THE BENENSON YOUNG ARTIST PROGRAM
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 Benenson 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.
The Benenson Young Artist Program is funded by The Edward H. Benenson Foundation.
KASIA BOROWIEC – SOPRANO
Sponsored by Teeda and Salvatore Nuzzo
Soprano Kasia Borowiec joins the Young Artist Program at Palm Beach Opera where she will cover the role of Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly and sing the roles of the Page in Rigoletto and Isabel in The Pirates of Penzance. This summer, she was a member of the Apprentice Singer Program at Santa Fe Opera. During the 2015-2016 season, Kasia was an Artist in Residence at Dayton Opera, where she sang the role Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and covered the role of Desdemona in Otello. She also performed in two outreach school tours (Shakespeare Sings! And Cooking Up Opera) and collaborated with members of the Dayton Philharmonic in a chamber recital at the Dayton Art Institute. In the 2015, Kasia was a studio artist at Chautauqua Opera, where she sang the Second Apparition in Macbeth. In 2014, she made her Philadelphia debut as Tatiana in Eugene Onegin with Russian Opera Workshop at the Academy of Vocal Arts. Her other operatic credits include Marguerite in Faust, Giulietta in I Capuleti e I Montecchi, and covering the role of Female Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia all at Manhattan School of Music, First Lady in The Magic Flute with New York Lyric Opera Theatre and Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw with the Bay Area Summer Opera Theatre Institute. In 2013, Kasia also sang the role of Angel More in Manhattan School of Music’s production of The Mother of Us All. Kasia was also a young artist at The CoOPERAtive Program in Princeton, NJ. Originally from Summit, NJ, Kasia holds degrees from Columbia University (B.A.) and Manhattan School of Music (M.M.). In 2011, she also studied at L’Accademia Internazionale della Musica in Milan, Italy. She is the recipient of the Richard and Brooke L. Rapaport Prize for Summer Music Study from Columbia University and a Chautauqua Opera Guild Award. Kasia currently resides in New York City where she studies with Nikki Li Hartliep.
JESSICA FISHENFELD – SOPRANO
Sponsored by Roseanne Williams
Soprano Jessica Fishenfeld hails from Great Neck, New York, and returns to Palm Beach Opera as a second-year Young Artist, singing the roles of Mabel (The Pirates of Penzance Family Performance) and Kate Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly), and covering Gilda (Rigoletto). Last season, she made her company debut in the roles of Frasquita (Carmen), Najade (Ariadne auf Naxos), and Norina (Don Pasquale Family Performance). Other recent credits include the title role in Lakmé and Zerlina in Don Giovanni at Manhattan School of Music; Zerlina in Dona Vaughn’s masterclass “Don Giovanni: Love is a Battlefield” at the Metropolitan Opera Guild; Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro at Miami Summer Music Festival; Tytania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Annina (La Traviata) at Highlands Opera Studio; and Adele (Die Fledermaus) at NYU Steinhardt. Jessica was a finalist in the 2015 Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Vocal Competition.
TARA CURTIS – MEZZO SOPRANO
Mezzo-soprano, Tara Curtis, is quickly establishing herself as an” impressively full-voiced, dramatic” singer of operatic and concert repertoire. She joins Palm Beach Opera’s Young Artist Program for the first time this season, covering the role of Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, singing the role of Giovanna and covering the role of Maddalena in Rigoletto and singing the role of Kate while covering/singing the family performance of Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance. She just recently finished covering the role of Azucena in Il Trovatore with St. Petersburg Opera. This past summer, she returned to San Francisco as a member of the Merola Opera Program. She was also a member of the Studio Artist program at Sarasota Opera’s 2016 winter festival, where she covered the role of Amneris in Aida and sang the role of Imelda in La Battaglia di Legnano. Role highlights include Lucretia in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, Cornelia in Handel’sGiulio Cesare, Zita in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Mrs. Herring in Britten’s Albert Herring, Mother Marie in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, Third Lady in Mozart’s Magic Flute, Inez in Verdi’s Il Trovatore, and Berta in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Tara has been a Merola Opera Career Grant winner, a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan National Council Auditions – Midwest Division and a second-place winner in the art song division of The American Prize.
DANIELLE MACMILLAN – MEZZO SOPRANO
Sponsored by Drs. Marsha and Henry Laufer
Returning to Palm Beach Opera, Danielle is known for her “deep plumy sound” Paula Citron, Classical 96.3fm and “a good foil” Opera in Review, Opera Canada, Toronto native Danielle MacMillan was a member of the COCs Ensemble Studio. Ms. MacMillan made her COC debut as the Second Niece in Britten’s Peter Grimes. She holds a BFA honors in classical vocal performance from York University with additional training at IVAI Istituzione Teatro Lirico Sperimentale di Spoleto, and The Glenn Gould School (GGS). Her credits include Diana in Cavalli’s La Calisto, Second Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Véronique in Bizet’s Le Docteur Miracle (GGS). During the 2014 season at the COC Ms. MacMillan also appeared as Dorabella in the Ensemble Studio performance of Cosí fan Tutte: “Act 2’s Danielle MacMillan has a bright sound and beautiful legato phrasing with spinto qualities that speak to heavier roles in the future. It is a surprisingly big voice at this early stage of a career” Paula Citron. Ms. MacMillan recently completed her first year as Young Artist at Palm Beach Opera.
Derrek Stark, tenor, is a native of Bath NY. He holds a Bachelors of Music from Mansfield University, PA, with additional studies at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, IN where he studied with Carol Vaness. A recent member of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s Young Artist Program, Derrek made his company debut as the Huntsman (Rusalka) and Remendado (Carmen). Returning to Santa Fe for his second season, Derrek covered Flamand (Capriccio) and sang Harry (Fanciulla del West). This fall, Derrek will join the roster of the Benenson Young Artist at Palm Beach opera where he will cover Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly), and Duke (Rigoletto). Previous performance credits include: Rodolfo (La bohème) with Opera Experience Southeast, and Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi) with Pennsylvania Lyric Opera. Conservatory roles include: Peter Quint, The Turn of the Screw; Tamino, Die Zauberflöte (UMKC); Rodolfo, La bohème; Alfredo, La Traviata; and Fenton, Falstaff(IU).
SPENCER VIATOR – TENOR
Sponsored by Sue and Paul Efron
Spencer Viator is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended the College Conservatory of Music (CCM) in Cincinnati for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. During his time at CCM he had the pleasure to of performing a multitude of roles including Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola, Monostatos in The Magic Flute, Daniel Buchanan in Street Scene and King Ouf in L’Etoile. Spencer was a prestigious Gerdine Young Artist with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for the past two seasons. There he sang both Streznik in The Kiss and 1st Priest in The Magic Flute. He also covered Beppe in I Pagliacci and L’Aumonier in The Dialogues of the Carmelites. Just recently out of his master degree Spencer also made his New York City debut as Liverotto in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia with LOFTOpera. A promoter of new works and new music Spencer has worked closely with composers like Ricky Ian Gordon, the composer of Morning Star in which Spencer sang Soldier Hymie in the World Premiere with Cincinnati Opera.
JOSHUA CONYERS – BARITONE
Baritone Joshua Conyers joins the Young Artist Program this year. In 2015, Mr. Conyers joined Piedmont Opera for their production of Rigoletto (Ceprano and Rigoletto cover) and returned in 2016 for the company’s Tosca (Sciarrone and Scarpia cover). In 2016 Mr. Conyers also covered the title role of Falstaff for Des Moines Metro Opera, joined Opera Iowa for Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, and performed the roles of Baritone 2, Isabella, and King in Cinderella in Spain, a new opera by Mary Carol Warwick premiered by the Robeson County Arts Council. He has performed with companies such as Indiana University Opera and Ballet Theater, Utah Festival Opera, and Piedmont Opera. Mr. Conyers covered the roles of Mr. Umeya in the American premiere of Huang Ruo’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and Walt Whitman in the world premiere of Theodore Morrison’s Oscar, both with the Santa Fe Opera. Mr. Conyers holds a Performance Artist Certificate from the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute, a Masters of Music from Indiana University, and a Bachelors of Music from University of North Carolina School of the Arts. His numerous vocal competition credits and scholarships include the A.J. Fletcher Scholarship in Music, the Kenan Excellence Award in Music, the Shivers Foundation Scholarship, Metropolitan Opera National Council District Winner (2010, 2011 and 2015), Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Encouragement Award Winner, S. Livingston Mather Scholar Competition 1st Place Winner, the Charlotte Opera Guild Competition Winner, the Heafner/Williams Vocal Competition 1st place Winner, and National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Award Winner.
Andrew Simpson, bass-baritone, is in his first year of residency with the Palm Beach Opera where he will be singing the Imperial Commissioner and covering Bonze inMadama Butterfly, Count Ceprano and covering Monterone in Rigoletto, and covering the Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance. He has recently completed his young artist residency with the Chicago Opera Theater, and the Santa Fe Opera where he sang The Footman in Vanessa, by Samuel Barber, as well as covering Sid in La Fanciulla del West, and Masetto in Don Giovanni. Recent work includes productions with COT singing chorus in Lucio Silla, covering Macduff in Ernest Bloch’s Macbeth, Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Seagle Music Colony, Angelotti in Tosca with the Wichita Grand Opera, and young artist work with the Central City Opera, singing chorus in Deadman Walking and Le nozze di Figaro. Andrew received his Masters of Music from Wichita State where he performed principle roles in Susannah, Il campanello di notte, Pirates of Penzance, Il viaggio a Reims, and L’incoronazione di Poppea. Other work includes productions of Il Trovatore, Don Pasquale, and Guillaume Tell with the Wichita Grand Opera as well as Il Trovatore with the Fort Worth Opera. Other upcoming work: Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia at Opera in the Rock, in Little Rock, AR.
Continue to check back for further cast and sponsor updates.
Cory Battey, Coach and Pianist
Alexandra Naumenko, Coach and Pianist
Guest Voice Teacher
Betsy Bishop, mezzo soprano
Guest Vocal Coaches
Rachelle Jonck, Head Coach and Assistant Conductor at Caramoor and Westminster Choir College
Danielle Orlando, Principal Opera Coach, Curtis Institute and Academy of Vocal Arts
Stuart Skelton, Tenor
Dona D. Vaughn, Artistic Director- Manhattan School of Music and PORT Opera
Ron Raines, Baritone
Jay Lesenger, Former General Director of Chautauqua Opera; Stage Director of Rigoletto
David Stern, PBO Chief Conductor (Madama Butterfly and The Pirates of Penzance)
Antonello Allemandi (Rigoletto)
Sam Helfrich (Madama Butterfly)
Jay Lesenger (Rigoletto)
Bill Fabris (The Pirates of Penzance)