it comes, there is no room for fear or self-consciousness. I’m all in!
SUSAN HOLSONBAKE (1996)
Houston Grand Opera, Opera Santa Barbara