Michelle Monroe in Dido and Aeneas, 2021
Performing at 8,500 feet above sea level is no small task, as the 30 handpicked trainees find out when they arrive for the intense 10-week experience.
What does it take for thousands of singers to prepare for opera company auditions held around the country? For those hoping to claim a prestigious spot in Central City Opera’s Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program during the annual summer festival, it takes a solid educational and performance background, along with a serious desire to make it in the opera world. Performing at 8,500 feet above sea level is no small task, as the 30 handpicked trainees find out when they arrive for the intense 10-week experience.
“Our program has a charming theater camp atmosphere,” said program director Michael Baitzer. “Only here, you’re training vigorously during the day before performing in front of paying audiences—while getting paid yourself.”
In 1978, Artistic Director Emeritus John Moriarty envisioned a program where young singers would receive innovative coaching and training in diction, movement, acting, stage technique and career preparation. Mr. Moriarty sadly passed on in early 2022, but his legacy continues as program participants live and work side-by-side with mainstage principal artists, getting the opportunity to perform in secondary and chorus roles while soaking up lessons from the rigorous daily schedule.
John Moriarty coaching Apprentice Artists
Categorized into Apprentice Artist and Studio Artist tiers, the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program has become a national model for the professional development of young singers. Apprentice Artists have usually graduated from advanced degree programs and are continuing to mold a lasting career in opera. Studio Artists are often in the process of completing degrees in performance and are seeking professional experience beyond their school. Both tiers earn a salary with benefits, but the opportunity to perform in professional productions attended by reviewers, management representatives, and representatives from other opera companies is what makes the program priceless.
Two-time Apprentice Artist (2019, 2021) Mezzo-soprano Michelle Monroe shared that one of the most rewarding aspects of being in the program is the opportunity to observe the principal artists at work. “I learned so much from watching them in rehearsal and seeing the level of preparation that they bring to the role. It’s really inspired me going forward in my career.”
Other than in supporting roles in Die Fledermaus and The Light in the Piazza, you can catch the young artists performing during the festival at Short Works, Lunch & A Song recitals and as featured singers in Two Remain.
2022 Apprentice Artist, Francesca Mehrotra, performing as Ida in Die Fledermaus
To learn more about the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, go to centralcityopera.org/artists-training-program.