Highlands Opera Studio


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Richard MargisonSan Francisco native Nate Ben-Horin graduated from UC Berkeley in 2014, where he won the Austin F. William Prize in piano performance and was subsequently hired as a staff accompanist and assistant choral director. He has worked widely within the Bay Area including several seasons with West Edge Opera as a repetiteur, chorus master, and promotional recitalist. A former student of Jeremy Denk and Jeffrey Sykes, he recently earned a master’s degree in collaborative piano at McGill with Michael McMahon and Stephen Hargreaves. His collegiate opera experience ranges from playing continuo harpsichord in Francesca Caccini's La Liberazione di Ruggiero, (the earliest opera by a female composer), assistant conducting Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito, and rehearsing and performing Ariadne auf Naxos at Highlands Opera Studio 2019.

CIERRA BYRD | Mezzo-Soprano

Cierra ByrdCierra Byrd, mezzo soprano, is a native of Akron, Ohio and a proud alum of The Ohio State University. Ms. Byrd has performed as a featured soloist nationally and abroad with recognized ensembles and organizations including The Capriccio Jubilee Singers, Opera Columbus, and The Stacey V. Gibbs Chorale. She is the first winner of the Wilson Vocal Award, a recipient of Peabody’s Artist Excellence Award, an awarded finalist in Peabody's Vocal Studies Song Competition, and a proud semi-finalist of The British Art Song Society in London. She has also had the honor of singing in masterclasses with renowned tenor, George Shirley and Austrian soprano, Gabriele Lechner.

Ms. Byrd has recently earned a graduate degree at The Peabody Conservatory under the tutelage of Margaret Baroody and Denyce Graves.

Recent and future roles include the role of La Zia Principessa (The Princess Aunt) in Puccini’s Suor Angelica (Il Trittico) and Lady Catherine DeBourgh in the staged premiere of Kirke Mechem’s Pride and Prejudice with Peabody Opera Theatre, The Witch in an innovative production of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel with Opera Saratoga and Manual Cinema, and The Governess (Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades) with Des Moines Metro Opera.


Brenden FriesenSaskatchewan born bass Brenden Friesen has captured audiences with his powerful resonance, exceptional diction, enormous comedic presence, and incredible interpretation of text (Opera Canada). Brenden is a recent graduate of the esteemed L'Atelier lyrique young artist program at l'Opéra de Montréal. His studies include a Bachelor of Arts in Voice Performance from Briercrest College while studying with Dr. Ron de Jager, followed by completing University of Toronto’s MMus Opera degree while studying with Professor Lorna MacDonald. Brenden is now a current student of Ariane Girard in ​Montréal​, ​Québec.

After debuting with Opéra de Montréal in 2018 with Verdi’s ​Rigoletto ​as Count Ceprano under the baton of Maestro Carlo Montanaro, he has since performed notable roles such as Colline in Puccini’s ​La bohème ​with both Saskatoon Opera (2018) and Highlands Opera Studio (2018), Ernest Hemingway in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Canadian debut of ​27 ​(2019), Truffaldino in Strauss’ ​Ariadne auf Naxos ​(HOS2019), and Zaretski in Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece ​Eugene Onegin​ (Opéra de Montréal 2019). Brenden has also undertaken such roles as Sarastro in Mozart’s ​Die Zauberflöte (​ 2018), Leporello and Il Commendatore (UofT Opera), and Masetto (Saskatoon Opera 2017) in Mozart’s ​Don Giovanni​.

Upcoming performances, though pending with COVID-19, include Raimondo in Donizetti’s ​Lucia di Lammermoor​ with Jeunesses Musicales Canada (2020/21), as well as Handel’s ​Messiah a​ nd Brahms’ ​Ein Deutsches Requiem​ with Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (2020/21). Brenden will be returning to Highlands Opera Studio Summer 2020, and COVID regulations allowing, will reprise his roles of Masetto and Il Commendatore in Mozart’s ​Don Giovanni.

SIMONA GENGA | Mezzo-Soprano

Simona GengaNamed one of the CBC's "30 hot Canadian Classical Musicians under 30”  Mezzo Soprano Simona Genga, is known for her vocal plushness, amplitude and range which are mature beyond her years (Opera Canada). Toronto raised, Simona is a proud graduate of the COC’s Studio Ensemble and the University of Toronto’s Opera School.

As a Gerdine Young Artist, Simona received the 2018 Barbara and Stanley Richman Award for demonstrating "exceptional potential for a significant career" at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis where she returned the next year as Annina in a special production of  La Traviata directed by Patricia Racette.

An avid interpreter of song, Simona’s favourite summer was spent studying at the Franz Schubert Institute where she was deeply inspired by the late Dr.Deen Larsen. Her sensitive and emotional grasp on repertoire have granted her fellowships with the Ravinia Steans Music Institute, the Chautauqua Institution, and awarded her prizes including the Norcop Song Recital Prize, an Elora Festival Recital, Developing Artist Grants from the Hnatyshyn Foundation, the Sullivan Foundation and Ruby Mercer Awards.

Most Recently, Simona has made COC debuts as the Second Maid in Elektra,  Cindy in Wow Factor, Berta in the Barber of Seville, and Gertrude in Hansel and Gretel (Opera for Young Audiences). This spring, Simona was preparing the High Priestess for Aida and workshopping the role of Mrs. Macaroni in Ian Cusson’s new opera Fanstasma which is postponed from the Fall of 2020.

In the wake of COVID-19, Simona has been honing both artistic and administrative skills, joining the OmniArts Foundation in organizing and performing in their Virtual Concert Series entitled “Lean on Me” which raised money to support Artists. Simona is extremely honoured to be joining Highlands Opera Studio for Independent Study this summer.


River GuardRiver Guard is an operatic tenor, singer-songwriter, composer, actor, and multi-instrumentalist hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Throughout his musical career, River has transitioned from singing in a rock band, to musical theatre, and now works towards a full-fledged career as an opera singer. In the summer of 2016, River sang the role of Rinuccio in Halifax Summer Opera Festival’s production of Gianni Schicchi. In the summer of 2017, River returned to Opera NUOVA to sing the role of Lensky in Eugene Onegin under Maestro Gordon Gerrard. River completed his Opera Diploma at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2017, and sang the role of Martin in Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land. In the summer of 2018, River travelled to the Banff Centre to take part in their Opera in the 21st Century program, attended Highlands Opera Studio run by world renowned tenor, Richard Margison, and is currently finising his studies at The University of Toronto for their Masters in Opera program, studying with Wendy Nielsen. River has performed the roles of Lippo Fiorentino in Kurt Weil’s Street Scene and Il Podesta in La Finta Giardiniera with UofT Opera, and is in increasing demand for opera and oratorio work throughout the Toronto area. In his spare time, River performs as a singer-songwriter, playing his own music, as well as working as an actor and music theatre performer. In the summer of 2019, River travelled to the Aspen Music Festival and School to sing the leading role of Miles Zegner in the opera, Proving Up by up and coming composer Missy Mazzoli. River has just recently finished the final year of his Masters at UofT Opera, and sang the roles of Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro and Henry Crawford in Jonathan Dove’s, Mansfield Park, directed by Tim Albery. In the fall, River will be attending the Glen Gould School as one of the recipients of the Rebanks Fellowship and will be singing the role of Male Chorus in their production of The Rape of Lucretia by Benjamin Britten. River will be performing his first Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Brott Opera in an online medium and is so excited to be returning to the Highlands Opera Festival for another glorious summer.


Kristin LeBlancNew Brunswick soprano Kirsten LeBlanc is currently a member of Opéra de Montréal's Atelier lyrique. She is also currently working towards her Doctorate in Performance at l’Université de Montréal, having already obtained her Masters in Voice and Opera Performance from McGill University, and Bachelors of Music and Biology from Mount Allison University. Recent credits include Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream and La bergère and L’écureuil in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges at l’Université de Montréal, Nella in Gianni Schicchi with the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute and Hanna Glawari in Lehar’s The Merry Widow with McGill Savoy Society. She had the privilege of creating role of Monika in the world premiere of Canadian composer Jim O’Leary’s opera Milk Bar with Mount Allison Opera Workshop in 2014. Other favourite excerpts include Blanche (Les Dialogues des Carmelites), Mimì (La bohème), Micaëla and Frasquita (Carmen), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), and Magda (La rondine). In her first season with Opéra de Montréal, Kirsten covered the roles of Tatyana in Eugene Onegin and La femme in La voix humaine and this coming season will study the role of La Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro.


Lauren MargisonRecognized at an early age for her ability to communicate with an audience, soprano Lauren Margison is making her mark as a young artist of note. Currently a member of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio, she was a member of the prestigious Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal, laureate of Jeune Ambassadrice Lyrique for 2015 and she was the youngest finalist to appear in the prestigious and highly competitive Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Vocal Competition. A finalist and prizewinner in the 2017 George London Foundation Awards, Lauren went on to take first prize in the 2018 competition. She appeared as Mimi in a special presentation of La Boheme with Artists of the COC Ensemble at The Four Seasons Centre, was featured in the COC’s Elektra and looks forward to Micaela in Carmen for Pacific Opera Victoria.

She sang Mïcaela in Carmen with the Brott Music Festival, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with Highlands Opera Studio and appeared in concert with the PRISMA Festival in Strauss’s Four Last Songs. During her 2017-2018 season, Lauren returned to Atelier lyrique and appeared as Clorinda in La Cenerentola with l'Opéra de Montréal and Missia in the Atelier lyrique’s production of La Veuve joyeuse. Lauren has also appeared as a soloist in Hommage à Reynaldo Hahn with the Société d’art vocal de Montréal, in the new opera Mishaabooz’s Realm with the Highlands Opera Studio and Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, and in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Mozart’s Requiem with Vox Luminosa and Choeur de Laval.

A versatile soprano, she has performed extensively both in Canada and internationally, specializing in classical, jazz and pop repertoire. Some highlights include performances for Opera Ontario, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, The Beaches Jazz Festival, the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, the Cincinnati Pops, Hannaford Street Silver Band, the noon hour concerts at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts – Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Ottawa Choral Festival Gala, and the Venetian Ball under the baton of Marco Armiliato, (fundraiser for Villa Charities, Toronto) held on the main stage of the Four Seasons’ Centre for the Performing Arts.

She was chosen as one of four singers to perform the music of Gordon Lightfoot for Gordon Lightfoot at the Lifetime Achievement Heart and Vision Awards and was a featured soloist on the City TV Christmas Carol Sing aired across Canada. She has shared the stage with such distinguished artists as Gordon Lightfoot, Rufus Wainwright, Russell Braun, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Measha Brueggergosman, Nicole Cabell, Louise Pitre, Sheila McCarthy, The Tenors, Jackie Richardson, Rex Harrington, Elaine Overholt, and her father, Richard Margison.

Lauren has appeared as a guest artist with Argentinian tenor, Jose Cura, at the Pavilhao Atlantico in Lisbon, Portugal, performing before an audience of 8,000 and a pan-European television audience. Lauren has also been part of the 4-member female vocal group, ‘The Real Divas’ and their CD, Café Society, is currently in release. After a successful tour of British Columbia and appearing as guest performers on the CBCTV broadcast of the National Jazz Awards, the young women appeared in concerts across the country.

In 2011 she attended the prestigious Castleton Festival in Castleton, Virginia, the brainchild of the late Lorin Maazel, as one of the youngest participants in the vocal division, and in August 2014 was the youngest member of the Highlands Opera Studio. Lauren performs across Canada with her father, Richard Margison, in their vocal duo, ‘Back to Back’, and continues to hone her vocal art under the tutelage of Margison and Valerie Kuinka.

GENA VAN OOSTEN | Mezzo-Soprano

Gena Van OostenMezzo-soprano Gena van Oosten is a graduate of the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program at Vancouver Opera. She was awarded the Vancouver Opera’s Kurt Sickert Memorial Scholarship and has appeared in various roles such as Flora in Verdi’s La Traviata and Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia.

Known for her vocal sensitivity musicality, and feisty stage presence, Gena is a winner of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Western Canada District, and the 2018 Concerto Competition winner for the University of Toronto from where she holds a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from McGill University. Some of her past roles include Thisbe in La Cenerentola (Vancouver Opera), Eduige in Rodelinda (Opera in Concert), the First Witch in Dido and Aeneas (Theatre of Early Music), Erica in Barber’s Vanessa (Summer Opera Lyric Theatre) and the title roles of Handel’s  Rinaldo and Giulio Cesare (Opera McGill). Gena has also been a concert soloist with Theatre of Early Music, the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra, and the Toronto Operetta Theatre.


Maeve PalmerDescribed in review as a “virtuoso singer” (Whole Note), and a “triple-threat [and] talented coloratura” (Opera Canada) Maeve Palmer is a graduate of the U of T Opera School where she studied with Prof. Lorna MacDonald. She is also an alumna of the Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program, and the Sidgwick Scholar Program with Orpheus Choir of Toronto where she sang as soprano soloist.

Recent chamber work includes the Canadian Premiere of Samuel Andreyev’s Iridescent Notation with New Music Concerts, performances of Györgi Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre with Contemporary Music Ensemble, Schafer’s Hymn to Night (Patria IV) and Corilgliano’s Tambourine man with the COC Free Concert Series, and Sokolovic’s Dawn always begins in the bones with the Canadian Art Song Project.

Operatic roles include Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos), Sandrina, and Serpetta (La Finta Giardiniera), Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte), Mary Crawford in the Canadian Premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park, Zerlina (Don Giovanni), and Greta Fiorentino (Street Scene). Oratorio performances include soprano soloist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and Honegger’s King David among others.

Maeve has performed in concert with New Music Concerts, Opera Atelier, Tapestry Opera, Chorus Niagara, Orpheus Choir of Toronto, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Off-Centre Music Salon, and Highlands Opera Studio among others. On soundtrack, Maeve’s voice is featured in the Hollywood film The Space Between Us, and in the TV series Aftermath.

BRUNO ROY | Baritone

Bruno RoyA recent graduate of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble studio program, Montreal-born baritone Bruno Roy is at ease in a broad range of repertoire. This past season was marked by a german debut with Oper Frankfurt in Capriccio in addition to performing in many children's operas(Hansel and Gretel, La bohème) and in concert with the company. During his time at the COC he appeared on the mainstage as Second Priest in The Magic Flute, the Jailer in Tosca, as Louis Schmidt and Dr. François Roy in Louis Riel, Lamoral in Arabella, Marullo in Rigoletto, Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas and also appeared in The Nightingale and Other Short Fables. He has also performed as Belcore in The Elixir of Love (Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal and Opera McGill); John Brooke in Little Women and Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro (Opera McGill); Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette (Canadian Vocal Arts Institute); Matt in Crush (Banff Centre); and L’Horloge/Le Chat in L’enfant et les sortilèges (Opera on the Avalon). In May 2019, he was the baritone soloist in Carmina Burana with the Ottawa Choral Society under the baton of Jean-Sébastien Vallée. Other recent credits include roles debuts with Against the Grain Theatre: Baryton-Martin in Vivier’s Kopernikus and Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro.


Chelsea RusCanadian Soprano Chelsea Rus is a recent graduate of the Atelier Lyrique de L’Opéra de Montréal. Chelsea began her studies at Kwantlen Universtiy as a classical pianist, but left with a diploma in Voice performance. Her passion for singing, led her to go on to complete her bachelors degree and sing her first of many operatic roles at the University of British Columbia. During her final year of her Masters Degree at McGill, Chelsea was the inaugural winner of the Elizabeth Wirth Vocal Competition.

Rus has appeared repeatedly as a soloist with many of the prominent symphonies on the West Coast of Canada, including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Kamloops Symphony Orchestra and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. In 2017-2018 Rus made many debuts in Quebec with Opéra de Montréal, Orchestre Symphonique de Laval, Orchestre Symphonique de Longueil, and with the Orchestre Métropolitan as a Flowermaid in Parsifal with Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Chelsea portrayed the firey Musetta with Highlands Opera Studio, andchampioned the role again with Brott Opera in 2019. With Opera de Montreal, Rus debuted with Lena from Svadba by Anna Sokolovic allowing her to fulfil her strong passion of performing Canadian contemporary works. Other recent operatic appearances include Nadia (La Veuve Joyeuse, Lehar), Frasquita (Carmen, Bizet), Berenice (L’Occasione fa il Ladro, Rossini), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi, Puccini), and Adina (L’Elisir D’Amore, Donizetti). The engagements pending for 2020 include Marzelline in Fidelio with Halifax Symphony Orchestra, Soprano Soloist in Beethoven’s 9th symphony at Maison Symphonique in Montreal, and Donna Elvira with Highlands Opera Studio.


Sara SchabasA native of Toronto, soprano Sara Schabas has been praised for her “crystalline singing” (Schmopera) and “pure sound” (Ludwig van Toronto) and for maintaining a “clear, soft tone, despite her vocal power” (Opera Canada). A 2019 Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Schabas was the winner of the 2018 Career Blueprint Award from the International Resource Centre for the Performing Arts, chosen by Adrianne Pieczonka, O.C., and is the 2019/2020 recipient of the Hnatyshyn Foundation Grant for Classical Vocal Performance.

This season, Schabas makes her debut with Vancouver Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria, starring as the Hummingbird in the world premiere of Maxime Goulet’s The Flight of the Hummingbird, in a tour of Western Canada. She returns to the Internationale Barocktage Melk in Austria, singing First Witch and covering Belinda in Dido and Aeneas with the Concentus Musicus Wien in a televised performance conducted by Stefan Gottfried. She looks forward to soloist debuts with the Bach-Elgar Choir in Handel’s Messiah, as well as performing as Anne Frank in the world premiere of Cecilia Livingston’s Singing Only Softly with Loose Tea Music Theatre.

In the 2018/2019 season, Schabas debuted with Highlands Opera Studio as Najade (Ariadne auf Naxos) and Genovieffa (Suor Angelica), Oakville Masterworks Orchestra in Rutter’s Requiem, and Stratford Summer Music Festival in its gala finale concert. She was also a cover for the Messiah under Daniel Harding and the Concentus Musicus Wien.

Schabas’ previous roles have included Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), Juliette (Roméo et Juliette), Corinna (Il viaggio a Reims), and Frasquita (Carmen), as well as Henri in the Dora-nominated production of Bandits in the Valley with Tapestry Opera. Previous soloist engagements have included Mahler’s Fourth Symphony at the Castleton Festival under Lorin Maazel, as well as performances with the Dayton Philharmonic, Mississauga Symphony, Oakville Chamber Orchestra, and the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series.

A graduate of the University of Toronto and Roosevelt University in Chicago, Schabas has held fellowships at the Aspen Opera Center, Toronto Summer Music Festival, the Castleton Festival and the Fall Island Festival, and was previously an artist-in-residence with the Dayton Opera. Passionate about the intersection of music and social justice, Schabas has also produced the Canadian premieres of Jake Heggie’s one-act Holocaust operas Another Sunrise and Farewell, Auschwitz, and has worked as a singer and volunteer for the charities Songs by Heart and Sharing Notes, bringing music to hospital patients and people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Currently based in Vienna, Schabas continues her studies with Michael Schade and Neil Semer.


Geoffrey SchellenbergPraised for his "impressive vocal colour" (Opera Canada), Geoffrey Schellenberg is a Canadian-American baritone who will join Opéra de Montréal’s Atelier lyrique in September 2020. He is currently completing a second year as a Resident Artist with Portland Opera where he performed a number of roles including Ben, David, and Dr. Gregg in An American Quartet, Nardo in La finta giardiniera, Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Marchese D’Obingy in La traviata. Prior to this residency, Geoffrey was an Emerging Artist with Calgary Opera for the 2017-18 season, performing as the Sergeant in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Captain in Eugene Onegin, and Sciarrone in Tosca.

Geoffrey has become a frequent performer around British Columbia, recently appearing as Schaunard in Vancouver Opera’s La boheme. He also performed as Amantio di Nicolao in Pacific Opera Victoria’s Il trittico, Marcello in White Rock Concerts’ La bohème, and Morales in Opera Kelowna’s Carmen. Additionally, he has sung as a soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, both as Captain in a performance of Candide and as Danilo in their The Look of Love concert.

Geoffrey was a winner of the 2019 and 2015 Western Canada District in the MONC auditions, and a prize winner in the 2016 COC Centre Stage Competition. He furthered his vocal training at Music Academy of the West (2017), appearing as Belcore in their run of L’elisir d’amore. Geoffrey completed his master’s degree under the tutelage of baritone Peter Barcza at the University of British Columbia, and currently studies with bass-baritone Daniel Mobbs.


Tamar SimonHeralded for her “clear vibrant tone” (Opera Canada), Tamar Simon is an Armenian-Canadian soprano embarking on a promising opera career. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Tamar was recently engaged with the Vancouver Opera Festival as the soprano soloist for their New Works Project. She has also sung with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as Valencienne in their Look of Love concert and with White Rock Concerts as Musetta in their production of La Bohème. In 2018, she performed the role of Rosina in Burnaby Lyric Opera’s mainstage production of Il barbiere di Siviglia.

Tamar has also performed internationally, most recently as Zerlina in Hawaii Performing Arts Festival’s 2017 production of Don Giovanni. In 2016, Tamar continued her vocal and art song studies in Austria after receiving the Johann Strauss Foundation Scholarship, which sponsored study at the Internationale Sommerakademie Mozarteum under soprano Helen Donath and baritone Wolfgang Holzmair. Earlier that year, she traveled to Pilzen, Czech Republic and Nürnberg, Germany performing excerpts from La Bohème and Die Fledermaus.

Tamar was a 2016 District Winner and a 2019 Encouragement Award Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She is a graduate of University of British Columbia’s Master of Music program in opera performance. At UBC, she performed many leading roles, most notably the roles of Susanna in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Tytania in Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Foreign Woman in The Consul. Tamar currently studies with acclaimed soprano Heidi Melton.



Vladimir SolovievVladimir Soloviev is a Toronto-based pianist, chamber musician and vocal coach. A musician of a versatile repertoire, Vlad has championed the music of contemporary Canadian composers, as well as works of Beethoven, Liszt and Rachmaninoff.

Vlad has performed in concert across Canada, as well as the US, Italy, France, Spain and Russia. Some of his recent performances include appearances at the Weill Recital Hall (Carnegie), Bohemian National Hall (New York), Salle Cortot (Paris), Kosciuzko Foundation (New York) and others. Over the course of his career Vlad has taken part in a number of competitions, winning the Pattison Piano Competition and the London Scholarship Foundation Competition, and the Western University Concerto Competition. He has won the Golden Classical Music Awards International Competition, and was a finalist at the Pierre-de-Sorel International Competition, the Canadian Music Competition. Vlad has studied in the studios of John-Paul Bracey at Western University, Barry Snyder at the Eastman School of Music and Pavlina Dokovska at the Mannes College. He has performed in masterclasses with a number of distinguished artists, including Paul Badura-Skoda, Andre Laplante, Richard Goode, James Parker, Peter Longworth, Jon Nakamatsu and Eric Owens.

Recently Vlad has been active as a collaborative pianist in Toronto and New York, where he has worked with artists like Tom Diamond, Glenn Morton, Cristina Stanescu, Johnathon Kirby, Siman Chung, Samuel Chan, Lauren Margison and others. In the summer of 2018 Vlad has joined the staff of the Classic Lyric Arts Opera Program in Novafeltria, Italy, as a pianist and conductor. He has participated in a number of festivals, including the Music Fest Perugia, Chautauqua Institute, Brevard and others.

Apart from his recital activity, Vlad has been active in audience outreach. In 2015, he organized a concert series called “Learning to Listen”, aimed at raising public interest in Classical music across the urban and rural communities of Ontario. The series is now in its fourth year and has featured over 50 performances across Ontario. Vlad has also been involved in arts advocacy as the Artistic Director of the Music on Main Concert Series in Newmarket, ON. Vlad remains active as a collaborative pianist and a vocal coach in Toronto and New York City, while holding the position of a music director at the Trinity United Church in Newmarket. Vlad is currently pursuing a Master’s in Collaborative Piano at the University of Toronto.


Elias TheocharidisBorn of Greek and Italian descent, Canadian tenor Elias Theocharidis has been noted as “quite raw” and “exuberant” (John Gilks, operaramblings). Elias has attended summer programs such as the Chautauqua Institution, Curtis Institute of Music's Summerfest, SongFest & St. Andrew's by-the-Sea Opera and Vocal Techniques Workshop. In the 2019-2020 season, Elias sings the roles of Basilio in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and Mr. Rushworth in the Canadian Premiere of Jonathan Dove's Mansfield Park with the University of Toronto Opera School. Elias joins Highlands Opera Studio in July to perform the role of Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. In the 2018-2019 season, Elias performed the role of Daniel Buchanan in the UofT Opera’s production of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene and covered La Podesta in the spring production of Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera. He performed the tenor soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the Toronto Sinfonietta under Maestro Matthew Jaskiewicz. In the Summer of 2019, Elias performed the role of Alex Bello in Lizée/Ivany's No One's Safe and Cornelio in Prestini/Vavrek's Silent Light at The BANFF Centre's Opera in the 21st Century Program in collaboration with Against the Grain Theatre and National Sawdust. Elias also was an Art of Song Fellow at the Toronto Summer Music Festival, working with collaborative pianist, Warren Jones and tenor, Anthony Dean Griffey. June of 2018, at the Chautauqua Institution under Marlena Malas’ voice program, Elias sang in the choruses of L’elisir d’amore, Carmen and The Student Prince, as well as role studying Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore and performing as a Lackey in The Student Prince. Elias also had the great pleasure of singing in recital curated by collaborative pianist, Craig Rutenberg of American song. In the 2017-2018 season, Elias joined the UofT Opera’s new productions of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Gershwin’s Of thee I sing, as a chorus member alongside the University of Toronto’s Opera Undergraduate division. Elias performed the Tenor Soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Georgetown Choral Society. In November 2018, Elias was honoured to be a Finalist in the Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal National Auditions' Callback Competition and Gala. Elias is passionate about the Italian and Bel Canto repertoire, stemming from his European roots, he finds great inspiration from the Italian language and it’s aural and vocal traditions. In his final year of Graduate studies at the University of Toronto’s Opera School, Elias is under the tutelage of renowned soprano Wendy Nielsen; he is a graduate of the Classical Voice Performance program at the University of Toronto.

DYLAN WRIGHT | Bass-Baritone


Dylan WrightOriginally from Calgary, AB, bass-baritone Dylan Wright has been praised for “seducing the audience with his rich, sonorous voice” (Beat Magazine) and is a graduate of the Atelier Lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal. He recently sang Fasolt and Hagen in Berlin Wagner Gruppe and Opera by Request’s full concert production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, the four Villains in Toronto City Opera’s ‘Les Contes D’Hoffmann’, the Bonze and the Imperial Commissioner in Windsor Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Madama Butterfly’, and created the roles of Sherman Booth and Thomas Montgomery in the new opera ‘Joshua’ by Colin Mendez Morris with ArsMusica. He was last at Highlands Opera Studio in 2016, when he sang Mephistopheles in Gounod’s ‘Faust’. Other operatic highlights include the titular role in ‘Don Pasquale’, Dulcamara in ‘L’elisir d’amore’, Leporello and Il Commendatore in ‘Don Giovanni’ and the title role and Bartolo in ‘Le nozze di Figaro’, Seneca in ‘L’incoronazione di Poppea’, Colline in ‘La Boheme’, Rocco in ‘Fidelio’, Frère Laurent in ‘Roméo et Juliette’, Zaccaria in ‘Nabucco’, and Cadmus and Somnus in ‘Semele’. Dylan has also performed as the soloist in such oratorios as the Mozart Reqiuem, Handel’s ‘Messiah’, Haydn’s ‘Die Schöpfung’, and Beethoven’s ‘Mass in C Major’ as well as in musical theatre as Emile de Becque in South Pacific. He holds a MMus in Opera from the University of Toronto and currently studies with Jason Howard.