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The Class of 2017-18: Florida Grand Opera Announces Young Artists

Florida Grand Opera (FGO) is pleased to welcome the singers who will make up the company's 2017-18 Young Artist Program. Twelve performers in all, chosen from the nearly 550 who applied, will arrive in early October to become an integral part of the seventy-seventh season of Florida Grand Opera, the state's longest continuously running performing arts institution.

Susan T. Danis, FGO's General Director and CEO, said," We are fortunate to have such a remarkably talented and varied group of Young Artists for 2017-18. They will provide an important cornerstone of our new season, which is one of the most ambitious in recent company history."

That season includes Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, Richard Strauss's Salome, Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, and Daniel Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas.

Two of FGO's Young Artists will be returning after a highly successful 2016-17 season:

Tenor Dominick Corbacio's assignments for FGO's 2017-18 season include Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor and the Fourth Jew in Salome. Corbacio, who trained at the Manhattan School of Music, received excellent reviews for his performance as Monsieur Triquet in FGO's Eugene Onegin in 2017. South Florida Classical Review wrote that he "displayed a winning character tenor." Corbacio has appeared with Venture Opera and American Lyric Theatre. He was an apprentice artist at Opera Saratoga in 2015 and 2016, and appeared there as the Sailor in Dido and Aeneas and in the US premiere of Phillip Glass's The Witches of Venice. He returns to Opera Saratoga this summer as Fenton in Falstaff.

Tenor Benjamin Werley was heard this season as the Judge and Amelia's Servant in FGO's critically acclaimed production of Un ballo in maschera. A native of Pittsburgh, Werley was the subject of a profile in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in which he called his time at FGO an "invaluable experience." This season, he returns to the FGO stage as Arturo in select performances of Lucia di Lammermoor, and as both Narraboth and the Second Jew in Salome, conducted by Timothy Meyers. Werley is also a veteran of the Young Artist programs at Santa Fe Opera, Opera Colorado, Virginia Opera, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis and was in the 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. This summer, he appears in New York as Don José in Carmen, presented by the Martina Arroyo Foundation's Prelude to Performance program.

The following Young Artists will be debuting with FGO:

Baritone William Lee Bryan performs the roles of the Fifth Jew and Cappadocian in FGO's production of Salome, opening January 27, 2018, and Alvaro in Daniel Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas. He has been a Resident Artist with Minnesota Opera, where his roles included the Duke of Verona in Roméo et Juliette, Marcello in La bohème, and Mr. Hatfield in William Bolcom and Mark Campbell's Dinner at Eight. A native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Bryan holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Florida State University, where he studied with David Okerlund.

Baritone Benjamin Dickerson's roles for FGO's 2017-18 season include the First Soldier in Salome, while study-covering Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor and Alvaro in Florencia en el Amazonas. He was trained at the Manhattan School of Music, where he received first prize in the Ades Vocal Competition and performed leading roles in Don Giovanni, The Dangerous Liaisons, and Le roi l'a dit. He has been a member of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis's Gerdine Young Artist Program and appears there this summer in Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath and as the Wigmaker in Ariadne auf Naxos. He received the Regina Roney Prize in the 2015 Marilyn Horne Song Competition.

For his first season at FGO, English bass Simon Dyer will perform Raimondo in select performances of Lucia di Lammermoor and the First Nazarene in Salome. Trained at London's Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and at Boston Conservatory, Dyer was an Emerging Artist at Boston Lyric Opera, where his roles included the Keeper of the Madhouse in The Rake's Progress and Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro. He has sung at the Glimmerglass Festival as Giorgio in La gazza ladra and at Boston Opera Collaborative as Superintendent Budd in Albert Herring.

A native of Iowa, soprano Jessica Faselt spends her first season at FGO study-covering the role of Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor as well as the title roles in Salome and Florencia en el Amazonas. She was a participant in Opera Theatre of Saint Louis's Gerdine Young Artist Program in the summers of 2015 and 2016, and last summer she sang with the Institute of Young Dramatic Voices in Reno, administered by Dolora Zajick. She was a national semi-finalist in the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She studied at the University of Iowa and at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Soprano Jessica E. Jones sings Euridice in select performances of FGO's Orfeo ed Euridice in 2018, and study-covers Rosabla in Florencia en el Amazonas and the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor. A native of Pocatello, Idaho, she trained at the University of Houston's Moores School of Music, where she appeared as Rosasharn in Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie's The Grapes of Wrath. This summer at Santa Fe Opera, she portrays Chrisann Brennan in Mason Bates's The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.

Russian-American mezzo-soprano Mariya Kaganskaya's FGO roles for 2017-18 include the Page in Salome and Paula in Florencia en el Amazonas. She has been a Marion Roose Pullin Studio Artist at Arizona Opera, where she appeared as Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, and the Third Wood Sprite in Rusalka. Kaganskaya studied with Catherine Cook at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where her roles included Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti, and the title role in Serse.

In FGO's 2017-18 season production of Orfeo ed Euridice, the key role of Amor will be sung by soprano Evan Kardon, who also appears during the season as the Slave in Salome. Kardon has taken part in numerous Young Artist programs, including Opera Saratoga's Apprentice Program, in which she played the Second Fairy in Philip Glass's The Witches of Venice, and Wolf Trap Opera's Studio Artist program, in which she sang Une Dame in Les Mamelles de Tirésias. She was a District Finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions of 2016.

Mezzo-soprano Mary Beth Nelson will sing the role of Alisa in FGO's 2017-18 production of Lucia di Lammermoor and will study-cover Orfeo in Orfeo ed Euridice and Paula in Florencia en el Amazonas. She studied at the Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University. In 2016-17, Nelson was a resident artist with Tri-Cities Opera, where she sang Flora in La traviata, Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel, and the Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd, among other roles. Also in 2016, she made her Glimmerglass Festival debut; her roles there included Betty Parris in Robert Ward's The Crucible. Nelson returns to Glimmerglass this summer as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Derrick Wang's Scalia/Ginsburg.

Brazilian-born bass-baritone Rafael Porto appears in FGO's 2017-18 season as the Second Soldier in Salome and the Capitán in Florencia en el Amazonas. He will also study-cover the roles of Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and Riolobo in Florencia en el Amazonas. Porto received his music education at Indiana University and Butler University. This summer, he will sing the role of the Sacristan/Jailer in Nashville Opera's production of Tosca.

Tenor Chaz'men Williams-Ali's assignments for FGO's 2017-18 season include Arturo, the hapless bridegroom, in select performances of Lucia di Lammermoor, and the First Jew in Salome. He received his training at the University of Iowa School of Music and made his professional debut in 2008 at Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. In 2016, as a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival, he sang both Rodolfo in La bohème and Giles Corey in The Crucible. He went on to sing Pinkerton in the Emerging Artist performance of Madama Butterfly at Washington National Opera.

Susan T. Danis said, "We look forward to launching this gifted group of singers onto the next step of what we hope will be important and rewarding careers."

Florida Grand Opera (FGO), the oldest performing arts organization in Florida, celebrates its 77th season in 2017-18. The mainstage operas of the season include: Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (November 11 - December 2, 2017), Richard Strauss's Salome (January 27 - February 10, 2018), Christoph Willibald Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice (March 17-31, 2018), and Daniel Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas (April 2 - May 5, 2018).

FGO is current accepting subscription renewals, new subscriptions, and donations for the 2017-18 season online or at FGO's offices. FGO's Box Office is located at the Doral Center on 8390 NW 25th Street, Miami, FL 33122, and is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday through Friday during the season. Season tickets may also be purchased by phone at (800) 741-1010.

Founded in 1941 as Greater Miami Opera and later merging with The Opera Guild Inc. in 1994, FGO presents a mixture of standard repertoire and contemporary works as well as commissions and new productions - all featuring projected translations in English and Spanish. FGO is recognized for funding by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding is also provided, in part, by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor and the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, and the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council. Florida Grand Opera is a Resident Company of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and a member company of OPERA America. Intercontinental Miami is the Official Hotel and Steinway & Sons is the Official Piano of Florida Grand Opera.

Florida Grand Opera, Inc. 8390 NW 25th Street Miami, FL 33122 305-854-1643 (Administrative Offices) 800-741-1010 (Box Office.)

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