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The Palm Beach Opera Young Artist Program is funded by The Edward H. Benenson Foundation.
Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts

The Palm Beach Opera Young Artist Program is a stepping stone to a successful career as an opera singer for post-graduate and emerging singers. During their five-month residency in Palm Beach they develop and polish essential stagecraft and performance skills, aided by musical and career guidance from Palm Beach Opera’s experienced artistic staff. The Young Artists are Palm Beach Opera’s community ambassadors, performing throughout the area in education and outreach concerts as well as covering lead roles and performing comprimario roles on the mainstage.

IN THE NEWSA lyric launching pad: Young artists laugh, learn at Palm Beach Opera – Palm Beach Daily News 3.10.13

Lyric soprano Bridgette Gan, who has been praised as “outstanding” (Baltimore Examiner) and hailed by the Washington Post as “capable of gorgeous singing,” is quickly establishing herself as an exciting and upcoming soprano in some of the country’s most renowned opera programs, stages and competitions. This year with PBO, Bridgette will cover Musetta in La Bohème and sing Marie in the family performance of Le Fille du Régiment. Ms. Gan recently finished her first Apprenticeship with The Santa Fe Opera, where she performed Kitty in The Last Savage (Apprentice Scenes Showcase) and covered the lead role of Vlada (Madame Herz)/The Cook in The Impresario/Le Rossignol. Also in the 2013-2014 season, Gan made her debut with the U.S Marine Chamber Orchestra as the soprano soloist in Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915. As a 2013-2014 PBO Resident Artist, Bridgette sang Stella/Olympia (cover) in Les contes d’Hoffmann and Morgana in PBO’s “Opera in One Hour” production of Alcina. In other recent seasons, Bridgette has sung roles with Central City Opera, LA Pacific Opera Project, Ash Lawn Opera Festival and Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Bridgette has won awards in The Violetta DuPont Vocal Competition, The Giulio Gari International Vocal Competition, The Gerda Lissner Vocal Competition, The Licia Albanese-Pucinni Competion, Opera Index Vocal Competition and the Philadelphia Orchestra Albert M. Greenfield Competition, among others.  Sponsored by Roseanne and Dennis Williams

Liana Guberman HeadshotLIANA GUBERMAN – SOPRANO
Soprano Liana Guberman, from New York, NY is a first year Young Artist with Palm Beach Opera. This season at PBO, Liana will cover the role of Mimì in La Bohème and the role of Masha in Enemies, A Love Story. In the summer of 2014, Liana was a Fellow at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA where she sang the role of Micaëla in Carmen and the soprano solo in Mahler’s 4th Symphony. Other operatic roles include Mimì in La Bohème and the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro with Brooklyn’s LoftOpera and Parasha in Stravinsky’s Mavra and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Mannes Opera. Liana was a 2014 award winner of the Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Competition.  Sponsored in part by Mickey and Allan Greenblatt

Mezzo Soprano Rachel Arky, whose “expressive phrasing and fine sound” are coupled with an “endearing” and “convincing” stage presence, is thrilled to be returning to Palm Beach Opera for her second season as a Young Artist. Last season she was seen as Berta (Il barbiere di Siviglia) and Lady in Waiting (Macbeth), and performed in Young Artist scenes as Bradamante (Alcina) and Mrs. Webb (Our Town). During the 2015 season Ms. Arky will be covering the roles of Tamara in Enemies, A Love Story and the Marquise in La Fille du Régiment. Other recent appearances include Carmen (cover/La tragédie de Carmen/Des Moines Metro Opera), Martha (Iolanta), Lola (Cavalleria rusticana), and the Mezzo-soprano Soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass with DCINY at Avery Fisher Hall (her Lincoln Center debut). Rachel has placed as a Finalist in a number of prestigious competitions, including the Giulio Gari Voice Competition, the Violetta DuPont Vocal Competition, the Marcello Giordani Voice Competition, and the Liederkranz Voice Competition. She completed her M.M. at Manhattan School of Music and her B.A. at Barnard College, and is represented by Wade Artist Management.

Mezzo Soprano, JoAna Rusche, is thrilled to be returning to Palm Beach Opera again this season. Last season, she performed the roles of Rosina in the Family Performance of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Ruggiero in Alcina, and Mrs. Gibb’s in Our Town. This season, she will be performing the role of Shiva Haddas in Ben Moore’s new opera Enemies, A Love Story. She will also be singing the role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp in the Family Performance of The Daughter of the Regiment. Praised by Opera News as being “notably sweet-voiced,” Ms. Rusche made her debut with Opera North in the title role in La Cenerentola, where she was hailed as “an effervescent Cinderella” and was praised for managing “Rossini’s florid lines with flair and warmth.” Previous roles include the title roles of L’Enfant et les Sortileges and Hansel and Gretel, as well as Inez in Il Trovatore and Fidalma in Il Matrimonio Segreto. Ms. Rusche has received top prizes in the Birmingham Opera Competition, the Heafner Williams Vocal Competition, the Charlotte Opera Guild Auditions, the state and national levels of the National Federation of Music Clubs Student Auditions, and the Long Leaf Opera National Vocal Competition.  Sponsored by The Gladys and Sy Ziv Foundation

Nicholas Nestorak has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hillsdale College where he was a student of Melissa Borg Osmond and a Master of Music Degree from the University of Michigan where he was a student of George Shirley. Currently, Nicholas is a second-year member of the Palm Beach Opera Young Artist Program. Last year he was featured singing Nathanaël and Spalanzani in The Tales of Hoffmann, as well as Count Almaviva in the family performance of The Barber of Seville in Palm Beach Opera’s 2013-2014 season. This followed Nicholas’ covering of the role of Count Almaviva while performing Ufficiale as a Marcello Giordani Young Artist with the 2013 Crested Butte Music festival. Nicholas performs and competes internationally. During the summer of 2014, Nicholas performed the role of Rinuccio in Oberlin in Italy’s production of Gianni Schicchi. In September 2013 Nicholas was awarded a prize in the finals of the Marcello Giordani Foundation Vocal Competition, which was held in Catania, Sicily. Sponsored by Sue and Paul Efron

Tenor Robert Watson, a native of Kansas City, MO, made his professional debut as a Noble in Wagner’s Lohengrin in 2012 with San Francisco Opera. This past summer, Watson appeared as a Filene Young Artist at Wolf Trap Opera, performing the title role in Milhaud’s Le Paurve Matelot, and Le Remendado in Bizet’s Carmen with the National Symphony. Robert also performed the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center and with the National Symphony. Watson has appeared in recital at the Phillips Collection and in recital with Steven Blier. Recent roles have included Spoletta in Tosca at Opera Santa Barbara, Henry Cox in the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne at San Francisco Opera, and the Male Chorus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia with San Francisco’s Merola Opera. Watson has appeared as a young artist with Merola Opera Program and Opera Santa Barbara. He placed second in the 2014 Irene Dalis Awards, and is a recipient of a 2014 Shoshana Foundation Career Grant. He is a two-time Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions regional finalist. He attended the San Francisco Conservatory, and is a graduate of Oklahoma City University.

Baritone Jason Duika is quickly making a name for himself in the classical music world. Being praised by Oregon music news for having a, “big, warm voice” and, “spot-on comic timing”. This past April, he sang the famous tenor/baritone duet, Si pel ciel, from Verdi’s Otello opposite tenor Andrew Lunsford, and the aria, Di provenza from Verdi’s La Traviata at Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern auditorium, and in April of 2013, sang the baritone solos in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in Alma Colleges spring 2013 masterworks concert. In the summer of 2012, Jason covered Metropolitan Opera Baritone Kyle Pfortmiller in the role of Valentine in Gounod’s Faust at Utah Festival Opera in Logan, and in the winter of 2013, joined Wichita Grand Opera to cover the roles of The Count, in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and the great villain Iago, in Verdi’s Otello. While in graduate school at Portland State in the spring of 2009, Jason sang the role of Ford, in Verdi’s Falstaff opposite veteran Metropolitan opera Baritone Richard Zeller. Among Jason’s other performance credits are the title roles in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at Portland State, and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. Jason holds a Bachelor of Arts in voice from Alma College, a Masters of Music in voice performance from Portland State University, and a Performer Diploma in opera from the world renowned Indiana University Jacobs School of music, where he performed the title role of Dr. Falke in Strauss’ Die FledermausSponsored by Estelle Fassler, In Memory of Leon Fassler

First-generation Romanian-American pianist Irina Nedelcu coaches and accompanies as a freelance artist for many opera singers, opera companies, and festivals throughout North America.Recently, Ms. Nedelcu was a Mary Ragland Young Artist at Nashville Opera where she served as the music director and tour manager for the outreach program. Prior to this position, she was a resident artist at Shreveport Opera, where she was the rehearsal pianist and chorus master for their main stage season and music director for the outreach program.  Ms. Nedelcu served as a staff pianist/coach at companies such as Amarillo Opera, OperaWorks, Chicago Summer Opera, Mill City Summer Opera, Opera in the Ozarks, Bay View Music Festival, and the Interlochen Summer Arts Academy. In 2014 she completed an Artist Residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada.  She earned a Master’s of Music degree from Florida State University and a Bachelor’s of Music from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.


Program Faculty
Timothy Cheung, Head Coach
Greg Ritchey, Associate Conductor and Chorus Master, PBO
Carl King, Movement and Fitness Instructor

Master Artist Residencies
Rachelle Jonck
Danielle Orlando
Kathryn LaBouff

Guest Directors and Conductors

La Bohème
Fenlon Lamb, Director
Daniele Callegari, Conductor

Enemies, A Love Story
Sam Helfrich, Director
David Stern, Conductor

The Daughter of the Regiment
Dona D. Vaughn, Director
Antonino Fogliani, Conductor

Young Artist Program Application

2015/2016 SEASON

We have filled all of our available audition time slots and the application is now closed. For additional questions, please contact Scott Guzielek at 561.835.7553 or

November 16, 2014- March 29, 2015
8 singers total (2 sopranos, 2 mezzos, 2 tenors, 1 baritone, 1 bass)

The Palm Beach Opera Young Artist Program (YAP) targets skills necessary to develop a successful career as an opera performer and helps further the young career of a few select artists. The ideal candidate for this program is an emerging professional artist who is at the crossroads of having participated in previous YAPs or summer apprenticeships and is just at the precipice of beginning a fully-professional career. Women should be between the ages of 20 and 30. Men should be between the ages of 20 and 35. Auditions will be only heard for the following positions with the possible assignments as follows:

Soprano – Sing Frasquita- Carmen; Cover Norina/ Sing Family Performance- Don Pasquale; Sing Najade- Ariadne auf Naxos
Mezzo- Sing Mercedes- Carmen; Cover Composer- Ariadne auf Naxos
Mezzo- Cover Carmen- Carmen; Sing Dryad- Ariadne auf Naxos
Tenor- Sing Remendado/Cover Don Jose- Carmen; Sing Brighella- Ariadne auf Naxos 
Tenor-  Cover Remendado- Carmen; Cover Ernesto/Sing Family Performance- Don Pasquale; Sing Scaramuccio/Cover Tanzmeister- Ariadne auf Naxos
Bass- Cover Zuniga- Carmen; Cover Don Pasquale/Sing Family Performance- Don Pasquale; Sing Truffaldino- Ariadne auf Naxos

Each Young Artist will:

  • Receive primary consideration for main-stage secondary and comprimario roles
  • Cover appropriate role(s) in mainstage productions
  • Perform arias/excerpts of upcoming shows at Young Friends Events and Lunch & Learn
  • Sing concerts in community and attend/perform at donor functions
  • Sing in PBO chorus (when not singing secondary or comprimario roles)
  • Participate in PBO Educational ActivitiesReceive regular coaching with resident and visiting music staff
  • Participate in masterclasses and seminars given by acclaimed guest artists and teachers, sing for managers, etc.

PBO provides each Young Artist with:

  • Monthly stipend
  • Housing or a housing stipend
  • Extra fee per shared recital or other concert event
  • Travel stipend. PLEASE NOTE: Local transportation is the responsibility of each singer and a car is highly recommended.
  • Masterclasses, Professional Workshops,  and Vocal Coaching with a variety of guest artists and teachers arranged by PBO during the period of the contract

Audition Requirements for Singers:

Each person granted an audition for these positions must meet at least TWO of the following:

  • Participant of a high-level summer apprenticeship or resident young artist program over the past TWO seasons
  • Completed performance degree from a respected conservatory or music school
  • Performed a leading role in a mainstage production at their conservatory or music school, if graduated from school within the past TWO seasons
  • Performed a comprimario or featured role in a regional opera company or respected summer apprenticeship program in the past TWO seasons
  • Placed either 1st, 2nd or 3rd in a major vocal competition over the past 3 years
  • Advanced to minimum Regional level in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions over the past 3 years

In addition, each applicant must supply at least ONE current letter of recommendation from an established professional in the opera industry. This cannot be from the artist’s primary private voice teacher.

Singers will be asked to present an aria list of at least 4 pieces in a variety of styles and languages.

Foreign Nationals:

The PBO YAP is open to all young professionals regardless of nationality.  Foreign nationals wishing to apply must either have a valid work visa to the United States for the entire period covering the program or must have already established themselves as a respected young professional artist in their native countries.