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Blog entries tagged with Young Artists

Tenor Ben Bliss on “Whitney”

Photo by Kenneth Dolin

Ben Bliss, one of the newest members of the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, will make his Company debut in just a few weeks as Benvolio in Romeo et Juliette. But he makes his NBC primetime debut tomorrow night, with a guest appearance on the new sitcom Whitney. He’ll even sing! Tune in Thursday at 9:30pm, when lead characters Whitney and Alex compete to see who can be more romantic.

Official show site


Three Singers Join Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program for 2011/12 Season

This season, LA Opera welcomes three new singers to the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program. Bass Erik Anstine (left) will perform the Captain in Eugene Onegin and Frère Jean in Roméo et Juliette, and cover roles in Eugene Onegin, Così fan tutte and Roméo et Juliette. He recently appeared in The Magic Flute and Porgy and Bess with Seattle Opera, after two seasons there as a young artist.

Tenor Ben Bliss (center) performs Benvolio in Roméo et Juliette and Parpignol in La Bohème, also covering the title role in Albert Herring. He studied at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, minoring in vocal performance and performing Albert Herring and Tamino in The Magic Flute at the Chapman Conservatory of Music. After working in television production at Paramount Studios for three years, he recently decided to pursue singing full-time.

Mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier (right) will cover Dorabella in Così fan tutte and Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette. Last season she was a participant in San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera Program, where she recently performed Rosina in The Barber of Seville,  and she has been a studio artist with Chautauqua Opera.

These new additions to the roster join several singers returning for their second seasons in the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program: sopranos Janai Brugger, Tracy Cox and Valentina Fleer; tenor Alexey Sayapin; and baritone Museop Kim.


And The Winner Is… Janai Brugger and the National Council Finals

by Gail Eichenthal, KUSC

My name is Gail Eichenthal and I am a Metropolitan Opera Western Region auditions junkie.

Perhaps, given KUSC’s close involvement in broadcasting the finals concert each year, this was inevitable. My great late friend and former colleague Gene Parrish had forged a wonderful bond with the organization and its remarkably talented contestants going back more than 20 years.  Rich Capparela has effortlessly (well, it’s actually quite challenging work!) taken over for the past three years, and our association with the Western Region has only grown closer; they even honored KUSC at the 2011 Finals Concert in the fall. On top of that, I’m a lifelong choral singer and the proud (stage) mom of a fledgling baritone studying voice in college.

Still that warm Saturday afternoon of October 22 was more thrilling than usual, even for an admitted Western Region groupie.  I had previously heard some of the phenomenally gifted singers the year before; they had also made it to the 2010 Finals. One of them, a brilliant L.A. soprano and alumnus of the Merola program, had stolen the show at the USC Thornton School’s glittering Charles Dickens Dinner, its grand yearly Christmas benefit at the Biltmore’s Crystal Room: you know who you are, Marina Boudart Harris.

As always, all the singers were exquisitely polished and professional; none exhibited the slightest sign of the tremendous pressure they no doubt felt. It was beginning to seem an impossible task for the judges to eliminate even one of these gifted artists from contention. Then, as the invincible longtime Western Region leader Molly Siefert put it later that day, the contestants ran into “a buzzsaw”, a beautiful beaming buzzsaw named Janai Brugger. The soprano, originally from Illinois, broke hearts, pulled tears, provoked gasps, and, well— won.  Her sheer unmitigated joy in singing was infectious. Her pure, soaring tones, almost defied belief.

To none of our surprise, but to all of our delight, she went on to the National Metropolitan Opera Finals this past March. (Go Western Region! Baritone Joseph Lim, another Thornton alum, won the year before, as well!) The 2012 National Met Finals concert airs tomorrow at 10am on Classical KUSC.  Don’t miss it! As for me? I’ve been waiting by the radio for days.

P.S. Please cry no tears for Marina Harris, one of the buzzsaw-afflicted! The Thornton alum has landed a coveted spot in the San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Adler Fellows program. And if my stage mom instincts are right, hers is also a name you will soon come to know on the KUSC airwaves, as both her voice and her major career take flight.)

P.P.S.  Catch soprano Janai Brugger, an LA Opera Domingo-Thornton Young Artist, currently singing the role of Musetta at several performances of the company’s current production of Puccini’s La Boheme. She carried us away at the dress rehearsal, and will do the same tomorrow (May 12) evening and on Sunday, May 20 at 2pm. The May 20 performance of Boheme, conducted by Patrick Summers, will be broadcast live by KUSC, a special edition of LA Opera on Air.

Janai Brugger
Soprano (Darien, IL. Winner of the Western Region)
Age 29

Janai Brugger

Janai Brugger is a second-year artist with Los Angeles Opera’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program. This season’s highlights include Musetta in La Bohème with the Los Angeles Opera, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette for her debut with the Palm Beach Opera, and the First Lady in Die Zauberflöte at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Last season she appeared in Los Angeles as Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro and the Page in Rigoletto. She holds a bachelor’s degree from De Paul University and recently received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan (where she sang Tatiana in Eugene Onegin).

In 2009 she sang Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the “Opera in the Neighborhoods” Program and the following year joined the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program. She was a 2011 finalist in the Loren Zachary Competition and a Midwest Regional (Detroit district) winner of the 2008 Met National Council Auditions.



Domingo-Thornton Young Artists Advance to Met National Council Finals

Soprano Tracy Cox and bass Matthew Anchel have advanced to the final round of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, one of the most prestigious voice competitions in the world. The last stage of the competition will take place in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2013, at a Grand Finals Concert where the finalists will perform with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Tracy Cox

Tracy is in her third season as a member of the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program. She made her LA Opera debut in 2010 as Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro and most recently performed the role of Pisana in the season-opening production of Verdi's The Two Foscari.

While spending the summer at the Music Academy of the West, she was named the 2012 winner of the Marilyn Horne Song Competition, and in 2012, she sang the role of the Second Lady in The Secret Kingdom, conducted by James Conlon at the Colburn School. A former member of the Wolf Trap Opera Studio, she will return to Wolf Trap later this year to sing the role of Alice Ford in Falstaff.

Matthew Anchel

Matthew Anchel was a member of the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program during the 2010/11 season. He made his LA Opera debut as the Fourth Noble in Lohengrin and went on to perform the role of Count Ceprano in Rigoletto, while also covering leading roles in The Marriage of Figaro and The Turk in Italy.

During his season in Los Angeles, he created the role of Dr. Chasuble in the world premiere of Gerald Barry's The Importance of Being Earnest at the LA Philharmonic. He subsequently joined the ensemble of the Leipzig Opera, where he performed numerous roles. Earlier this year, he made his debut with Opera San Jose as Ferrando in Il Trovatore. In April, he will debut with Knoxville Opera as Alidoro in Cinderella (La Cenerentola), and he will return to Opera San Jose next season as Leporello in Don Giovanni and as the Bonze in Madama Butterfly.

The Grand Finals Concert will be hosted by soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, a past National Council Auditions winner is returning to LA Opera in May in the title role of Tosca. Last year, soprano Janai Brugger, who was a member of the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program at the time, was one of the winners of the finals.

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, which are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year, have been an important stepping stone in the career of many of the opera world’s leading artists. Twenty gifted young singers from around the country arrived in New York on February 28 to prepare for a March 3 semi-final round, in which they sang on the Met stage for the first time in their careers before a panel of judges. After deliberations, the panel narrowed the field to ten singers who move to the final phase of the competition on Sunday.

This year’s finalists, all between the ages of 20 and 30 years old, will compete for individual cash prizes of $15,000 each. The finalists were chosen from nearly 1500 singers who participated in the auditions held in 40 districts and 13 regions throughout the United States and Canada, sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council. Given the reach of the auditions, the number of applicants, and the long tradition associated with them, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions are considered the most prestigious in North America for singers seeking to launch an operatic career.