Chat with us, powered by LiveChat


2018-2019 Season Benenson Young Artist Program

The Benenson Young Artist Program is a stepping stone to a successful career as an opera singer for emerging professional artists. During their five-month residency in Palm Beach, The Benenson Young Artists develop and polish essential stagecraft and performance skills, aided by musical and career guidance from Palm Beach Opera’s experienced artistic and administrative staff, as well as distinguished guest faculty. The Benenson Young Artists appear on the mainstage in supporting roles, cover leading roles, and perform in concerts and special events throughout our community.

The Benenson Young Artist Program is part of a unique three-tiered training system at Palm Beach Opera that includes the Studio Program and the Apprentice Artist program.

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

  • Emily Blair
    Emily Blair
  • Sylvia D’Eramo
    Sylvia D’Eramo
  • Joanna Latini
    Joanna Latini
  • Natalie Rose Havens
    Natalie Rose Havens
  • Robert Stahley
    Robert Stahley
  • Brian Wallin
    Brian Wallin
  • Ben Schaefer
    Ben Schaefer
  • Ted Allen Pickell
    Ted Allen Pickell

Would you like more information about auditions?

For more information about our 2018 Benenson Young Artist Program and auditioning, click here.


Guest Vocal Coaches
Craig Rutenberg
Former Head of Music Administration at the Metropolitan Opera

Anthony Manoli
Mannes College of Music

Danielle Orlando
Curtis Institute & Academy of Vocal Arts

Rachelle Jonck
Teatro Nuovo & Westminster Choir College

Guest Voice Teachers
Stephen King, baritone
Rice University, Houston Grand Opera & Los Angeles Opera

Elizabeth Futral, soprano
Peabody Institute

Guest Diction Coaches
Corradina Caporello, Italian diction
The Juilliard School & Curtis Institute

Kathryn LaBouff, English diction
The Juilliard School & Manhattan School of Music

Stephanie Blythe, mezzo-soprano

Resident Music Staff
David Stern, Chief Conductor
Greg Ritchey, Associate Conductor & Chorus Master
Timothy Cheung, Young Artist Program Head Coach
Ksenia Leletkina, Apprentice Program Coach
Ben Malensek, vocal coach
Anna Fateeva, vocal coach
Cassie Makeeff, vocal coach

2017-2018 Season Benenson Young Artists

Chelsea Bonagura, Soprano
Kasia Borowiec, Soprano
Francesca Aguado, Mezzo-Soprano
Derrek Stark, Tenor
Brian Wallin, Tenor
Joshua Conyers, Baritone
Andrew Richardson, Bass-Baritone
Andrew Simpson, Bass-Baritone

Emily Blair

American soprano, Emily Blair, has performed throughout North America and Europe. She is a graduate of Mannes College The New School for Music in New York City with a master’s degree in Vocal Performance, under the tutelage of Professor Amy Burton.

In 2017, Emily was named Semi-Finalist in both the Young Patronesses of Opera Competition and the Opera Birmingham Competition. She is also honored to be returning to Portland to sing Angelica in Handel’s Orlando with Ping and Woof Opera later this season.

In 2016, Miss Blair joined Portland Opera singing The Mother in Hansel and Gretel in their outreach program. She also joined the CoOperative program as a Fellow, where she studied with Susan Ashbaker, Gina Lapinski and Nova Thomas

Sylvia D’Eramo

Sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. William G. Brown

Sylvia D’Eramo “the very promising soprano” (Opera News), is a graduate of the Yale School of Music. In the 2017/2018 season, she appeared as Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with Yale Opera. Sylvia appeared on the concert stage as the soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with Marvin Concert Series in her home state Texas, and as the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Yale Philharmonia under the baton of Maestro Marin Alsop. This summer she will join the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Singer Program for the 2018 season. Sylvia recently sang the role of Abigail Williams on Albany Record’s new recording of Robert Ward’s The Crucible.  In 2017, Sylvia won second place in the Lois Alba Aria Competition, and she won an encouragement award from the Career Bridges Foundation. During her time at Purchase she performed the roles of Abigail Williams in The Crucible, and Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro.Before attending Yale, she received a Bachelor of Music degree from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music. Sylvia studies with Doris Yarick-Cross.

Joanna Latini

Sponsored by Drs. Marsha & Henry Laufer

Soprano Joanna Latini, a New Jersey native, is quickly making a name for herself on both the operatic and concert stage for her informed and passionate performances. She is a winner of the 2018 Central Region Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and will move on to compete in the semi-finals in New York.

In the 2017 – 2018 season, Ms. Latini joins Kentucky Opera as an artist in their Barbara and Halsey Sandford Studio Artist Program. During residency there, she will perform the role of Naiad in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, cover Kitty Hart in Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and sing Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel with the Lexington Philharmonic. Following her stint with Kentucky Opera, she will return to Resonance Works Pittsburgh and sing the role of the Kitchen Boy in Dvořák’s Rusalka.

In the summer of 2017, Ms. Latini was a member of the Apprentice Singer Program at The Santa Fe Opera where she covered Morgana in Handel’s Alcina. In the Apprentice Scenes, Ms. Latini sang Nannetta in Verdi’s Falstaff and Oscar in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. Additionally, she was one of fourteen singers featured in Justice at the Opera with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In the summer of 2016, Ms. Latini was a member of the Wolf Trap Opera Studio, where she covered Lucia in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and Musetta in Puccini’s La bohème. In the Studio Spotlight scenes program, she sang Adina in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and Blondchen in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Additionally, Ms. Latini was a featured soloist in the “America the Beautiful” concert with the National Symphony Orchestra in the Filene Center, singing the Liebeslieder from Sondheim’s A Little Night Music.

During the summers of 2015 and 2014, Ms. Latini was an Apprentice Artist at the Miami Music Festival, where she sang the roles of Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel and Erste Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, respectively. In addition to opera performances, she was found singing in masterclasses, at the Barry Hotel in downtown Miami, in Zarzuela concerts, and on stage at the New World Center with the Miami Music Festival Orchestra.

Under the baton of Maestro Richard Bado, Ms. Latini performed as Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Helena in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and in the Jazz Trio in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. At Carnegie Mellon, she was seen as Clarice in Haydn’s Il mondo della luna, and as Princesse Laoula in Chabrier’s L’étoile. As part of a special collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh Opera, Ms. Latini premiered the role of Amara in Arnaldos’ For the Time Being.

On the concert stage, Ms. Latini has been the featured soloist in numerous oratorio works, including Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Mozart’s Requiem, Honegger’s Le Roi David, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Faure’s Requiem, and Handel’s Messiah.

Ms. Latini received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University and her Master of Music degree from Rice University. She is a student of Dr. Barbara Clark.

Natalie Rose Havens

Sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. L. David Callaway

Natalie Rose Havens, Mezzo-soprano, was most recently seen this summer as the Mezzo in Philip Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox with Chautauqua Opera. Recent roles have included Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana with Martha Cardona Opera in New York City’s Merkin Hall. Natalie has also been seen as The Marquise of Berkenfield in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment with Opera North. Other roles include the Old Prioress in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites with UNCG Opera, the title role in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier with Harrower Opera, Miss Todd in Menotti’s Old Maid and the Thief, Harriett in The Clever Artifice of Harriett and Margaret (Scenes Competition Winner for National Opera Association), Scribe/Maria Magdalena in Phillip Glass’s Galileo Galilei, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!, and Marian Paroo in The Music Man. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree from The Florida State University and a Masters degree from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She currently resides in New York City.

Robert Stahley

Sponsored by Mrs. Lois Pope

Tenor Robert Stahley, known for his performances that “stole the show” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), is making waves throughout the operatic industry.  Upcoming engagements include the title role in Candide, the tenor soloist in Schubert’s Mass in A-flat, and a debut with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra as Pang in Turandot.  He recently appeared with Opera Theater of Saint Louis as multiple roles in The Grapes of Wrath while study-covering Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly.  He has also been a studio Artist with Wolf Trap Opera where he covered the role of Rodolfo (La Boheme) and Male Chorus (The Rape of Lucretia).  Other significant roles include Idomeneo (Idomeneo), The Schoolmaster (The Cunning Little Vixen), Charlie (Mahagonny-Songspiel), The Lamplighter and Drunk (The Little Prince), Sam Kaplan (Street Scene), Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi), and Hubert Humphrey (Dark River).

Equally comfortable on the concert stage, Mr. Stahley recently made his Indianapolis Symphony debut singing arias from operas such as Tosca and Die Zaubeflöte.  He has also been the tenor soloist for Jeanne d’Arc au bucher and appeared in several operatic scenes, such as Edgardo (Lucia di Lammermoor), Hoffmann (Les contes d’Hoffmann), The Duke (Rigoletto), and Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly).

Mr. Stahley is currently completing his Artist Diploma at The University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music.  He holds a M.M. from CCM and  B.M. from UMass Amherst.  He has bowed with opera companies such as Opera Theater of St. Louis, Wolf Trap Opera, Cincinnati Chamber Opera, and Cincinnati Opera.

Brian Wallin

Sponsored in part by Ms. Carol O’Malley & Mr. Nick Harry

Hailed by the Dallas Morning News as having a “finely focused and well-mannered” voice, Brian Wallin has recently completed his second summer as a Young Artist with The Glimmerglass Festival, making appearances in West Side Story, The Cunning Little Vixen, and Kevin Puts’ Silent Night. The upcoming season includes appearing in West Side Story with Lyric Opera of
Kansas City and Atlanta Opera. Wallin will then return to Palm Beach Opera as a second year Benenson Young Artist performing Gastone in La traviata and covering Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni. Wallin will appear in the world premiere of The Fix with Minnesota Opera and as the tenor soloist in St. Matthew Passion with Shreveport Symphony. Recent engagements include Spoletta in Tosca (Palm Beach Opera) Vanderdendur in Candide (Palm Beach Opera), Editor Daily in The Cradle Will Rock (Opera Saratoga), Third Jew in Salome (The Minnesota Orchestra), and The King of El Dorado in Candide (Opéra National de Bordeaux and Théâtre du Capitole). Recent concert engagements include St. John Passion with Lyric Opera of the North and Carmina Burana with the Atlanta Ballet. Wallin proudly received his B.M. fromthe University of Maryland and his M.M. from the Maryland Opera Studio.

Ben Schaefer

Sponsored by Drs. Marsha & Henry Laufer

Ben Schaefer is a baritone from Clive, Iowa who is currently pursuing his Master of Music at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University where he will be performing the role of John Brooke this fall in their production of Little Women. During his time there he has also performed the roles of Jazz Trio and Guccio in Trouble in Tahiti and Gianni Schicchi. This summer he will be joining the Aspen Summer Music Festival as a member of their Opera Center. Mr. Schaefer also performed as a member of Des Moines Metro Opera’s Apprentice Artist Program, where he recently covered the role of Young Galileo in Philip Glass’s Galileo Galilei.  As a member of their Apprentice Artist Program, Ben also performed scenes from Don PasqualeDie Zauberflöte, La Cenerentola, and Of Mice and Men. He participated in Arizona Opera and ASU’s inaugural Winter Vocal Academy in January of 2016.  Mr. Schaefer has also been seen on stage as Il Postiglione in La Fanciulla del West and the Older Brother in Dead Man Walking at Des Moines Metro Opera.

Mr. Schaefer has been seen on the concert stage, performing as the soloist in Brahm’s Requiem, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, and Handel’s Messiah. He was also recently the recipient of 2nd Place and the Sylvia Busse Award in the Houston Saengerbund Competition for German singing.

Mr. Schaefer received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Simpson College, where he performed as Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, the title character in Gianni Schicchi, Giove in La calisto, Billy Bigelow in Carousel, and the Ferryman in Curlew River, among other roles.  This past winter he appeared as the Bass Soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Central Iowa Symphony. During his time at Simpson, Ben was the recipient of an Honors Recital, the Sven and Mildred Lekberg Award, the Douglas Duncan Music Award, and the Ann Larsen Music Scholarship.

Ted Allen Pickell

Sponsored by Mrs. Roseanne Williams

Hailed for his “powerful voice” (CASA Magazine) and “tremendous” singing (San Diego Reader), bass-baritone Ted Allen Pickell is a distinguished and accomplished young artist on the rise.

This 2018/19 season, Mr. Pickell will join the Palm Beach Opera Benenson Young Artist Program, where he will cover the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni, as well as perform the role of the Marquis in Verdi’s La Traviata. Additional engagements include a return to the title role in The Mikado with Bodhi Tree Concerts.

In the 2017/18 season, Mr. Pickell made his San Diego Operadebut as Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, alongside Greer Grimsley as the Pirate King. Additional engagements included a return to the title role in The Mikado with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, and spending the summer of 2018 at the San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera Program, where he sang the role of Father Trulove in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. Mr. Pickell also joined the San Diego Opera’s Apprentice Artist training program for singers, where he performed in selections from Faust and Billy Budd.

He was also a San Diego District winner, as well as the Audience Choice Award winner, of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, an award winner in the Loren. L Zachary competition, a semi-finalist in the George London Foundation, and the winner of the “Most Promising Singer” award from the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus vocal competition.

In the 2016/17 season, Mr. Pickell appeared as the title role in The Mikado with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, Der Vater in Hänsel und Gretel with Point Loma Opera Theatre, The Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk and Basilio in The Barber of Seville with Opera Iowa’s young artist outreach ensemble, and joined Des Moines Metro Opera’s roster of Apprentice Artists, where he sang Arthur Jones and study covered the role of John Claggart in Billy Budd, and performed the role of Nick Shadow in scenes from Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. Mr. Pickell also performed as a soloist in the Margo Garrett Master Class at Carnegie Hall, as part of Marilyn Horne’s The Song Continues.

Other notable operatic performances include Blitch in Susannah, Sam in Trouble in Tahiti, The Warden in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking and the title role in Mozart’s The Impresario with the Northwestern University Opera Theatre, covering Zuniga in Carmen and singing Micha in The Bartered Bride with Music Academy of the West, Leporello in Don Giovanni with Point Loma Opera Theatre, Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Opera Academy of California, Mars in Orpheus in the Underworld, Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Armed Man in The Magic Flute, all with the University of the Pacific Opera Theatre.

On the concert stage Mr. Pickell has sung the bass soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, the featured soloist in Dougherty’s 3 Folk Songs with the Music Academy of the West, Handel’s Brocke’s Passion and Britten’s St. Cecelia at the University of the Pacific.

Mr. Pickell is a winner of the 2016 & 2017 MONC Western Region San Diego district, the recipient of an encouragement award from the 2015 MONC Central Regional finals, a 2014 Ryan Opera Center finalist, the winner of the Anne Ferraro Stone Memorial Award from the Bel Canto Foundation, and the recipient of scholarships for excellence in vocal performance from Northwestern University and the University of the Pacific.

Mr. Pickell is a recent graduate of the Masters in Vocal Performance at Northwestern University. He received his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from University of the Pacific.

Navigation Menu