Pictures from 2010 Program - Participants

Yunjung Bae Karoline Barnett Fleur Barron Sarah Beckham Steven Derek Brown Kelli Butler Cristina Castro
Brandi Diggs Natalia Dopwell John Fernandez Rafael Garcia Gabriel Gargari Jerett Giesler Ryan Green
Angela Gribble Jonathan Hare Keiko Kai Micah Kessel Yeonjung Kim Chung Gu Kim Choong Lee
Scott Lindroth Rene Martinez Jasmine Muhammad Joe Palarca Youngchul Park Rogelio Penaverde Alexander Pilarsky
Jason Plourde Katya Powder Yanzelmalee Rivera Ricardo Rosa Molly Shortall Elisabeth Shoup Alexandra Smith
Shelley Snyder Venetia Stellou Marcos Vigil Sun A Yeo      
Yujung Bae, soprano, is currently in the doctoral program at The Hartt School, and received her Master’s degree from MSM. She has been participating in several summer programs such IIVA, NY summer opera scene and NY opera forum. She has been in several recitals, including three solo recitals, and in many different opera scenes and workshops. She loves Mozart and has worked on baroque operas with Kenneth Cooper. This summer, she will play the Second Lady in The Magic Flute with The Martina Arroyo Foundation, and Zebrinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos with NY summer opera scene.

Karoline Barnett is currently a senior violin performance major at Mason Gross School of the Arts, and until now, has experienced many operas primarily from the pit. Though not from New Jersey, she now lives in New Brunswick, and studies voice as a mezzo soprano under Dr. Sandra Kungle. She sings with the Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir; she has sung the Verdi Requiem and Carmina Burana with them in Lincoln Center, and was a soloist in their performance of Haydn’s Heiligmesse. Karoline’s love of Mozart and knowledge of German prove to make Die Zauberflöte an enjoyable first opera for her as a vocalist.

Fleur Barron received her MM from Manhattan School of Music in 2008. Recent performances include Hansel, Orlofsky and Isabella with the Martina Arroyo Foundation; Concepcion in Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole, Rosine in Pasatieri’s and Pitti-Sing in The Mikado with EnCanta Opera; the title role in Handel’s Orlando (BASOTI); and Olga Olsen in Weill’s Street Scene (MSM Opera Studio). Upcoming performances include Dorabella with the Savannah Symphony Orchestra in January 2011 and a recital in London. Fleur is in the studio of Cynthia Hoffmann

Sarah Beckham, a soprano from Amarillo, Texas was a studio artist with Sarasota Opera where she sang Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel and covered Nedda in I Pagliacci and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. Beckham had her professional debut at Amarillo Opera as Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte. At Lake George Opera, she sang Eleanor in the premiere of Vehar’s Opera Eleanor Roosevelt. Beckham is a graduate of the Boston University Opera Institute where she sang Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Musetta in La Bohème, and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. Sarah sang Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro with Prelude to a Performance in 2008.

Steven Derek Brown, basso cantante, possesses a naturally dark lyric tone and an insatiable curiosity about music and the human condition. Since 2006 he has been seen in NJCU’s productions of The Magic Flute (Sarastro), Candide (Pangloss/Voltaire), Amahl & the Night Visitors (Balthazar), La Bohème (Colline), La Traviata (Grenvil), Gianni Schicchi (Simone), and The Mikado (Mikado). In addition to his singing credits, Mr. Brown is a published poet and librettist, having recently prepared a modern rendition of the dialogue for The Magic Flute. Born in Ottawa, Canada, Steven Derek Brown has spent the past ten years in New Jersey and New York.
Kelli Butler, coloratura soprano, has won prizes in many competitions including the Jenny Lind competition, Connecticut Opera Guild, and the Altamura/Caruso International Competition. She has sung with various opera companies such as New Rochelle Opera, Purchase Opera, and the Altamura Opera Festival. Her roles include Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, both the title role and Valencienne in The Merry Widow, Adele in Die Fledermaus, and Mlle. Silberklang in The Impresario. Ms Butler studies with Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Shirley Love.

Cristina Castro is from San Antonio, TX and attends Trinity University. Through Trinity University, she performed the role of Adele in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus in May 2009, and she is the 2009 winner of the Rosalind Phillips competition. She was the soprano soloist in the Rutter Requiem in 2009 and understudy for Mozart’s Requiem soprano solo in 2008. Cristina has also performed with the San Antonio Chamber Choir and the San Antonio Opera Chorus. Cristina has traveled abroad to Salzburg, Austria for a summer and Florence, Italy for a semester. Aside from singing, Cristina has enjoyed dancing, ballet and salsa in particular.

Brandi Diggs is a native of Atlanta, GA. She holds a Masters of Music from the A. J. Fletcher School of Music at East Carolina University and a B.M. from Spelman College. Miss Diggs has performed the roles of Donna Anna from Don Giovanni and Frasquita from Carmen. This summer she will star in the premier of Dream Lovers by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor at the National Association of Negro Musicians. She studies with Dr. Louise Toppin.

Trinidadian Soprano Natalia Dopwell is a student of Hilda Harris at Manhattan School of Music. She was Most Outstanding Performer of Trinidad Music Festival 2004, a finalist at Harlem Opera Theater Competition 2009 and placed third in 2009 Accadia Competition at Carnegie Hall. Roles include Eurilla, Dido and scenes of Kostanza, Fiordiligi, Micaela, Sophie, Antonia & Poppea. Solo performances include Strings Song & Steel (Trinidad), Holders Season (Barbados), A Night at the Opera (Grenada), and Westbeth Music Festival (NYC).

Baritone John Andrew Fernandez has recently performed excerpts from Die tote Stadt with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Silvio in I Pagliacci for Knoxville Opera, Figaro (cover) and Fiorello in Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Bel Canto at Caramoor, Mercuzio in Romeo e Giulietta (premier) for International Opera Theater at the Teatro Avvalloranti, Italy, and the song cycle Siete canciones populares españolas for the Delaware Chamber Music Festival. He loves to cook and is an avid Martial Artist.

Rafael Garcia has been singing since the age of 18. He made his operatic debut in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro in the role of Dr. Bartolo with the Brooklyn Music School. He has performed Dandini in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, and Cadmus in Handel’s Semele, with the Columbia University Opera Ensemble. He debuted with Opera Amato as Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata and went on to sing Amonasro in Verdi’s AĂŻda and the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Rafael is thrilled to be performing in this season with the Martina Arroyo Foundation’s Prelude to Performance program.

A first-generation Mexican-American, Gabriel Gargari is becoming one of America’s most sought-after character tenors. His mentor & teacher is Anthony Laciura, MET sensation for 27 years & HBO star on “Boardwalk Empire”. Gabriel debuted with New Rochelle Opera in June singing Pang in Turandot. He debuted the role of Goro in Phoenix Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly in February and returns to Phoenix in Dec. to revive Monostatos. Gabriel is producing and starring in The Dress Rehearsal, a classical cabaret piece for Tenor, Piano and Actor. NY debut is 11/11/2010 at Merkin Concert Hall. (

Jerett Gieseler is a winner of the 2009 Liederkranz Vocal Competition, Wagner Division; the 2009 Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, Wagner Division; the 2007 Chester Ludgin Memorial Verdi Baritone Competition; and two grants from the Wagner Society of New York. During the 2009/10 season, Gieseler portrays Scarpia with Annapolis Opera, Macbeth and Don Carlo in Forza with Taconic Opera, the world premiere of Unfinished Sermons, soloist in Belshazzar’s Feast with the Handel Society of Dartmouth and Wotan with the Liederkranz Opera. More info at

Ryan Speedo Green received his MM in Voice Performance at Florida State University. He received his BM from The Hartt School of Music in Hartford, CT. Recently, he performed as Don Basilio in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Florida State Opera. Some of his prior opera performance engagements include Bottom in Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Publio in Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito, and Jupiter in Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld. Beginning in the Fall, Mr. Green will be a young artist with Opera Colorado for the 2010-11 season. He will also be singing Colline in La Bohème and Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola for Opera Colorado’s 2010-11 season.

Angela Gribble recently completed her Master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music. This year, she covered the role of Despina in Così fan tutte with Pocket Opera of New York, and was seen singing the role of Young Clara in scenes from Victoria Bond’s new opera Clara Schumann. She has performed roles including Adele in Die Fledermaus, Dorinda in Orlando and Giannetta in L’Elisir D’Amore. Other performance experience includes Cuenegonde in Candide, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier and Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel. Ms. Gribble has participated in summer music festivals including The Opera Theater and Music Festival of Lucca, OperaWorks, and Prelude to Performance.

Jonathan Hare, baritone, has received his BM from the Manhattan School of Music. He has performed various roles such as Marcello in La Bohème with the Martha Cardona Foundation, the Baron in La Traviata with the New Rochelle Opera, Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Belcore in L'Elisir D'Amore, Dr. Flake in Die Fledermaus, Morales in Carmen, and Masetto in Don Giovanni with Opera Company of Brooklyn. He was also a part of the Dell' Arte Opera Ensemble where he performed the roles of Starveling in A Midsummer Nights Dream.

Keiko Kai, mezzo-soprano, made her operatic debut by singing the role of Third spirit in The Magic Flute. She has performed with NY Lyric Opera, Pocket Opera of NY, Camerata Baroque, Amato Opera, and Little Opera Theater of NY, and is currently a resident artist with Opera Company of Brooklyn. She has appeared as Mrs. Nolan (The Medium), Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte), Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus), Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), Marcellina (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Zita (Gianni Schicchi). She received Master of Music and Professional Studies Diploma from Mannes College, the New School for Music. Future engagements include Alisa (Lucia) with Dell’arte Opera, Susanna Walcott (Crucible) with Empire Opera.

From his roots at the Met. under Elena Doria, through study at the San Francisco Conservatory and the Royal Conservatory of the Netherlands, Micah Kessel has performed internationally as a soloist ever since. He has been in private study or masterclasses with Jose van Dam, Nathan Gunn and Carol Vaness. In 2011 he will perform Zurga in The Pearl Fishers, and anticipates an album release of his compositions and a theatre commission.
Soprano Yeonjung Ellie Kim from Seoul, South Korea, has completed her Master’s degree at Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Joan Patenaude-Yarnell. She performed as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte during her undergraduate study at Sookmyung Women’s University. She has performed the role of Lucy in Menotti’s Telephone during the 2005 Summer Opera Festival season at the Korea National Theater and Opera Gala concert in KBS Hall as a member of the Kim Ja-kyung opera company. She will also be performing with the dell’Arte Opera Ensemble this summer, singing Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro.

Tenor Chung Gu Kim, born in Korea, recently made his principal operatic debut by singing the role of Dorvil in La Scala di Seta at Montclair State University. He received his bachelor’s degree at Hanyang University, where he received a merit scholarship for the top honor students. He performed in opera scenes as Ferrando in Cosi Fan Tutte, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, and Rodolfo in La Boheme. Studying under MET artist Anthony Laciura and Dr. Stephen Oosting, he is a graduate student at MSU and is the current recipient of the John J. Cali Shool of Music Program Award.

With a timbre likened to that of Jussi Bjorling, Tenor Choong Lee has exhibited versatility and growth in several performances at Prelude to Performance, including such roles as Hoffmann in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera, and Alfred in Die Fledermaus. Opera News noted that he has “real humor on stage.” Upon awarding him the Teresa Stratas Special Award at the Lotte Lenya Compeition, the soprano praised his superb vocal quality as a “gift from God.” In April, he was tenor soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and in May he was invited to the Natchez Festival of Music.

Scott Lindroth holds a BM in Voice and Music Education from the University of Michigan and a Masters in Voice from Manhattan School of Music. Recently, he has sung Charlemagne in Il Tassilone, Marco in Gianni Schicchi, Ceprano in Rigoletto, Wagner in Faust and Edgardo in Il Caso Mortara. In competition, he took Second Place in the Opera Theater of Connecticut's Voice Competition. As a soloist, he has recently performed Mozart’s Requiem and Carmina Burana.

Rene Martinez is currently a student at New Jersey City University studying under Anthony Laciura. A veteran of the stage, Rene has performed at NJPAC as well as NYC Venues. His recent performances include his first Opera debut in The Magic Flute as Monostatos, in Godspell as Judas and in Candide as Maxamillion.

A recent graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) with a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance, Jasmine Muhammad began developing her soprano repertoire while attending the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, where she graduated with the Most Outstanding Vocalist award. Her musical education experiences have included Master Classes with renowned opera singers Denyce Graves, Darryl Taylor, Ashley Putnam, Joan Patenaude-Yarnell and Hilda Harris and actor, playwright, and composer Hershey Felder. In 2007, Jasmine traveled to Urbania, Italy to attend the Italian Operatic Experience where she performed in Puccini’s La Bohème and opera scenes.

Joe Palarca, tenor, has sung as a soloist with various NY ensembles including the Mineola Choral Society, Central City Chorus, and has performed several concert version of US premieres with the American Symphony Orchestra. He was a participant in the Aspen Opera Theater Center, followed by his participation in Opera Omaha’s Voices in Residence artist residency. He performed the part of Obadiah in Mendelssohn’s Elijah at UC Davis’ Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, and recently covered the role of Beppe as part of the Pocket Opera of New York’s inaugural season.


Tenor Youngchul Park is currently a Professional Studies Diploma candidate at Mannes College The New School for Music, studying with Arthur Levy. He sang the role of Riccardo in Un ballo in maschera in The Mannes Opera’s Evenings of Opera Scenes in January, 2010. He has performed also the roles of Alfredo in La traviata and Lensky in Eugine Onegin. He earned his Bachelor and Master of Music degree at the Gnesin Academy of Music in Moscow where he studied with Arthur Eizen. Mr.Park was a winner in the 2004 Bella Voce International Competition.



Rogelio B. Penaverde, Jr., tenor, is a native of Manila, Philippines. He has been praised as a singer “with engaging presence” displaying a “strong, dependable vocal equipment which flawlessly soars and sustains high notes long and firmly”. Some of his opera credits include Ernesto from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale with the Bronx Opera Company, Leon from Pasatieri’s Signor Deluso with enCanta Collective, and Idreno (cover) from Rossini’s Semiramide with the Caramoor International Music Festival.

Alexander Pikarsky is excited to be returning to Prelude to Performance, where he sang in Les Contes d’Hoffman and Un Ballo in Maschera.  With Opera @ Rutgers, Alex has played Elder Hayes in Susannah, and has appeared in Il Mondo della Luna, Il Campanello di Notte, and Le Pescatrice. He has sung at Lincoln Center with the Kirkpatrick Choir in the Verdi Requiem and Orff’s Carmina Burana.  Recently, Alex played Beadle Bamford in Sweeney Todd.

Baritone Jason Plourde, a native of Caribou, Me., has performed roles including, Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Figaro in Barber of Seville, Count Almaviva in Marriage of Figaro, Dulcamara in Elixir of Love, Papageno in Magic Flute and Horace Tabor in Ballad of Baby Doe, with companies including Indianapolis Opera, The Bronx Opera Company, Opera New Jersey and Central City Opera. In addition, Mr. Plourde has participated in the Bel Canto at Caramoor and the Central City Opera Young Artists’ Program as well as the Merola Opera Program where he created the role of Burton in Thomas Pasatieri’s The Hotel Casablanca.

Mezzo-Soprano Katya Powder is a recent graduate of Manhattan School of Music with a Masters in Voice Performance. She completed her Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance at Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Recent performances include the MSM production PĂ©nĂ©lope (ClĂ©one) and concert repertoire including Schubert’s Mass in B flat, Mozart’s Missa Brevis in C and Pastoralmesse, Handel’s Messiah, and Bach’s Wo gehst du hin?. She performed in operas and scenes from The Consul, The Portrait of Manon, Le Nozze de Figaro, and Don Carlo.

Yanzelmalee Rivera studied in Puerto Rico under the guidance of Justino Díaz. She was the winner of the 2006 Metropolitan National Council Auditions Encouragement Award (PR) and 2008 Illinois District Student Auditions (NATS). In 2009 she received the Grace Elizabeth Wilson Memorial Award for Excellence in Singing and in 2010 the Sara de Mundo Lo Award. She is a student of Cynthia Haymon and has performed: Susanna from Le Nozze di Figaro, Despina from Così fan tutte, Beatriz from La Hija de Rappaccini by Catán, Gretel from Hänsel und Gretel, Polly from Threepenny Opera and Fräulein Silberklang from Schauspieldirektor.

Born in Puerto Rico, baritoneRicardo Rosa has sung a variety of roles including Germont in La Traviata , Father from Lost childhood in Telaviv, Fernan from Macias in the F I A , Marcello from La Boheme with Tribeca Opera, Escamillo in Carmen with Sound Symphony and Espresso Opera, Count in Le nozze di Figaro in the Kaye Playhouse and the title role in Curro, el de Lora by Francisco Alonso in the premiere in America in the Symphony Space. Recently he performed Marcello in La Bohème with Teatro Lirico de Europa in the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Florida and Sharpless in Madame Butterfly with Gateway Classical Music Society.

Soprano Molly Shortall, a native of Wisconsin. Her most recent performances include her New York City debut recital and opera scenes performances of Madama Butterfly as Cio-Cio San. In 2006 she was the featured soloist at the American Choral Festival in Leipzig, Germany. She has recently completed the Master of Music program at Manhattan School of Music in the studio of Mark Oswald. Past performances include “Gritchpoo” in Gargoyle Garden, a children’s opera; the title role in Madama Butterfly; and many chamber concerts. Ms. Shortall resides in Manhattan.

Elisabeth Shoup is a mezzo-soprano from Albany, NY. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory, where she received degrees in Voice Performance and Theater. While at Oberlin, Elisabeth performed in Transformations (Singer 3), The Secret Marriage (Fidalma) and Les Plaisirs de Versailles (La Conversation).. Since graduation, she has performed with Opera New Jersey in The Merry Widow (Margot), covered the title role in Hubbard Hall Opera Theater’s production of La Tragedie de Carmen and performed with the New York Lyric Opera as Rosette in Manon.

Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, soprano Alexandra Smith is a recent graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and Roosevelt University.  Last year she played Ida (Adele cover) in MAF’s Die Fledermaus. In 2006 and 2008 she attended the Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca where she sang concerts as Countessa in Le Nozze di Figaro and Magda in La Rondine.  Role studies include Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro and Juliet in Romeo et Juliet with MAF.  This year she sang Alice in the MSM Outreach Opera Alice in Operaland. This May she was a Giulio Gari competition finalist.

Shelbey Snyder, a soprano from Kansas City, Missouri is a bachelor degree student at San Francisco Conservatory, and is a student of Pamela Fry. She has performed in many school productions, community theatre, and some professional theatre including her role as: Lucinda in Into the Woods at Rockhurst High School. She soloed with the New England Conservatory youth choir in 2009. She has also sung in multiple opera scenes. She played Susana from the Marriage of Figaro in the dressing scene, and Cunegonda from Candide in the first two opening scenes in The Walnut Hill School spring opera production of 2009. the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s outreach program, “Opera in the Neighborhood”.

Born in Montreal, sopran Venetia-Maria Stelliou began singing at the age of 14 and has won many competitions. She has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music from McGill and a Master’s in Music from Boston University. She has been a featured soloist in many concerts, including Beethoven’s 9th symphony, Mozart’s Requiem, as well as concerts for both the former President of Greece and the Prime Minister of Canada. Her roles include Papagena, Barbarina, and Susanna. She also sang Mary Warren in Robert Ward’s The Crucible, for which the composer attended a performance and praised her interpretation.

Tenor Marcos Vigil holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from New Mexico State University as well as both a Masters Degree and a Professional Studies Certificate from the Manhattan School of Music. Mr. Vigil will be singing the role of Beppe in Donizetti's one-act opera Rita with the Martina Arroyo Foundation's “Prelude to Performance” summer program. Mr Vigil will also be attending the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute in Montreal, Canada this coming August. Mr. Vigil was born and raised in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and is currently a student of Eduardo Valdes.

Sun A. Yeo has performed the leading roles including Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Mimi in La Bohème, Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera, Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, and Arabella. She has also appeared in various opera ensembles, music festivals, recitals and master classes. She is a winner of Gerda Lissner International Voice Competition, and she has performed at The Metropolitan Opera as a chorister. In Korea, she sang in the New Artist Concert sponsored by Cho-Sun Daily. She received her Master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music, and she will begin her DMA study at the Catholic University of America.