Did You Know? The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program

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Experience Central City Opera with an inside look at the festival’s history, performances, and people.


Every summer, young singers from across the country, and often across the world, to sing at the Central City Opera Festival in the heart of Colorado. These are the members of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, a summer-long young artist program that Central City Opera facilitates every year. These singers, typically ranging in age from 21-30, are often at beginning their professional careers; some are completing Bachelor or Master degrees while others are in year-round young artists programs and still others are already performing professionally at various opera companies.

The program is split into two levels of training, the Studio Artist Program and the Apprentice Artist Program. The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Studio Artists are typically between the ages of 21 and 25. They perform in the ensembles of the mainstage productions, cover secondary and featured roles in mainstage productions, perform in the one act productions, and perform in the Short Works opera scene programs. The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artists, who are usually between the ages of 24 and 30, also perform in the ensembles of mainstage productions, in addition to performing secondary roles in mainstage productions, covering featured and lead roles in mainstage productions, and perfoming in the one act productions.

DSC_0042 The program was established in 1978 by Artistic Director Emeritus John Moriarty and it has an impressive list of alumni, including baritones Michael Mayes and David Adam Moore, performing this season as Escamillo in Carmen and Guglielmo in Cosí fan tutte respectively, and soprano Emily Pulley, who is performing the title role in this season’s production of Carmen. The singers that come to Central City Opera are the best of the best – every year, nearly 1,000 people apply for a mere 30-32 spots available.

DSC_0311A day in the life of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program is busy, to say the least. In the morning, the singers take classes in acting, diction, movement, stage combat, and audition preparation. After that, they have rehearsals for the mainstage shows and the one acts. Squeezed into the remaining hours are individual coachings, preparations for Lunch and a Song recitals, stagings for Short Works opera scenes, costume fittings, wig fittings, podcast interviews, and of course, actual performances. Somehow, they are able to find time to eat, sleep, and explore Colorado during their days off.

One of the biggest perks of being a Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Studio or Apprentice Artist is having the opportunity to make connections with professionals in the opera world. “It’s wonderful to be involved in different shows at the same time,” said Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist Humberto Borboa, who is playing an ensemble member in Carmen, Ferrando’s cover in Cosí fan tutte, and Misael in The Burning Fiery Furnace. “You get to work with fantastic conductors, directors and stage managers who can teach you a lot.”

DSC_0244Of course, there is a community within the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program as well. Betsy Diaz, a Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Apprentice Artist who is covering Micäela in Carmen and in the ensemble of Cabildo and Cosí fan tutte, said “I think my favorite part of working at Central City Opera has been my colleagues. Aside from being immensely talented, everyone is so kind and supportive. It really makes a difference.”

The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program is a huge asset to Central City Opera and an amazing stepping stone for these performers in their careers. By fostering the talents of emerging artists, Central City Opera is helping establish a bright future for the opera world.

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