2022 Young Artists
Felix Aguilar Tomlinson
Felix Aguilar Tomlinson is a Mexican-American lyric tenor from Minneapolis, MN, completing his Graduate Performance Diploma at the Boston Conservatory. Felix has performed extensively in Boston and Minnesota, excelling in roles that are colorful, sympathetic, and demanding — musically, dramatically, and vocally. At the Conservatory, Felix has performed the roles of Tito in La clemenza di Tito, Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Younger Thompson in Glory Denied, The Magician in The Consul, and L’Aumônier in Dialogues des Carmélites, and has covered the roles of Father Grenville in Dead Man Walking and Lenski in Eugene Onegin. Active in the musical theater and opera scene in Minnesota, Felix has performed several roles, including Logan in The Frat Party (Really Spicy Opera), Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte (Lakes Area Music Festival), Lamar in Godspell (Theatre in the Round Players), Ralph Rackstraw in H.M.S. Pinafore (The Minneapolis Pops Orchestra) and The Defendant in Trial by Jury (Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company). In Boston, Felix has been hired as a chorister for the Boston Lyric Opera, Odyssey Opera, the Boston Pops with the Metropolitan Chorale, and the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras. Dedicated to the performance and production of new works, Felix is a founding member of Strange Trace – a fledgling opera company that commissions new digital works of opera from around the world. In addition to his duties as a performer, Felix has been able to explore his passion for directing, filming, and producing in the seven new works he has created with that organization since autumn 2020.
Tenor Eric Botto, a Houston native, is best known for his vocal and dramatic versatility onstage. He has triumphed in leading tenor roles such as Alfredo (La traviata), Rodolfo (La bohème), Roméo (Roméo et Juliette), and Nadir (Les pêcheurs de perles), but also thrives in comic and character roles such as Earl Tolloller (Iolanthe), the Magician (The Consul), and Le petit vieillard (L’enfant et les sortilèges). He has performed in Italy, as well as across the United States – in New York, California, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. In the summer of 2020, Eric experienced his first season with Chautauqua Opera, and was honored to be part of the world premiere of In Our Silence, an a cappella song cycle composed by Frances Pollock with text by Jerre Dye, drawing on interviews with each of the company’s young artists about their experiences during the COVID-19 isolation. Eric equally enjoys performing concert repertoire, and has credits as a soloist in Heinrich Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien, Uriel in Haydn’s The Creation, and as the tenor soloist in Christopher Powell’s 2021 world premiere of Rest: A Requiem. Eric holds music degrees from Colorado State University and the University of Mobile, and is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at the University of Colorado Boulder under the tutelage of Dr. John Seesholtz.
James Eder is a bass from Columbus, OH. His voice has been acclaimed as a “solid bass” that is “robust” and “resonant” and having “ample quality and quantity.” He has performed in a variety of concerts and in roles across the operatic and theater repertoire. His dramatic interpretations have been hailed as “inspired,” “laugh-out-loud funny,” “a comic delight” and “marvelously sinister and threatening.” In the winter of 2021, James returned to Sarasota Opera to perform the roles of Vespone in Pergolesi’s La serva padrona and Ormondo in Rossini’s L’inganno felice, and in the spring, James reprised Ormondo with Opera Southwest. In 2020, James was in Sarasota covering the roles of Frère Laurent in Roméo et Juliette and Alcindoro in La bohème when the season was brought to a halt by shutdowns across the world. Despite challenges surrounding the operatic community, James was fortunate enough to continue to make music and during the summer of 2020 and was a young artist with Chautauqua Opera, notably performing in the world premiere song cycle, In Our Silence. Other recent engagements include Colline in La bohème with Cleveland Opera Theater, Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos with Cincinnati Opera, The High Priest of Baal in Nabucco with Sarasota Opera and The Judge in Cincinnati Opera’s production of Another Brick in the Wall by composer Julien Bilodeau and librettist Roger Waters of Pink Floyd (based on the Pink Floyd album of the same name). James earned a M.M. in Vocal Performance degree from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a B.M. in Vocal Performance degree from The Ohio State University. Additionally, James has worked with opera companies including Sarasota Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Southwest, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Columbus, Knoxville Opera, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, Cleveland Opera Theater, Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, Opera Project Columbus, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, and Brevard Music Center’s Janiec Opera Company.
Megan Fleischmann is a soprano pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music in the studio of Theresa Brancaccio. At Northwestern she has had the pleasure of singing Adele in Die Fledermaus, Miles in The Turn of the Screw, and Phyllis in Iolanthe. Megan was most recently seen as an Emerging Artist with the Seagle Festival, where she sang the role of Susan Twichell in the world premiere of Harmony, an opera by Robert Carl and Russell Banks. In April 2021, Megan was named a finalist and recipient of the Friends of the Opera award in Opera Grand Rapids’ Collegiate Vocal Competition. In previous years she was an Apprentice Artist at Miami Beach Classical Music Festival, where she sang Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro. Born and raised in Northern California, Megan has had the pleasure of touring the San Francisco Bay Area with Lamplighters Music Theatre in a number of their productions, most recently singing the role of Rose Maybud in Ruddigore. In February, 2022, Megan will sing the role of Selena in Jake Heggie’s If I Were You at Northwestern University. Megan is thrilled to join Chautauqua Opera Company for their 2022 season.
Praised for his “luxuriant baritone” (San Diego Story), Luke Harnish is a promising young singer and teaching artist. Last summer, he made his Opera Kansas debut as Walter Beech and Roy McPhetridge in the world premiere of Staggerwing. Recent roles include Nardo (La finta giardiniera) and Bob (The Old Maid and the Thief), both with Wichita State Opera Theatre. Harnish was an apprentice artist with Opera NEO during the 2020 and 2019 seasons, where he most recently performed the role of Papageno in the company’s cinematic adaptation of Die Zauberflöte. The previous year he sang the title role in Eugene Onegin. Mr. Harnish enjoyed a close relationship with Nashville Opera in previous seasons, performing several roles with the company, including Professor Trixie and Gus (The Cradle Will Rock), The Imperial Commissioner (Madama Butterfly), and The Page (Amahl and the Night Visitors). His concert credits include the role of Jesus in a staged production of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Vanderbilt University and the Baritone Soloist for Serenade to Music with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.
Noted for her “golden-voiced” singing (Voix des Arts) and “deft hand at verbal and physical comedy” (The Isthmus), American soprano Nicole Heinen has dazzled audiences with her commanding stage presence. During the 2021-2022 season she has been a featured concert soloist with the New Orleans Opera Association. Nicole has also been a finalist in the Opera Mississippi John Alexander Vocal Competition, semi-finalist in the Premiere Opera Foundation Competition and a Regional Finalist for the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition. As a Baumgartner Studio Artist during the 2018-2019 season, Nicole made her debut with the Florentine Opera, portraying Miss Frayne and Margaret Hughes (cover) in Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players, Fortuna/Valletto in Claudio Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea and was soloist in Florentine Opera’s 85th anniversary gala. During this time she won the Wisconsin District as part of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the IAETAward in the Casa Italia Competition. During the 2017-2018 season Nicole made both her debut appearances as a summer concert artist in residence with the Florentine Opera and performer at the Ravinia Festival. In addition to her debuts, Nicole was a finalist in the 2017 International Handel Aria Competition, in part with the Madison Music Festival. Her repertoire includes, but is not limited to, Die Königin der Nacht (Die Zauberflöte), Gilda (Rigoletto), Konstanze (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), La Fée (Cendrillon), Marie (La fille du régiment) and Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare).
Marcus Jefferson is originally from Wayne, NJ, and holds an M.M. degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a B.M. degree from the Eastman School of Music. He currently studies with Jonathan Beyer and Marlena Malas. Marcus’s stage credits include Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) with Oswego Opera Theater, Elder Hayes and Little Bat (Susannah) and Benvolio (Roméo et Juliette) with the Janiec Opera Company, as well as Don Ottavio, Tenor 2 (Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Tibetan Book of the Dead), Nutrice (L’incoronazione di Poppea) and Major-General Stanley (The Pirates of Penzance) with the Eastman Opera Theater. In scenes programs Marcus has appeared as the title character in Idomeneo, Giles Corey (The Crucible) and Dr. Caius (Falstaff) with the Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater. In concert, he has performed as a soloist in major choral works by Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Bach. His recent recording projects include solo works by H. Leslie Adams with the New Muses Project with the Yale School of Music.
Emily Michiko Jensen
Praised for her “theatrical instincts and intriguingly versatile instrument,” Japanese American soprano Emily Michiko Jensen is thrilled to return to Chautauqua Opera as an Apprentice Artist, covering the title role in Tosca, and singing Angel More in The Mother of Us All, while covering Susan B. Anthony. As a 2016 Studio Artist, Emily sang 2nd Soprano in Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar and covered Annina in La traviata. Again, as a Studio Artist, she covered Soprano 2 in Hydrogen Jukebox in 2017. This season, Emily joins Pensacola Opera as an Artist-in-Residence, making her company debut as First Lady while covering Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. She also covers Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Emily made her Florentine Opera debut as Jessie in Weill’s Mahagonny: Ein SongSpiel in May 2021 as a Baumgartner Studio Artist. She was scheduled to perform Maguelonne in Viardot’s Cendrillon and to cover the title role, as well as covering Mimì in La bohème, the contracts were cancelled due to the pandemic. During the 2019-2020 season, Emily debuted the title role in Suor Angelica at the Indiana University Opera Theater. She sang Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) at Boston Opera Collaborative, where she made her company debut as Marguerite (Faust) in 2016. Originally from San Diego, CA, Emily received a Graduate Diploma and M.M. degree in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory. She holds a B.M. Degree in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music. Emily is currently pursuing a Performance Diploma at IU as an Associate Instructor scholarship recipient, studying with Timothy Noble.
Mezzo-soprano Olivia Johnson was hailed by Opera News as a “standout… commanding and reassuring, with the timbre of a contralto and the astounding upper extension of a dramatic mezzo” in her recent portrayal of Girlfriend 3 in Michigan Opera Theatre’s production of Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson’s opera, Blue.
Before this triumph Ms. Johnson had completed a Fellowship at the Vocal Institute of Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA, where she received an Encouragement Award for the Marilyn Horne Art Song Competition. In December 2021, Ms. Johnson was selected as a winner of the Michigan District in the Metropolitan Opera’s Laffont Competition. Within the same month, she also made her debut in the lead role of Conchetta with Opera NexGen, in their virtual live stream of Carlos Simon’s and Sandra Seaton’s chamber opera, Night Trip. After completing a young artist residency at Toledo Opera during the 2020-2021 season, Ms. Johnson became the new artist in residence for AEPEX Contemporary Ensemble for their 2021-2022 season. Ms. Johnson also appeared with Michigan Opera Theatre in the roles of Wellgunde (Twilight of the Gods), La Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi and Buoso’s Ghost), and Girlfriend (Summer King). In addition, she has been a soloist or has done roles with Opera MODO, Rackham Choir, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and has participated in summer festivals, including Martina Arroyo’s “Prelude to Performance” and the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS).
Olivia earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2014 from East Carolina University, and she completed her Master of Music degree in voice performance at the University of Michigan in 2017 under the tutelage of Professor George Shirley.
Bass-baritone Phillip Lopez is from Avon, IL, and is a graduate of the Yale School of Music. He also holds degrees from Wichita State University and Millikin University. Recently performed roles include Monterone (Rigoletto), Masetto (Don Giovanni), Nick Shadow (The Rake’s Progress), Sancho (Don Quichotte), and Riolobo (Florencia en el Amazonas). He was also featured in Schubert’s complete Winterreise cycle. With Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, he has been seen as Antonio (Le nozze di Figaro), Major Rose/Spc. Austin Haldemann (An American Soldier), Traffic Cop/Peach Checker (The Grapes of Wrath), and the Imperial Commissioner (Madama Butterfly). Other roles include the title role in Gianni Schicchi, Frank Maurrant (Street Scene), Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Dulcamara (L’elisir d’amore) and Polyphemus (Acis and Galatea). Phillip was a member of the Artist-in-Residence Program at Opera Colorado for the 2021-22 season, during which he performed in touring productions of The Barber of Seville as Don Bartolo, and in The Pirates of Penzance as the Sergeant of Police, as well as in roles for the company’s main stage productions – Angelotti (Tosca), Senator (The Shining) and Zuniga (Carmen).
Brazilian-American baritone Bernardo Medeiros holds a B.M. in Music Education from Oklahoma State University, as well as a master’s degree and, most recently, a Performance Certificate, from the University of Houston in May of 2020. During his time in Houston, Bernardo had the opportunity to perform several roles, most notably Horace Tabor in The Ballad of Baby Doe, David in L’amico Fritz, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro and Capulet in Roméo et Juliette. In 2017, Bernardo was an Apprentice Artist at Opera in the Ozarks, where he portrayed the title role in Le nozze di Figaro, as well as Reverend Olin Blitch in Susannah. In the summer of 2019, he made his professional debut with the North Shore Music Festival, singing the role of Malatesta in Don Pasquale. Last summer Bernardo worked for Central City Opera, where he covered and performed his dream role, Rigoletto. This season, Bernardo is a Resident Artist at Indianapolis Opera, where he will portray the roles of Masetto in Don Giovanni and Jigger Craigin in Carousel.
A native of Los Angeles, CA, Talin Nalbandian is an Armenian-American mezzo- soprano, who is currently attending the University of Texas, Austin for a Doctor of Musical Arts degree. For the 2021-22 season, she will be singing Ravel’s Shéhérazade in concert, Der Trommler in Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis, and the title role in Bizet’s Carmen. She recently performed La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi with Livermore Valley Opera and was a Second-Place winner for the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition. In 2019, she sang the roles of Hansel and Sandman in Hansel and Gretel, and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with Opera San José. That summer she also returned to Music Academy of the West to sing the role of Ruby in the west coast premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain. Additionally, Talin won first prize at the Henry and Maria Holt Vocal Competition and the Burbank Philharmonic Kennings-Fischer Competition, as well as being a district winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She has also received awards from the Butler Opera International Competition and the Mentoris Project Vocal Competition. Her concert work includes a performance as the alto soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Symphony Silicon Valley. Talin has worked with Virginia Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Sarasota Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera. Her roles include Maddalena (Rigoletto), 1st trio member (Trouble in Tahiti), Caverna (L’Opera Seria), Bianca (The Rape of Lucretia), Dorabella (Così fan tutte), First Nursemaid (Street Scene), Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro), and Mallika and Mistress Bentson (Lakmé), as well as covering Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) and Mrs. Jones (Street Scene). Talin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pepperdine University and a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music.
John Kun Park
John Kun Park is a Korean-American tenor from Los Angeles, CA, whose instrument has been described as “a tenor voice that floats its high notes with ease and emotional fervor.” John is excited to be joining the summer 2022 season of Chautauqua Opera, where he will be covering the role of Mario Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca, and singing the role of John Adams in Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of us All. The 2021 season began with John being a semi-finalist for the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition (digital auditions). He also participated in the Annapolis Opera Vocal Competition, where he was a finalist and received an Encouragement Award. John joined Des Moines Metro Opera and spent the summer performing in their summer season where he covered both Adolfo Pirelli and Beadle Bamford in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. In October, John joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic to workshop the role of Florestan in Beethoven’s Fidelio in collaboration with Deaf West Theater, and will be returning again in 2022.
John has appeared as the title role in Faust, Ismaele (Nabucco), and Don José (Carmen), and is making strides toward the dramatic and Wagnerian repertoire. He has appeared nationally with companies such as Sarasota Opera, Central City Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, West Bay Opera, and Long Beach Opera.
Praised by Opera News for her “relish and energy,” mezzo-soprano Max Potter is an up-and-coming artist known for her warmth of tone and dramatic presence. The 2020-21 season featured her main stage debut with Opera Santa Barbara as Flosshilde in the Jonathan Dove reduction of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, for which she also covered the role of Fricka. Last season also featured her debut of an innovative staging of Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été at Opera Santa Barbara, the world premiere recording of Constantine Carvasilis’ song cycle Epiphany for mezzo-soprano and cello, and a concert series with The Muse’s Creative Artistry Project with a gala performance at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion for Governor Asa Hutchinson. For the 2021-22 season she joins the American Opera Project as a resident singer for the company’s “Composers and the Voice” Fellowship, and makes her symphonic debut as the Alto Soloist in Mendelssohn’s Elijah at The Washington National Cathedral.
Highlights from Max’s previous engagements include covering the role of Ortrud in Wagner’s Lohengrin with Opera Southwest, making her main stage debut with Opera Southwest as Clarina in Rossini’s La cambiale di matrimonio, and covering the role of Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s contemporary opera Dead Man Walking with Des Moines Metro Opera. Previous roles also include Charlotte (Werther), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Dorabella (Così fan tutte), and Concepción (L’heure espagnole). Equally at home on the concert stage and in the recital hall, Max has shown her natural affinity for new works. Highlights include The Sacred Feminine, an innovative performance piece celebrating the work of Emily Dickinson through spoken word and art song, with New Camerata Opera, and Heggie’s The Breaking Waves with Des Moines Metro Opera, which she performed in recital for the composer.
Soprano Nicola Santoro is quickly establishing herself as a foremost interpreter of contemporary music. This season she was an Artist-In-Residence with Promenade Opera Project and premiered the role of Zoo Director in The Bedbug in October 2021. Previously, she starred in the collegiate premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs as Chrisann Brennan. Additional role credits include Mrs. O’Malley (It’s a Wonderful Life), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), and Papagena (Die Zauberflöte).
In prior seasons, she received the Encouragement Award in the Boston District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Awards, was a prize winner in the National Society of Arts and Letters Competition two years in a row, a semifinalist in the Orpheus Competition, and a recipient of the distinguished Georgina Joshi International Fellowship. She has had the opportunity to participate in young artist programs such as the Dandelion Opera Institute, SongFest and The CoOperative Program. Nicola was scheduled to be the soloist for Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic before the concert’s cancellation due to the pandemic. She has also sung as a soloist with the Thüringer Symphoniker in The Handel Project (Alexander’s Feast), and with euphoniumist Demondrae Thurman (A Summer’s Journey). Nicola earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Westminster Choir College and her Master of Music degree from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.
Baritone Jake Skipworth makes a return to Chautauqua this summer after being a 2016 Studio Artist with Chautauqua Opera and attending the Voice School in 2015. His most recent performance was with the Butler Opera Center as Escamillo in Carmen. Jake has also performed with Sarasota Opera, St. Pete Opera, Tallahassee Bach Parley, Opera Kansas, Wichita Grand Opera, Heartland Opera Theatre, and the Kent Philharmonic Orchestra. Roles include Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Silvio in Pagliacci, the title role and Monterone in Rigoletto, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Filiberto in Il signor Bruschino, Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Moralès and Zuniga in Carmen, Haly in L’italiana in Algeri, the Commissioner in La traviata, Schaunard in La bohème, Baron Grog in The Grand Duchess of Gérolstein, Rucker Lattimore in Cold Sassy Tree, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Frank in Die Fledermaus, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, Marco in Gianni Schicchi, and King Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors. He completed his Master of Music degree in Opera Performance at Wichita State University, where he studied with world renowned bass-baritone Alan Held. Jake holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Oakland University. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Music Arts degree in Opera Performance at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studies voice with Donnie Ray Albert.
Hilary Grace Taylor
Hilary Grace Taylor, mezzo-soprano, is a native of Dallas and is in her third season as an Education Outreach Young Artist with The Dallas Opera. Most recently she was a Young Artist with Chautauqua Opera in their 2020 virtual season and recorded and filmed the role of Sappho in Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata with Pittsburgh Festival Opera. Last season, Hilary was a Semifinalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a Finalist in the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition, and a Semifinalist in the TCO NEXT: Virtual Voice Competition. She is also the First Place Winner of the Lewisville Lake Symphony International Voice Competition and a winner of the University of North Texas Concerto Competition. Role credits include Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Principessa (Suor Angelica), Giovanna (Rigoletto), and with the University of North Texas she has performed Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Desirée Armfeldt (A Little Night Music), Madame de Croissy (Dialogues des Carmélites), Dritte Dame (Die Zauberflöte), Martha (Faust), Mrs. Jones (Street Scene), Regina (Regina) and Gertrude Stein (After Life by Tom Cipullo).