WGO to Open Opera Academy of the Midwest in 2015

May 11, 2015

Monday, May 11 2015 9:57 AM

Wichita Grand Opera to Open
Opera Academy of the Midwest in 2015

(WICHITA, May 7, 2015) In Summer 2015, Wichita Grand Opera launches an ambitious new project: the Opera Academy of the Midwest. In cooperation with the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, the McPherson Opera House, Century II Performing Arts Center, Central Christian College, Newman University, and the City of McPherson, the Academy will become an intensive training ground for the next generation of opera singers and production personnel. The Academy will open on July 1, 2015,and run through October 19, 2015, though singers may take part in just the July training period if they wish.




Training Period:

July 1-24, 2015McPherson Opera House

WGO Opera Productions:

Puccini’s Turandot
Aug. 6, 20151st day of rehearsal
Aug. 28, 2015Performance: Century II Concert Hall, Wichita KS
Aug. 30, 2015Performance: Carlsen Center, Overland Park KS
Verdi’s Don Carlo
Sept. 3, 20151st day of rehearsal
Sept. 25, 2015Performance: Century II Concert Hall, Wichita KS
Sept. 27, 2015Performance: Century II Concert Hall, Wichita KS
Offenbach’s The Grand Duchess
Sept. 24, 20151st day of rehearsal
Oct. 16, 2015Performance: Century II Concert Hall, Wichita KS
Oct. 17, 2015Performance: McPherson Opera House, McPherson KS
Oct. 18, 2015Performance: Century II Concert Hall, Wichita KS


July 17, 2015“A Night at the Opera”McPherson Opera House
July 18, 2015“Opera on the Lake”Bradley Fair Plaza
August 7, 2015“A Royal Enchanted Evening”Stiefel Theatre

Soirees Musicales:

July 12, 2015Private residenceMcPherson, KS
Aug. 16, 2015Private residenceWichita, KS
Sept. 13, 2015Private residenceWichita, KS
Oct. 11, 2015Private residenceWichita, KS
In its initial year, Academy enrollment will be capped at 32 participating singers. 18 scholarships have been awarded to outstanding candidates based on audition. Aspiring young opera singers will be classified into one of three categories based on experience and ability:


Academy Fellows will be outstanding talents with a superior musical education, ready to transition to a fully professional career. Selected artists will receive full scholarships for their participation and will be given the opportunity to cover opera roles, sing in the WGO Chorus, perform as soloists in concerts and recitals, and may be given an opera role in one of this season’s productions. They will also receive advanced training in role interpretation and musical analysis.


Studio Artists will be promising young singers with a strong musical education, ready for advanced training, and may receive partial scholarships. Studio Artists may be given the opportunity to understudy roles and sing in the WGO Chorus.


Apprentices will be those still in the early stages of their vocal and musical development, who will pay a tuition fee for their training, and may be chosen to sing in the WGO Chorus.


Also, Production Internships offer valuable hands-on experience for chosen participants in all production departments, mentored by WGO’s experienced staff, and will help create the magnificent productions seen on the WGO stage throughout the season. Interns will receive a weekly stipend.



Depending on the artist’s category, the Academy curriculum includes private voice lessons, coaching sessions, masterclasses, stage movement, acting, language diction, chorus, choreography, stage safety and weaponry, career planning and development, and performance opportunities. Academy tuition for the three-week July training period is $3,250 which includes the cost of all lessons, classes, masterclasses, and training, in addition to housing and meals in McPherson.


Featured Masterclass Guest Artists:

Samuel RameySAMUEL RAMEY, bass-baritone
The most-recorded bass in history, Mr. Ramey’s career spans over 40 years, encompassing virtually the entire standard bass-baritone repertoire at every major opera house in the world.
Annalisa RaspagliosiANNALISA RASPAGLIOSI, soprano
Ms. Raspagliosi was the late Luciano Pavarotti’s co-star ofchoice for many years, and has enjoyed a stellar career in theaters including Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Bolshoi Opera, and Teatro Real de Madrid.
Alan HeldALAN HELD, bass-baritone
Mr. Held is one of the world’s foremost Wagnerian baritones, starring in roles such as Wotan, Amfortas, and the Dutchman at theaters including the Vienna Staatsoper, the Metropolitan Opera, and Bavarian State Opera.
Zvetelina VassilevaZVETELINA VASSILEVA, soprano
One of the world’s top Verdi specialists, Ms. Vassileva has sung leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Covent Garden, Houston Grand Opera, and the Berlin Staatsoper.
Gaston RiveroGASTON RIVERO, tenor
Since starring in Baz Luhrmann’s Broadway production of La boheme, Mr. Rivero has become one of the world’s leading tenors, starring with artists including Placido Domingo and Anna Netrebko.
Ricardo TamuraRICARDO TAMURA, tenor
Mr. Tamura earned rave reviews for his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2013. He starred in opera houses all over Europe, including a stellar debut at Arena di Verona.
Ms. Davis is an internationally-renowned concert organist and a world authority on French musical repertoire. She was awarded the honor of Knight of the Order of Arts & Letters by the French Ministry of Culture in 2012.
Marcus DeLoachMARCUS DELOACH, baritone
Mr. DeLoach is currently a voice faculty member at Temple University. An advocate of contemporary music, he has appeared in concert with the New York Philharmonic under Lorin Maazel and Riccardo Muti.
Sarah HeltzelSARAH HELTZEL, mezzo-soprano
Ms. Heltzel is a crossover artist, performing roles in opera and musical theater with Seattle Opera, Syracuse Opera, American Lyric Theater, and the Boston Philharmonic, among others.


OAM Faculty:

Martin MazikMARTIN MÁZIK, Conductor, Opera Coach
Mr. Mazik is a guest conductor in high demand, conducting more than 200 performances every year in opera houses worldwide.
William PowersWILLIAM POWERS, Vocal & Acting Interpretation, Diction
Mr. Powers’ distinguished career includes more than 100 roles in leading theaters worldwide, including world premieres at the Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera Chicago.
Parvan BakardievPARVAN BAKARDIEV, Career Planning
Mr. Bakardiev has previously served as Apprentice General Director of San Francisco Opera; Artistic Administrator of Houston Grand Opera; Founder & General Director of the San Antonio Festival, Director of Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center, and consultant to the Kennedy Center, and the Berlin and Sakai Operas.
Margaret PentMARGARET ANN PENT, Staging, Voice
Ms. Pent, winner of the Vienna Opera Competition, performed lead roles in Europe and the US while teaching voice. Founder and Artistic Director of the WGO, she has directed and designed many of its productions.
Diane GansDIANE GANS, Choreography, Stage Dancing
Ms. Gans has choreographed performances for the WGO, Friends University, Wichita State University, and Wichita Collegiate School for over 20 years, and she is owner and director of the Kansas Dance Academy.
Shayna LeahySHAYNA LEAHY, Stage Movement, Social Coordinator
Ms. Leahy, a WGO resident stage director, served on the staff of Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance program, and is Director of Vocal Studies at Highland Community College.
Matthew SchlonegerMATTHEW SCHLONEGER, Chorusmaster, Voice, Diction
Mr. Schloneger teaches voice & choir and serves as Chair of the Division of Humanities at Hesston College, and has appeared in tenor roles in several WGO productions.
Nyle MatsuokaNYLE MATSUOKA, Opera Coach, Accompanist
In addition to the WGO, Mr. Matsuoka also serves as principal coach for Austin Opera, and has previously coached for Arizona Opera and Wolf Trap Opera.
Edward LadaEDWARD LADA, Working with Conductors
Mr. Lada joined the WGO in 2007 as Music Administrator, and made his opera conducting debut last season in WGO’s Tosca. As WGO’s resident conductor he has served as Associate Conductor and Chorusmaster.
Ying ZhuYING ZHU, Rehearsal Accompanist
Ms. Zhu is an adjunct instructor of piano at Wichita State University, and previously served on rehearsal staff at Ash Lawn Opera.

For information on how to apply to the Academy, or for any other questions, please visit Wichita Grand Opera’s website at wichitagrandopera.org/academy or contact the WGO Artistic Department by e-mail at info@wichitagrandopera.org and by phone at (316) 683-3444.


CLICK HERE to dowload this press release as a PDF.
CLICK HERE to downlaod a copy of the Academy informational brochure. (8 MB)


WGO’s Opera Academy of the Midwest is sponsored in part by the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, Dr. Dennis & Ann Ross, Central Christian College, the Naftzger Fund for Fine Arts, the McPherson Opera House, the Ross & Marianna Beach Foundation, and the Charlotte Brickler Trust.