The New Orleans Opera Association fosters young talent in all areas of our theatrical art form. This vibrant community is filled with singers, administrators, visual artists, stage managers, composers, and more. As artists grow, many go on to share their gifts in other places. Here are just a few updates from members of our Opera family with exciting opportunities ahead of them as they look forward to their upcoming journeys and reflect on their time with NOOA.
Emily Barber – On Site Opera
On Site Opera is an innovative opera company led by Eric Einhorn and Piper Gunnarson. As Production Manager, I’ll be helping to plan/coordinate/oversee/bring to life exciting and immersive operatic experiences across New York City and the surrounding areas. I am ecstatic about this new opportunity and position! In recent years, opera has seen a drastic increase in diverse casting and storytelling, and On Site Opera is on the frontlines of this mission to include all walks of life in this beautiful art form. Opera is both escapism and realism, and I want to continue being a part of meaningful work to embrace all aspects of humanity. As Louis Armstrong said, “Music is life itself.”
New Orleans Opera Association gave me my start in so many ways. The company hired me for my first “operatic” job in 2014 as a chorister. I continued to perform in shows until I made the switch to Stage Management in 2017. Through the years, the wonderful artists I have met while working at NOOA have taken me across the U.S. to numerous other companies. However, I always loved coming home to New Orleans and my “home company.” As I take this next step in my career, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities provided to me by NOOA. Even though I’m now 1,300 miles away, New Orleans will always be my home.
Frank Convit – Portland Opera
This winter, I’ll be a “Portland Opera to Go” artist, singing the role of Jorge in Hector Armienta’s Un Camino de Fe / A Journey of Faith. The piece is a bilingual opera telling the story of a Latin American family and the struggles they face immigrating to the US. This outreach initiative aims to bring the experience of opera to communities and schools that face geographic and economic barriers, so I will be performing in Portland and touring the northwest region. I’m feeling so excited about this upcoming adventure in my career; it’s always fun to sing for new audiences, collaborate with new colleagues, and experience a change in scenery. As the son of Latin American immigrants, I’m most thrilled to bring this story to life for audiences to experience.
Over the course of eight years, I’ve performed with the New Orleans Opera Association in the opera chorus, outreach concerts, a touring production, and as a mainstage soloist. NOOA has played an essential role in my career, providing me with a platform to flourish as a young artist. I have to also thank Carol Rausch. She has played a huge role in my operatic journey through her mentorship, knowledge, and love of this art form, which is unparalleled.
Nicole Heinen – Chautauqua Opera
This summer I will be a Studio Artist at the Chautauqua Opera Company performing various roles, recitals, and concerts. I am beyond excited to make my Chautauqua Opera (in person) debut and work with a very talented group of colleagues and staff.
It has been a blessing to be able to perform for the various New Orleans Opera concerts and engagements as these performances have helped prepare me for the audition season. During such a difficult time, with the pandemic, performance opportunities have been limited. However, New Orleans Opera found a way to provide safe concerts for its patrons and performers such as myself.
Kameron Lopreore – Santa Fe Opera
This summer, I’ll be an apprentice artist at Santa Fe Opera, one of the world’s most prestigious young artists programs. I’ll be working with some of the opera world’s most knowledgeable and decorated artists and coaches in a stunning, completely new environment. We will be performing a brand new production of Bizet’s Carmen, the company premiere of Tristan und Isolde, and the world premiere of Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang’s Madame Butterfly, as well as Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Verdi’s Falstaff, and several scenes programs and concerts!
The opportunity to represent New Orleans at Santa Fe Opera is a dream come true. I am so fortunate to participate in experiences like this and I know it wouldn’t be possible without the support of my amazing circle of family, friends, and artistic colleagues. I can’t wait for this new adventure and to bring the “Who Dat” to the deserts of Santa Fe!
New Orleans Opera provided some of my first experiences in opera and some of my favorite memories on the stage. The up-close and personal experience of watching stars like Lisette Oropesa, Greer Grimsley, Luretta Bybee, Stephanie Blythe, and Bryan Hymel helped to provide powerful insight into how to sing, perform, and behave in a top-level professional manner. Furthermore, the amazing coaching and guidance of Carol Rausch, Maestro Robert Lyall, and the entire New Orleans Opera team helped to guide and shape me into the musician and artist that I am today.
Dylan Trần – Salastina – ABLAZE Records
I was recently accepted into Salastina’s Sounds Promising Young Composers apprenticeship program in Los Angeles, CA. Over the next few months, I’ll be working under composer-mentor Derrik Skye, writing a piece to be workshopped, performed, and recorded by the Salastina Resident Artists. Separately, ABLAZE Records’ upcoming album New Choral Voices Vol. 6 will feature my piece A Soldier’s Grave. In March, I’ll be visiting Cincinnati, OH, stepping into the studio with Coro Volante, Mº Brett Scott, and GRAMMY Award-winning audio and mastering engineers. The piece is especially meaningful to me, being dedicated to my late grandmother, Mary Catherine Bush Lachney. While she was never able to hear the music performed, it warms my heart to think of how excited she would be that her father’s poetry, set to music by her grandson, is being internationally distributed for the world to hear.
My time with the New Orleans Opera Association, from joining the company as a chorus member and comprimario eight years ago to my current position as Marketing Coordinator, has allowed me to explore an enormous breadth of skills and accrue a diversity of experiences, all of which have seamlessly transferred into my work as an artist. I’m especially grateful for the opportunity to have strengthened these skills in the context of NOOA’s mission, one that aligns much with my own: enriching the lives of our community through art and education.
Zara Zemmels – Sarasota Opera
I am so excited to be an Apprentice Artist at Sarasota Opera in Florida for their winter season. We are putting together four operas between January and March: Tosca, Daughter of the Regiment, Pearl Fishers, and Attila. It is very fruitful to be surrounded by singers from all over the country who are at my own age and level of experience. I learn so much from their perspectives, their strengths and their challenges. It’s been truly enlightening to learn how my talents fit into the larger world of opera. I am developing a much clearer idea of what kind of singer I am and what kind of career I want to have.
The New Orleans Opera Chorus was excellent preparation for this experience, which is primarily chorus and outreach. At NOOA I honed the musical skills, rehearsal etiquette, and professionalism I need to feel comfortable working with people from a variety of backgrounds. We’ve been able to create art with efficiency and joy. It feels great to be well prepared and confident about what I am doing.
While new jobs, young artist programs, residencies, and recording contracts may lead these young artists away from our beautiful city— some for a season, some more permanently— we are proud of their accomplishments and they will always be welcome back in New Orleans!