Florida Grand Opera Announces 2022-23 Studio Artists

Top row (left to right): Erin Alford, Mezzo-soprano. Charles Calotta, Tenor. Phillip Lopez, Bass-Baritone. Bottom row (left to right): Joseph McBrayer, Tenor. Page Michels, Soprano. Ashley Shalna, Soprano.
Top row (left to right): Erin Alford, Mezzo-soprano. Charles Calotta, Tenor. Phillip Lopez, Bass-Baritone.
Bottom row (left to right): Joseph McBrayer, Tenor. Page Michels, Soprano. Ashley Shalna, Soprano.

Florida Grand Opera’s 2022-23 Season

The mainstage operas of the season include Domenico Cimarosa’s El matrimonio secreto, sung in Spanish translation (Nov. 12 – 15, 2022), Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Michael Ching’s Buoso’s Ghost (Jan. 28 – Feb.11, 2023), Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca(Mar. 18 – Apr. 15, 2023), and Gioacchino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (Apr. 29 – May 20, 2023).

Extensive national search brings the best in the US to Miami and Fort Lauderdale stages

After an intensive national search and grueling audition process, six award-winning rising stars are arriving in South Florida to form the backbone of Florida Grand Opera’s 2022-23 Season. As members of the prestigious Florida Grand Opera Studio, these young professionals take up residency in Miami to perform mainstage roles, concertize throughout Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, and serve the community as FGO’s opera ambassadors.

Returning after a successful 2021-22 season are soprano Page Michels and tenor Charles Calotta. Last season, Michels appeared as Lucy in Fellow Travelers and A Page in Rigoletto. In 2022, she will open the season alternating with principal artist Vanessa Bercera in the leading role of secret wife Carolina in El matrimonio secreto. She will also essay one of opera’s most famous and beloved arias, “O mio babbino caro,” as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi. After receiving accolades for his performances last season as The Young Collector in A Streetcar Named Desire, Borsa in Rigoletto, and Tommy McIntyre in Fellow Travelers, Calotta will perform the leading role of Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi and Buoso’s Ghost and Scarpia’s evil henchman Spoletta in Tosca.

Four singers join the Studio this season. Soprano Ashley Shalna is a Tampa native and graduate of the University of Florida and the University of Miami. She made her FGO debut in 2021 as Clara in Il signor deluso and returns this season in the roles of Elisetta in El matrimonio secreto, alternating with principal artist Catalina Cuervo, and Nella in Gianni Schicchi and Buoso’s Ghost. Mezzo-soprano Erin Alford, hailing from Long Beach, CA, makes her FGO debut as jealous aunt Fidalma in El matrimonio secreto, La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi and Buoso’s Ghost. Tenor Joseph McBrayer of Dallas, Georgia will debut in the leading role of secret husband Paolino in El matrimonio secreto and as Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi and Buoso’s Ghost. Baritone Phillip Lopez will debut as the deceived father, Geronimo, in El matrimonio secreto, Betto in Gianni Schicchi and Buoso’s Ghost, and the Jailer in Tosca

Each of the 2022-23 Studio Artists are winners of prestigious awards, scholarships, and memberships in exclusive opera training programs.  Michels, Shalna, and Lopez are all District Winners of the Metropolitan Opera Competition and recipients of the competition’s special Encouragement Award. Alford is a two-time District Met Winner. Calotta is a recipient of the Delene Laubenheim McClure Prize and the Michelson Collaborative Arts Award. McBrayer most recently served as a Resident Artist with Indianapolis Opera.

 “I am so excited to have these Studio Artists join us this fall,” said Studio Artist Program Manager Matt Cooksey. “Our group includes well-seasoned artists from all parts of the country and they already have a lot of experience under their belt. We want FGO to be their launch pad into robust main stage careers, and I believe that our full time and guest staff will help elevate this group of singers to be part of the next generation of great opera!”

As the face of opera in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Studio Artists spend the full season performing principal and comprimario roles alongside FGO’s roster of acclaimed directors, conductors, and musicians. They tour Miami-Dade and Broward counties to offer a variety of concerts such as the beloved “SongFest” series, and a touring outreach opera for young audiences, among other events. The Studio Artists are trained by in-house staff and visiting experts on a broad spectrum, with an emphasis on vocal technique, acting, language, repertoire, and best business practices for working singers. FGO also coordinates opportunities for in-house auditions with agents and General Directors, press interviews, and donor relations to prepare them for a life in the opera industry. 

The FGO Studio Artists are directed by stage director Matt Cooksey, under the artistic leadership of Director of Artistic Administration Mitch Roe and General Director and CEO Susan T. Danis. Established in 1984, the FGO Studio enjoys an international reputation as a highly competitive and comprehensive career development program. The young professionals chosen demonstrate extraordinary potential for significant contributions in the field of opera. Alumni of the program include award-winning countertenor Key’Mon Murrah, most recently awarded Finalist and Encouragement Award of Placido Domingo’s international Operalia competition; Grammy Award winning soprano Jessica E. Jones; Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis; Metropolitan Opera tenor Andrew Bidlack; and Miami’s own mezzo-soprano Amanda Crider, founder and Artistic Director of illuminarts.


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