The Young Artists are a vital part of Opera Colorado and bring opera to thousands of people in the Rocky Mountain Region each season. They perform in schools, community centers and other venues across the State and will be featured in the Student Matinée of Falstaff. Their eight-month residency in Denver includes training and coaching from artistic staff and guest artists.
The Young Artist Program is sponsored by Ken and Donna Barrow.
Nicole Keeling (Soprano), a native of Levelland, Texas, recently completed her Master’s degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Oklahoma. While there, she performed the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica as well as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. This summer she attended the San Miguel Institute of Bel Canto where she performed the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera. Previously, in a Vocal Fellowship at the Music Academy of the West under the auspices of Marilyn Horne, she covered the role of Ludmilla in The Bartered Bride. Other credits include Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West and Mařenka in Smetana’s Prodaná Nevěsta with OU Opera Theater, as well as Lady Billows in Albert Herring with Opera Breve. She received her B.M. in Vocal Performance from Eastern New Mexico University, where she sang the roles of the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi and Yum-Yum in The Mikado. This season in Opera Colorado’s touring productions Nicole will sing the roles of Tisbe in Cinderella and Giannetta in The Elixir of Love. In mainstage productions, she will cover the role of Mimi in La Bohème, sing Ina’s Mother in the World Premiere of Steal a Pencil for Me and cover Alice Ford in Falstaff, which she will sing in the Student Matinee.
Nicole Keeling is sponsored by Peyton & Suzanne Bucy and Ken & Barbara Laff
Vanessa Naghdi (Soprano) is an Iranian-American soprano originally from the Washington, D.C. area. Most recently, she performed the role of Liat with Annapolis Opera in South Pacific. Vanessa made her operatic role debut as Amy March in Little Women as a Young Artist with Nightingale Opera Theatre. This past season, she performed Rusalka in Rusalka: The Littlest Mermaid and in Opera 101 over 100 times with Arizona Opera’s OperaTunity touring troupe. Favorite roles include Sparrow in Arizona Opera Education’s Brundibár, Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica and Solo Angel in Die Jungfrau von Orléans with Mittelsächsiches Theater in Freiberg, Germany, Nannetta in Falstaff, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas and Amelia in Amelia al ballo. She is excited to join Opera Colorado as a Young Artist, where she will sing Adina in The Elixir of Love and Clorinda in Cinderella in the company’s touring productions. She will cover the roles of Musetta in La Bohème and Ina Soep in Steal A Pencil For Me, as well as Nannetta in Falstaff, which she will perform for the Student Matinee performance. Vanessa holds a Master of Music in Opera Performance from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Vanessa Naghdi is sponsored by Agatha Kessler & Curt Fentress and Larry & Cynthia Chan
Katherine Beck (Mezzo Soprano) is originally from Bennington, Vermont. She received her MM in Vocal Arts at USC Thornton and her BM in Vocal Performance at the Crane School of Music in upstate New York. Last June, Katherine made her debut at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops Orchestra in the World Premiere of James Lapine’s Sondheim on Sondheim. She spent the remainder of the summer in Lenox, MA as a Vocal Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. Following Tanglewood, she returned to Los Angeles to perform the role of Mercedes in Carmen. Favorite opera credits include the title role in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict and Sesto in Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, both at USC Thornton. Katherine also sang another “Sesto” in Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto with Pittsburgh Festival Opera in 2016. Katherine is thrilled to become a member of Opera Colorado’s Young Artist Program. This season she will sing the role of Angelina in the touring production of Cinderella as well the roles of Lisette in the World Premiere of Steal A Pencil for Me and Meg Page, which she will cover in the mainstage production and sing in the Student Matinee of Falstaff.
Katherine Beck is sponsored by Dirk & Joyce deRoos and Marlis Smith
Nathan Ward (Tenor) is from Lees Summit, Missouri and comes from an eclectic musical background, drawing on study of piano, cello, and composition to inform his singing. He received his master’s degree in 2016 at the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music, studying under Karen Brunssen. There he played Sam Polk in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, Basilio in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Howard Boucher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and Richard Dauntless in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore. In the summer of 2016, he sang Sheldon in Later the Same Evening as a Bonfils-Stanton studio artist. Other highlights include Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Chicago Summer Opera, Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw with Chicago Fringe Opera, and Jimmy Reno in Opera for the Young’s Elixir of Love. This summer he returns to Central City Opera as an apprentice, singing Remendado in Carmen and Tom in Amy Beach’s only opera, Cabildo. As an Opera Colorado Young Artist, Nathan will sing the roles of Parpignol in La Bohème, Rudi Acohen in the World Premiere of Steal A Pencil for Me and Bardolfo in Falstaff as well as Fenton in the Student Matinee. He will also sing the roles of Nemorino in The Elixir of Love and Ramiro in Cinderella, the company’s touring productions.
Nathan Ward is sponsored by Dr. Stephen L. Dilts
Heath Martin (Baritone) is originally from Spring, TX. He obtained his BM in vocal performance from Sam Houston State University and his MM in vocal performance from the University of Houston. College performance experience includes the roles of Papageno in The Magic Flute, Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro, Gianni Schicchi in Gianni Schicchi, Dapertutto in The Tales of Hoffmann, Maximillian in Candide, Clayton McAllister in Cold Sassy Tree, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore and Dr. Rappaccini in La Hija de Rappaccini. Professional performance experience includes the role of Ernie in It’s a Wonderful Life with Houston Grand Opera, Baron Douphol in La Traviata with Chautauqua Opera, Gasparo in Rita with Lone Star Lyric Festival, Dr. Gregg in Gallantry with Alamo City Opera, and Slook in La cambiale di matrimonio with Operativo Houston. Other young artist and training programs he has participated in include Chautauqua Opera, Utah Vocal Arts Academy, Le Chiavi di Bel Canto and Taos Opera Institute. This season as an Opera Colorado Young Artist, Heath will sing the role of Belcore in the company’s touring production of The Elixir of Love. He will also sing the role of Alcindoro in La Bohème, sing The Commandant and cover Jaap Polak in the World Premiere of Steal A Pencil for Me and cover the role of Ford in Falstaff which he will perform at the Student Matinee.
Heath Martin is sponsored by Patrick Spieles & Carol McMurry
Nicholas Kreider (Baritone) is originally from Lansing, Michigan. He obtained both a Master and Bachelor of Music from Michigan State University. During his studies, Nicholas had the opportunity to perform a great variety of roles for MSU Opera Theatre. These include Colline in La Bohème, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, George Emerson in A Room With a View, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, and Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro. Nicholas also had the great privilege of performing the role of Chou Hu in The Savage Land at the Peking National Opera House in Beijing, China. During the summer of 2017, Nicholas attended Bel Canto at Caramoor as an apprentice artist. Nicholas joins Opera Colorado as a Young Artist for the 2017-2018 program where he will perform the role of Dandini in the touring production of Cinderella and cover the role of Belcore in the touring production of The Elixir of Love. In Opera Colorado’s mainstage season, Nicholas will sing the role of the Customs Sargent and cover the role of Schaunard in La Bohème. He will also be a part of the World Premiere of Steal a Pencil for Me and Falstaff.
Nicholas Kreider is sponsored by Patrick Spieles & Carol McMurry
Andrew Hiers (Bass Baritone) is originally from West Palm Beach, FL. He earned his undergraduate degree from Florida State University where he studied with David Okerlund. He is a recent graduate of SUNY Binghamton where he was a student of Thomas Goodheart. While pursuing his Master’s degree in opera, he had the opportunity to perform several roles with Tri-Cities Opera including Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, King Rene in Iolanta, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd and Doctor Grenvil in La Traviata. Prior to his graduate studies, he performed with several companies in New York City including Loft Opera, Venture Opera, and Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble where he sang Bardolf in Salieri’s Falstaff. This past summer he was a participant of the Merola Opera Program performing Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola. Other highlights include Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Colline in La Bohème, Dr. Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore, as well as the title characters in Gianni Schicchi and Don Pasquale. Andrew will sing the roles of Dulcamara in The Elixir of Love and Don Magnifico in Cinderella, the company’s touring productions. In Opera Colorado’s mainstage productions, Andrew will sing the role of Benoit and cover Colline in La Bohème, sing the role of an SS Guard in the World Premiere of Steal A Pencil for Me and sing the role of Pistola and cover the role of Falstaff in Falstaff, which he will sing for the Student Matinee.
Andrew Hiers is sponsored by David & Elizabeth Budd and Martha & Will Tracey