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Where Stars are Born

HGO Studio is a Driving Force behind Opera’s Future

 

Photo by Brooke Shaden­­

 

Pursuing a career as an opera singer, coach, or conductor is no easy feat, and it takes incredible resources to train the best of the best. Your support of HGO helps us provide the best training in the world for the next generation of great artists who will thrill audiences for years to come. Young singers of all ages from every corner of the globe dream of coming to Houston to study because of the continued support HGO receives. They know that once they get here, they are on the path to tremendous careers.

And what better example could there be than superstar mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, a former HGO Studio artist? Before she was the 2018 Olivier Award winner for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, before she won multiple Grammy Awards, before The New Yorker dubbed her “perhaps the most potent female singer of her generation,” Joyce was a singer from Kansas waiting tables to pay her rent. When she joined the HGO Studio in 1996, the Company’s internationally recognized young artist training program, a star was born.

“The entire two years I was in the HGO Studio brought one learning moment after the next,” shared Joyce. “It was intensive language instruction, weekly voice lessons, coaching on all kinds of things. What shaped me most was standing side by side with the great artists of the day singing at HGO. Watching the greats at their craft was one of the best things that could have happened to me.”

But HGO’s commitment to developing young artists doesn’t end with the Studio. HGO is currently the only opera company in the world providing professional vocal training to students as young as elementary school all the way through college.

HGO’s Bauer Family High School Voice Studio (BFHSVS) offers year-long customized vocal training for a set of talented high school juniors and seniors planning to study voice at the collegiate level. From one-on-one lessons and masterclasses with HGO mainstage artists to invaluable performance opportunities and behind-the-scenes access to rehearsals and workshops, BFHSVS students become fully immersed in the Company for the year or two they spend with HGO. The 2017–18 BFHSVS class was given the opportunity to perform in HGO’s world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s The House Without a Christmas Tree.

“My greatest experience as part of the Bauer Family High School Voice Studio was The House Without a Christmas Tree,” raved recent graduate Sean Holshauser. “It was such an amazing experience to get to work alongside these incredible professional singers, some of whom I have looked up to for a very long time.”

While many major opera companies offer post-graduate training and programs for young students, HGO noticed a gap in training at the collegiate level. With the help of supporters, HGO launched the Young Artist Vocal Academy (YAVA) in 2011 to help bridge the gap between academia and the professional environment for college-level singers. A summer residency at HGO for approximately 16 artists, YAVA not only focuses on vocal training with HGO’s artistic staff but introduces young singers to other keys to success in the opera business, such as building a resume, securing an agent, and understanding the finances of the industry. 

Current HGO Studio artist Elena Villalón was first introduced to HGO as a YAVA participant in 2017, and the experience was a turning point for her early career.

“YAVA was instrumental in my growth and development,” said Villalón. “It was extremely helpful for professionals to share advice about every aspect of both the artistic and business sides of opera. In an academic environment, and especially at the undergraduate level, such opportunities to receive that kind of knowledge are rare, if not nonexistent.”

Just like Joyce, Elena, and Sean, the future stars of opera are finding their voices today in Houston, and they couldn’t do it without your support. 

“My greatest experience as part of the Bauer Family High School Voice Studio was The House Without a Christmas Tree,” raved recent graduate Sean Holshauser. “It was such an amazing experience to get to work alongside these incredible professional singers, some of whom I have looked up to for a very long time.”

While many major opera companies offer post-graduate training and programs for young students, HGO noticed a gap in training at the collegiate level. With the help of supporters, HGO launched the Young Artist Vocal Academy (YAVA) in 2011 to help bridge the gap between academia and the professional environment for college-level singers. A summer residency at HGO for approximately 16 artists, YAVA not only focuses on vocal training with HGO’s artistic staff but introduces young singers to other keys to success in the opera business, such as building a resume, securing an agent, and understanding the finances of
the industry. 

Current HGO Studio artist Elena Villalón was first introduced to HGO as a YAVA participant in 2017, and the experience was a turning point for her early career.

“YAVA was instrumental in my growth and development,” said Villalón. “It was extremely helpful for professionals to share advice about every aspect of both the artistic and business sides of opera. In an academic environment, and especially at the undergraduate level, such opportunities to receive that kind of knowledge are rare, if not nonexistent.”

Just like Joyce, Elena, and Sean, the future stars of opera are finding their voices today in Houston, and they couldn’t do it without your support.