Participant Achievements


We are very proud of the personal and professional achievements of our past participants. Please take a few moments to learn more about our past participants and some of their achievements.


You can also read testimonials from past participants and even find reviews regarding our award-winning and critically-acclaimed program.


Several of our past participants have also gone on to very successfuly professional careers. We have a page dedicated to some of their professional achievements.

Evan Rogister who sang Papageno in our 2000 production of Die Zauberflote was recently appointed Principal Assistant Conductor at the Deutsche Opera Berlin under its new general music director, Donald Runnicles.  One of the productions he is scheduled to conduct will be Die Zauberflote.  Evan, who graduated from Indiana University where he studied voice with Giorgio Tozzi, earned his masters degree in music from the Julliard and while there became interested in conducting.  In 2006 he became a Conducting Fellow at Houston Grand Opera and in 2008 and 2009 was a guest conductor with the Prague Chamber Symphony Orchestra, the Bochum Symphoniker, and the Seattle Opera.

Dawn Boudreaux sang Despina in Operafestival di Roma’s 1999 production of Cosi fan tutte and Pamina in our 2000 production of Die Zauberflöte. Since then she has sung Zerlina and Lauretta in the New York Opera’s productions of Don Giovanni and Gianni Schicchi, Dorabella in Cosi for the Asheville Lyric, First Lady in Die Zauberflöte for Opera Southwest, Valencienne in The Merry Widow for Natchez Opera, and Eurydice in Orphee aux Enfers, Kate in Yeomen of the Guard, and Fiametta in The Gondoliers for Ohio Light Opera.

Ernest Alvarez, who sang Nemorino in our 2003 production of L’elisir d’amore, and Tharanga Goonetilleke, who sang Pamina in our 2004 production of Die Zauberflote, sang Rodolfo and Mimi in the Aspen Opera Theatre July 2009  production of La Boheme, which received high praise.

Ryan McKinney, who sang Leporello in our 2002 production of Don Giovanni and Nicholas Pallesen, who sang Count Almaviva in our 2005 production of Le nozze di Figaro, were featured in the documentary about the Met 2007 final auditions shown on “The Met in HD” series in the spring of 2009.

Lynne Hayden-Findlay sang Suor Genovieffa in 1997 Suor Angelica and First Lady in Die Zauberflöte in 1998 for Operafestival di Roma. She has appeared with the Amato Opera, the Brooklyn College Opera Theatre, the National Chorale, the Opera Orchestra of New York, and the San Diego Opera. She is now co-founder and co-producer of Chelsea Opera in New York City.

Rebecca Gordon sang Susanna in Operafestival di Roma’s 2001 production of Le nozze di Figaro. Upon her return to the US she won the GA level of the Rose Palmai-Tenser Mobile Opera competition. After graduating from Kennesaw State University in the spring of 2002 she traveled to North Dakota for another Susanna, this time in English, with the Western Plains Opera Company. She was also a semi-finalist in the Friedrich Schorr Prize International Competition in Voice. Rebecca has just finished her first year in the Graduate Performance Diploma program in Voice at the Peabody Conservatory where she performed the Queen of the Night and First Lady in a Peabody Outreach Theater production of Papageno!

Zeffin Quinn Hollis sang Figaro in Operafestival di Roma’s 2001 production of Le nozze di Figaro. Zeffin played Dottore Grenvil in La Traviata for Opera Pacific under the baton of John Mauceri, and also recently made his debut with Ocean State Lyric Opera of Rhode Island as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. Recent and upcoming appearances include Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress with Dell Chamber Opera, as Four Villains in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann with the Palm Beach Opera and as Dancaire in Bizet’s Carmen with Fresno Grand Opera.

Christopher Holloway sang Count Almaviva in Operafestival di Roma’s 2001 production of Le nozze di Figaro. Chris has appeared with Houston Grand Opera, Opera in the Ozarks, OperaWorks Summer Intensive Program, Brevard Music Center, Orange County Opera, Amarillo Opera, and as the baritone-in-residence for Opera to Go: Houston Grand Opera’s Outreach Touring Troupe. He has sung the title role in Don Giovanni, Lescaut in Manon, Dandini in La Cenerentola, Silvio in I Pagliacci, Marcello in La Bohème, Vicar in Albert Herring, Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana, Mr. Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Ben in The Telephone, Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief, Angelotti in Tosca, and L’Armoniere in Les Dialogues Des Carmelites.

Ryan McKinney, who sang Leporello in our 2002 production of Don Giovanni, was named as one of the Grand Finalists for the Met Opera National Council Auditions in the spring of 2007. He has been a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and a graduate of the Julliard School of Music. Performances with Houston Grand Opera include Masetto in Don Giovanni, Peter in Hansel und Gretal, Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Zuniga in Carmen, and Nikitich in Boris Godunov. Other notable engagements include the Tutor in Le Comte Ory and Figaro at Wolf Trap Opera, Der Tod in Ullmann's Der Kaiser von Atlantis at Chicago's Rivinnia Festival and Italy's Spoleto Festival, and Handel's Messiah with the Misica Sacra Orchestra for his debut at Carnegie Hall. He represented the United States at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in June 2007.

Nicholas Pallesen, who sang Count Almaviva in our 2005 production of Le nozze di Figaro, was named as one of the Grand Finalists for the Met Opera National Council Auditions in the spring of 2007.  He holds a Master's Degree in voice from Florida State University. Upcoming engagements include Prince Yashvin in the world premiere of Carlson's Anna Karenina with Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Noable appearances include Don Giovanni (Opera Fort Collins), Carl Osen in Street Scene (Opera Theatre of St. Louis), Achilla in Giulio Cesare and Elder McLean in Susanna (Florida State University Opera) and Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro (Operafestival di Roma). Concert appearances in Dvorák's Te Deum with the National Theater Orchestra of Prague and John Rutter's Mass of the Children with the National Philharmonic.

Gabriela Pochinki sang Adina in Operafestival di Roma’s 1996 production of L’elisir d’amore. Since then, she has performed throughout the world in such roles as Esmeralda in Smetana’s Die Verkaufte Braut, Gilda in Rigoletto, Musetta in La Bohème, Norina in Don Pasquale, Miss Silverpeal in L’impresario, Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, and Maria in West Side Story in Salzburg’s Lanthestheater and in the United States with the Virginia Opera. Recently she appeared as Valencienne in The Merry Widow at Teatro Colon, as Adele in Die Fledermaus at the New Tel Aviv Opera, and in La Viuda Alegre at the Los Angeles Opera.

Nkenge Simpson-Hoffman sang Despina in Operafestival di Roma’s 1999 production of Cosi fan tutte. Since then, Nkenge has appeared as Musetta in Virginia Opera’s production of Carmen, Luisa in Lyric Opera of Cleveland’s production of The Fantasticks, and in New York City Opera’s production of Mother of Us All. In addition, she has sung Mozart’s Requiem at the Saluzzo Music Festival in Italy, Handel’s Messiah with the Billings Symphony, and served as a member of Virginia Opera’’s Young Artist Program in 2002.

Charles Edwin Taylor sang Leporello in Operafestival di Roma’s 2002 production of Don Giovanni supported by a grant from the Metropolitan Opera’s Young Artist Program. Chuck returned to the Met for the 2002-2003 season, covering and singing roles in Otello, Faust, Les Troyens, Sly, and Don Carlo. He spent the summer of 2003 with the Utah Festival Opera. He has also sung with Opera Colorado, the Augusta Opera, and Opera Fort Collins. Chuck made his mainstage Met debut singing Lida Rose in the New Year’s Eve Gala performance of Die Fledermaus, a song he first worked on for Operafestival di Roma’s 2002 Broadway concert. During the 2006/07 season, he returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Germont in La Traviata, opposite Hei-Kyung Hong, and Roucher in Andrea Chenier, opposite Ben Heppner.

Pablo Veguilla sang Tamino in Operafestival di Roma’s 1998 production of Die Zauberflöte and Count Almaviva in our 2000 production of Il barbiere di Siviglia. He has most recently sung Fenton in Falstaff for the New York Grand Opera, Des Grieux in Manon for the Capitol Opera Sacramento, Duca in Rigoletto for the New Jersey Concert Opera, and in 2003 Rodolfo in La Boheme and Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly for the New York Grand Opera.

Brandon Wood sang Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte in Operafestival's 1999 and 2000 seasons. He completed his degree in vocal performance at VCU and received the Outstanding Vocalist Award. In his senior year he won the NATS competition at both the state and regional levels and was a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Competition. Upon graduation he won a place in Virginia Opera's Spectrum Artist program and appeared in main stage productions of Andrea Chenier and La Boheme. Brandon participated as a member of the Santa Fe Opera Company’s apprentice program in 2004 and 2005, and made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2006

Adriana Zabala sang Rosina in Operafestival di Roma’s 2000 production of Il barbiere di Siviglia. Since then she has appeared as Rosina with the Minnesota Opera in 2001, as Cherubino with the Wolf Trap Opera’s 2001 production of Le nozze di Figaro, with the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program in 2002, as Meg in The Minnesota Opera’s production of Little Women in 2002, in Street Scene at Wolf Trap in 2002, as Mercedes in Carmen with the Jacksonville Symphony in 2003, and as Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte with the Opera Company of Brooklyn in 2003

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