Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program Overview
The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program is conducted as an integral part of Central City Opera’s annual Summer Opera Festival held in Central City, Colorado. Named in honor of a pace-setting endowment gift from the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, the Artists Training Program has become a national model for comprehensive development of young singers.
The 10-week program includes daily opera training in diction and movement, stage combat, makeup and costuming, individual vocal coaching, and sessions in career management such as how to write a resume and maintain a performance portfolio, how to audition in order to succeed, combined with rehearsals and performance opportunities.
There are many places to learn how to sing; there are few places to learn how to be a performing artist. The difference is subtle, but it is a difference on which Central City Opera has built an effective and successful training program perennially sought after by gifted young American singers.
The objectives of the Artists Training Program are to provide participants with:
- comprehensive career preparation, giving equal attention to practical instruction, performance training, individual coaching and counseling
- main stage performing experience, appropriate to individual levels of development, in professional productions attended by reviewers, management representatives, and representatives from other opera companies
The Program offers two levels of training:
- The Apprentice Artist Program is a career-entry program with positions available for approximately 16 singers who have obtained or are pursuing graduate degrees, have some performing experience in school or professional productions, and are ready for secondary roles and to understudy featured and principal roles in main stage productions.
- The Studio Artist Program is intended for singers who demonstrate outstanding potential and who are seeking pre-apprentice experience. Positions are available for approximately 14 singers who are pursuing their education, have some performing experience in school productions, are ready for ensemble and chorus work and, in some instances, to understudy secondary and featured roles in professional productions and scene study culminating in public performances.
The Program offers approximately 30 positions each year, with nearly 1,000 applications for these coveted spots. Trainees receive salaries and benefits and may earn additional performance fees for secondary and featured roles or if called to step in for a singer.
All Program activities take place in Central City in housing, training, and performance facilities owned by the Association. Given the close proximity of these facilities, the Program has sustained its original and unique value – interaction among the trainees, the staff, and the principal singers. Emily Pulley (Studio Artist 1992, Apprentice Artist 1993) here in 2016 as Carmen , said, “What means most to me is the chance to pass on to these kids the same kind of support that the professionals gave me when I was an Apprentice.”
Director of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program
Michael Baitzer was named the Director of the Bonfils-Stanton Artist Training in the fall of 2018. He has been a fixture of the Central City Opera (CCO) music staff since 1999. In addition to his work with CCO, Baitzer is the Head of Music Staff at Washington National Opera. An active coach and collaborative pianist, Baitzer has served on the faculties of premier programs, most recently Wolf Trap Opera Company, The Juilliard School, Spoleto Festival USA and Aspen Music Festival and School.