On June 30 Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts welcomed the Wolf Trap Opera Summer 2020 residency program cohort consisting of 18 Filene Artists, 17 Studio Artists and five Fellows. They joined Wolf Trap Opera (WTO) from across the country and around the globe for six weeks of operatic study and training. Most travelled to Vienna, VA and entered into a two-week quarantine period before in-person rehearsals began; a few were unable to join on-site but will participate in virtual coaching sessions and career development.
This year, each artist will focus on the WTO training model principles even more intently, furthering their professional development in a concentrated manner with professional music staff and guest directors. The intensified program is designed to allow increased study into the crafts of musicianship and performance, to explore the historical context of their roles, delve further into character development, and refine language skills (diction and translation) – all of which are critical to the career of a professional operatic artist.
Wolf Trap Opera has developed a number of new procedures for this year’s cohort. Starting with their arrival in Vienna, VA, the artists, along with administrative and music staff, immediately began a two-week quarantine in individual hotel rooms to ensure that no one had been exposed to COVID-19 during their travels and to create a bubble for the entire company.
During the initial two-week quarantine period, artists participated in virtual coaching and group sessions with an impressive list of guest alumni and faculty. Guest WTO alumni instructors include 2020 Filene Artist in Residence Denyce Grave (’89), Eric Owens (’94, ’95), Christine Goerke (’95), Tamara Wilson (’08), Jamie Barton (’09), Michelle DeYoung (’95), David Portillo (’09, ’10), Ryan McKinny (’06, ’08), and Kate Lindsey (’05, ’07) plus legendary opera soprano, Renée Fleming.
Once the two-week quarantine period was lifted, the artists moved into in-person work to rehearse scenes and record them for broadcast. In addition to individual coaching and role development, the artists will work in small groups on new performance to be recorded and streamed over the summer. These projects include Love: Surrender, scenes from La bohème and Eugene Onegin; The Orpheus Project; Into The Woods, Aria Jukebox, the audience gets to choose!, a Master Class with Denyce Graves, and the annual Studio Spotlight.
The residency program has been redesigned, taking into account information from the CDC, the Commonwealth of Virginia health officials, and from colleagues in the field worldwide. Wolf Trap Opera’s residency establishes clear health standards for artists while still providing a quality training experience from WTO professional staff and opera luminaries.
All artists are required to observe increased social distancing and to wear masks on-site at all times when not singing. Ensemble size, smaller capacities in room spaces and amplified social distancing have implemented to create the safest environment possible for rehearsals. On-site rehearsals begin with a daily health screening including a temperature check and symptom questionnaire prior to entering any Wolf Trap facility, indoor or outdoor. Wolf Trap Opera is utilizing its available outdoor spaces to the full extent possible during the summer residency.
In response to not being able to gather for performances this summer, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts is offering a complement of streaming performances under the banner of Wolf Trap Sessions. Wolf Trap Sessions will offer pre-recorded streaming performances in three areas: UNTRAPPED Online, which brings back some favorite WTO productions and will offer newly-recorded performances from this summer’s talented Filene and Studio Artists; Park Pop-Ups featuring performances by some favorite local artists; and Field Trip Fridays, which features family-friendly pre-recorded performances for kids of all ages along with parent resources. Dates for new streaming videos are frequently being added. A full and up-to-date listing of online performances can be found at https://www.wolftrap.org/calendar.aspx.
WTO UNTRAPPED Online streaming offerings include:
· The Touchstone by Gioacchino Rossini, began streaming on June 9
· The Juniper Tree by Philip Glass and Robert Moran, began streaming on June 23
· Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod, streaming July 7
· Aria Jukebox, the audience gets to choose!, voting for arias to be performed will occur between July 7 and July 14, performance on July 18 at 7:00 p.m.*
· Bastianello by John Musto, streaming July 21
· Master Class with Denyce Graves, live stream July 22 at 11:00 a.m.*
· Merlin’s Island, by Christoph Willibald Gluck, streaming August 4
· Idomeneo by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, streaming August 18
· The Emperor of Atlantis, by Viktor Ullmann, streaming September 1
Also, as part of UNTRAPPED Online, newly recorded performances featuring Summer 2020 Wolf Trap Opera artists. Release dates for these streaming shows in August and September are to be announced.
· Love: Surrender, scenes from La bohème and Eugene Onegin with 2020 Filene Artists*
· The Orpheus Project, scenes from various settings of the myth of Orpheus *
· Into The Woods, opera scenes that embrace Wolf Trap National Park *
· Studio Spotlight featuring 2020 Studio Artists*
*denotes new recordings made with Summer 2020 WTO artists
Named for Wolf Trap’s founder, Catherine Filene Shouse, WTO’s Filene Artists are already on their way toward significant careers. Many alumni credit WTO with preparing and propelling them down the path to success. Unlike most residency programs, WTO casts all leading and featured roles with emerging artists. Filene Artists get to experience the rigorous demands, and of course the thrill, of performing center stage in original productions tailored specifically for them.
The most dramatic evidence of WTO’s artist-driven philosophy is its audition and casting process. WTO is one of the only companies in the world to select the singers first, and then select program repertoire that caters to the individual artists’ strengths and challenges their boundaries.
Filene Artists are at a critical point between completing their academic training and pursuing their full-time professional careers. They have recently finished graduate or professional degree programs from the top music schools in the country and have often participated in year-long young artist companies or summer apprenticeships. Many of them have already won prestigious awards and are on their way to significant careers.
This year’s participants consists of many new artists and several returning individuals. The 2020 Filene Artists include:
· Christopher Bozeka, Tenor, Akron, OH (Returning)
· Jonathan Bryan, Baritone, Dallas, TX (former Studio Artist)
· Kidon Choi, Baritone, Seoul, South Korea (Returning, participating remotely)
· Chanáe Curtis, Soprano, Washington, D.C.
· Thomas Glass, Baritone, Edina, MN (Returning, former Studio Artist)
· Mackenzie Gotcher, Tenor, Detroit, MI (Returning)
· Megan Esther Grey, Mezzo-soprano, Cedar Falls, IA (Returning)
· Calvin Griffin, Bass-baritone, Columbus, OH (Returning, former Studio Artist, participating remotely)
· Shannon Jennings, Soprano, Orlando, FL (Returning, former Studio Artist)
· Gretchen Krupp, Mezzo-soprano, Woodbridge, VA (Former Studio Artist)
· Yunuet Laguna, Soprano, Zacatecas, Mexico
· Leia Lensing, Mezzo-soprano, Solon, IA
· Conor McDonald, Baritone, Minneapolis, MN (Returning)
· Brian Michael Moore, Tenor, Cincinnati, OH
· Nicholas Newton, Bass-baritone, San Diego, CA (Former Studio Artist)
· Alexandra Nowakowski, Soprano, Chicago, IL (Returning, former Studio Artist)
· Wm. Clay Thompson, Bass, Lexington, KY (Former Studio Artist)
· Ann Toomey, Soprano, Shelby Township, MI (Participating remotely)
Through its Studio Artist program, WTO selects a group of young singers each year with significant potential who are current undergraduate juniors or seniors, or who are currently enrolled in a Master’s program. During this important period in their professional training, WTO provides them with the professional and academic opportunities to take their talents to a higher level and to cultivate and polish the skills needed to present themselves with confidence and authority in a very competitive field.
The Studio Artists selected by WTO participate in a skill-enhancing and career-building curriculum designed especially for them to advance their audition and performance techniques, personal artistry and the business aspects of being a singer. Studio Artists gain invaluable professional experience by performing in small roles and choruses, presenting their own scenes program, as well as covering larger roles in WTO’s main-stage operas and recitals.
The 2020 Studio Artists are comprised of:
· Justin Burgess, Baritone, South Lyon, MI (Returning)
· Blake Denson, Baritone, Paducah, KY (Returning)
· Julia Gershkoff, Soprano, North Kingstown, RI
· Saane Halaholo, Soprano, Orinda, CA
· Jeremy Harr, Bass, Grosse Pointe, MI (Returning)
· Mary Hoskins, Soprano, Saratoga Springs, UT
· Samuel Kidd, Baritone, Ann Arbor, MI
· Fran Daniel Laucerica, Tenor, Miami, FL
· Brittany Logan, Soprano, Garden Grove, CA
· Cory McGee, Bass, Stafford, VA (Returning)
· Tayte Mitchell, Tenor, Vulcan, Alberta, Canada
· Wayd Odle, Tenor, North Platte, NE
· Jazmine Olwalia, Mezzo-soprano, Fort Worth, TX
· Alex Peart, Mezzo-soprano, Titusville, NJ
· Virginia Reed, Mezzo-soprano, Albany, NY
· Hayden Smith, Tenor, Quakertown, PA
· Emily Treigle, Mezzo-soprano, New Orleans, LA
Additionally, four 2020 Fellows join the Filene and Studio Artists. They consist of:
· Yuri Aoki, Coaching, Tokyo, Japan
· Rose Freeman, Directing, Appleton, WI
· Alex Munger, Coaching, Milwaukee, WI
· Sarah Jane Pelzer, Directing, Victoria, BC, Canada (Participating remotely)
· William Woodard, Coaching, Normal, IL
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