The Opera Colorado Artist in Residence Program* is vital to the company’s mission of bringing opera to thousands of people across the Rocky Mountain region. Each season’s Artists in Residence perform in schools, community centers, and other venues across the state; take on select mainstage roles for Opera Colorado; and are the featured performers in the annual Student Matinee. Their eight-month residency in Denver also includes training and coaching from artistic staff and guest artists.
For more information, please contact Cherity Koepke, Director of the Opera Colorado Artist in Residence Program, at email@example.com or 303.778.0371.
The Artist in Residence Program is sponsored by Ken and Donna Barrow, with additional support from Patrick Spieles and Carol McMurry.
The Artist in Residence Showcase and Celebration Concerts are sponsored by Pam Beardsley, Penelope Lewis, and Carol Whitley.
*Prior to the 2018-19 season, the Artist in Residence Program was known as the Young Artist Program.
MEET THE 2018-19 ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE
Rebekah Howell soprano
Most recently based in Houston, Texas, Rebekah Howell holds a bachelor of music from Baylor University and a master’s degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she studied with Carol Vaness and also served as an Associate Instructor of Voice. Prior to becoming an Opera Colorado Artist in Residence, Rebekah spent several summers with Chautauqua Opera as a Studio Artist and then an Apprentice Artist. During the 2018-19 season, she’ll perform the mainstage roles of Annina in La Traviata, Youth/Holocaust Victim in After Life, and Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro. She’ll also cover Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, in addition to singing the role for the Student Matinee performance. Rebekah recently made her role and company debut as the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute with Opera Louisiane, and performed the soprano solos in Carmina Burana with the Baton Rouge Symphony.
Sponsored by Agatha Kessler & Curt Fentress and Laurence & Cynthia Chan
Kira Dills-Desurra mezzo-soprano
Kira Dills-DeSurra is from Petaluma, California, and earned her artist diploma and master of music from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and her bachelor of music from the University of Southern California. Prior to joining Opera Colorado, Kira was a Central City Opera Apprentice Artist (and was award the Central City Opera Guild Award in 2017), as well as part of the Chicago Opera Theater Young Artist Program. This season with Opera Colorado, Kira will perform the mainstage roles of Flora in La Traviata and Gertrude Stein in After Life. She’ll also cover Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, and sing the role for the Student Matinee performance. Other recent roles include an Actress in Sir David McVicar’s production of Elektra at Lyric Opera of Chicago; her debut as Vera Boronel in a co-production of The Consul by Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theater; and the Second Lady in The Magic Flute at Central City Opera.
Sponsored by Gayle & Gary Landis
Aaren Rivard tenor
Aaren Rivard earned his master’s degree from Wichita State University, where he studied with Alan Held and Sam Ramey; and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Maine, where he studied with Ellen Chickering. He has performed several times with Opera Maine, including in the company’s productions of The Daughter of the Regiment, Madama Butterfly, La Bohème, Rigoletto, and Tosca. He was also an Opera Maine Studio Artist for Gianni Schicchi, in which he sang the role of Amantio di Nicolao and covered Rinuccio. Most recently, he was a 2018 Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera. As an Opera Colorado Artist in Residence during the 2018-19 season, Aaren will sing the mainstage roles of Gastone in La Traviata and both Basilio and Don Curzio in The Marriage of Figaro. He’ll also cover Alfredo in La Traviata.
Sponsored by Chris & Joy Murphy
Nicholas Kreider baritone
Originally from Lansing, Michigan, Nicholas Kreider obtained both bachelor and master of music degrees from Michigan State University, under the tutelage of Professor Richard Fracker. Since graduating, he has been a Bel Canto at Caramoor apprentice artist and a Crested Butte Summer Music Festival young artist. This season will be his second as an Opera Colorado Artist in Residence; during the 2017-18 season, Nicholas performed the role of Dandini in the touring production of Cinderella, as well as on the mainstage as Customs Sergeant in La Bohème and 1st Nazi/SS Officer in the world premiere of Steal a Pencil for Me. This season, he will perform the mainstage roles of the Marquis in La Traviata and Pablo Picasso in After Life, as well as Antonio in the Student Matinee of The Marriage of Figaro. Nicholas will also cover the role of Germont in La Traviata.
Sponsored by Dr. Stephen L. Dilts
Edward Laurenson baritone
Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, Edward Laurenson graduated from London’s prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he studied with Australian soprano Yvonne Kenny; one of the highlight moments from his time in London was having the privilege of performing for Her Majesty The Queen. More recently, Edward worked towards a postgraduate diploma from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, under a full-tuition scholarship. While still in New Zealand, and as a member of the Chapman Tripp Opera Chorus, Edward performed in New Zealand Opera’s productions of Eugene Onegin, Rigoletto, The Bartered Bride, Madame Butterfly, The Flying Dutchman, and Don Giovanni. He was also a Freemasons Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist with New Zealand Opera, taking on the roles of the Imperial Commissioner and Official Registrar in the company’s mainstage production of Madame Butterfly. With Opera Colorado in the 2018-19 season, Edward will perform the mainstage role of Baron Douphol in La Traviata, in addition to covering Germont. He’ll also cover Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro, and perform the role for the Student Matinee performance.
Sponsored by David & Elizabeth Budd and Martha & Will Tracey
Eric McConnell bass-baritone
Originally from Thornton, Colorado, Eric McConnell earned his master’s degree from Northwestern University, where he studied with W. Stephen Smith; and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami, where he studied with Kevin Short. His training also includes young artist engagements with Seagle Music Colony, Central City Opera, Opera Saratoga, and Aspen Opera Center at the Aspen Music Festival and School. This season as an Opera Colorado Artist in Residence, McConnell will perform the mainstage roles of Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata and Antonio in The Marriage of Figaro. He’ll also sing Figaro in the Student Matinee performance of The Marriage of Figaro.
Sponsored by Joyce de Roos and Marlis Smith
Brian Gilling coach accompanist
Pianist and conductor Brian Gilling received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Carnegie Mellon School of Music, and has worked with orchestras and opera companies in Europe and the United States. Recent credits include music directing and conducting LoftOpera’s production of Pergolesi & Vivaldi; serving as a pianist and music director with Opera Saratoga; conducting La Rondine at Undercroft Opera; and performing with the Berkshire Opera Festival. Brian is also the pianist and co-founder of the award-winning Lîla Quartet, which will soon release its recording of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. As an Opera Colorado Artist in Residence for the 2018-19 season, he’ll serve as coach accompanist and assist on the mainstage productions of La Traviata, The Marriage of Figaro, and the double-bill of After Life and Josephine. He’ll also music direct the company’s touring productions of Hansel and Gretel and Romeo & Juliet.
Sponsored by Peyton & Suzanne Bucy and Ken & Barbara Laff