The Benenson Young Artist Program

The Benenson Young Artist Program at Palm Beach Opera 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.

The Benenson Young Artist Program is funded by The Edward H. Benenson Foundation.

American Soprano Jessica Fishenfeld joins Palm Beach Opera’s Young Artist Program this season, singing the roles of Frasquita (Carmen), Najade (Ariadne auf Naxos), and covering/singing the family performance of Norina in Don Pasquale. Recent credits include Lakmé 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, receiving accolades for her “crystalline and pure” voice and “spot on comedic timing” at Miami Summer Music Festival; Tytania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Annina (La Traviata) with Highlands Opera Studio; Musetta cover (La Bohème) at North Shore Music Festival; Adele (Die Fledermaus), and Clara (The Light in the Piazza) at NYU Steinhardt; Dew Fairy/Gretel cover (Hansel and Gretel) with Hubbard Hall Opera Theatre. She is a finalist in the 2015 Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Vocal Competition.

Liana Guberman Headshot

Soprano Liana Guberman, from New York, NY, is a second-year Young Artist with Palm Beach Opera for the 2015-2016 season, where she will sing Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos and cover Micaëla in Carmen. During the 2014-2015 Palm Beach Opera season, Liana covered Mimì in La Bohème and covered Masha and sang Hannah in the world premiere of Ben Moore’s Enemies, A Love Story. In 2015, Liana sang Lia in Debussy’s L’enfant prodigue directed by Anthony Laciura and conducted by Sesto Quatrini with new opera company, Bare Opera in NYC. In 2014, Liana was a Fellow at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA where she covered Micaëla in Carmen and sang the soprano solo in Mahler’s 4th Symphony with the MAW faculty orchestra and conductor James Gaffigan. Other recent roles include: Mimì (La Bohème) and Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro) with Loft Opera, and Parasha (Mavra) and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) with Mannes Opera. Liana recently won the St. Louis district of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and advanced to the Midwest regional auditions in February 2015. She is also a 2015 grant winner of the Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition.  Sponsored in part by Mickey and Allan Greenblatt, Ruth Nelson Kraft Foundation

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.

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.

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. Sponsored by Teeda and Salvatore Nuzzo

Jason Duika

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 Fledermaus. Sponsored by Estelle Fassler, In Memory of Leon Fassler with additional support from the Ruth Nelson Kraft Foundation

Andrew Bogard hails from central Ohio and recently graduated with a Master of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, and holds a Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School. Operatic highlights include Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress, Alidoro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Dulcamara in L’Elisir d’Amore, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Simone in Gianni Schicchi, and Colline in La Bohème. Andrew has sung numerous roles with Opera Philadelphia, Curtis Institute of Music, Ballet Opera Pantomime (Montreal), and Chautauqua Music Festival and School. Oratorio performances include Jesus/bass soloist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, bass soloist in Handel’s Messiah, and Raphael/Adam in Haydn’s The Creation. Andrew won first place in the 2014 Mario Lanza Scholarship Competition, and was a Mid-Atlantic regional finalist and encouragement award recipient in the 2015 MET Competition.

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.