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Virginia Opera Emerging Artists

 Emerging Artists withText sm 2015-16Virginia Opera's 2014-15 Emerging Artists as part of the Master Teacher Series

The Virginia Opera Emerging Artist Program provides training, performance opportunities and access to industry connections and resources to a group of Opera’s talented rising stars. As one of the most competitive training programs in the nation, the Emerging Artist Program has over 650 applicants annually for an average of 12-20 artist contracts. Our Emerging Artists appear in Virginia Opera mainstage productions, touring educational productions and perform in recitals, donor events and our Master Teacher Series. Recent alumni of the Emerging Artist Program (formerly known as Spectrum Artists) include: David Pershall, Brian Jagde, Julia Ebner and Nathan Stark.

Princess and the Pea

Performing Opportunities

Virginia Opera's Emerging Artists perform leading and comprimario roles and/or cover leading roles in the company's mainstage productions. Additionally, some Emerging Artists perform leading roles in fully-staged Education and Community Outreach productions that tour schools throughout the state of Virginia. Community concerts and company promotional concerts offer artists the opportunity to perform standard arias and ensembles in concerts with piano. Emerging Artists are regularly re-engaged for main stage productions in future seasons.

Study Opportunities

Each participant receives regular coaching with members of Virginia Opera's Artistic Staff, which include Principal Coach Shelby Rhoades, Resident Conductor Adam Turner and various guest conductors, directors, and singers. Master classes are held throughout the season covering topics such as resume preparation, auditioning techniques, stagecraft and foreign languages.

Our program provides exceptionally talented emerging artists with a seasonal residency program that offers an extensive schedule of performing opportunities in the context of a professional training program. Emerging Artists receive weekly compensation, plus housing and transportation to Virginia.

Virginia Opera is committed to finding and training the outstanding artists of tomorrow. Those selected to participate in the program will be challenged and supported by an outstanding staff.

Apprentice Coaches

Education and Community Outreach Performance Opportunities

Apprentice Coaches must serve as musical directors and pianists for Education and Community Outreach productions. They also serve as coaches for the resident young artists, preparing them for their mainstage roles, cover roles, and concerts. Coaches learn the basics of artistic administration and company management by serving as  tour managers, as well as providing coaching for the young artists' personal repertoire. Apprentice coaches are adjunct members of the mainstage musical staff. They are scheduled to serve as pianists for cover rehearsals.

Mainstage Performance Opportunities

Apprentice coaches are adjunct members of the mainstage musical staff. They are scheduled to serve as rehearsal pianists in several mainstage productions and serve as pianists for cover rehearsals. Community concerts and company promotional concerts offer apprentice coaches the opportunity to perform for a variety of audiences.

Study Opportunities

Each participant receives coachings from Principal Coach Shelby Rhoades and Resident Conductor Adam Turner. Coaches will receive training and support from administrative staff to aid in tour management. The in-house artistic staff offers classes in resume preparation and auditioning techniques during the course of the season. Master classes are held with visiting stage directors and other distinguished guests throughout the season.

Candidate Qualifications

Apprentice coaches should have attained at least a Bachelor of Music degree in piano and have exceptional experience in vocal accompanying. Graduate work is strongly preferred. Individuals should be capable of managing artists on tour and overseeing non-artistic aspects of the Virginia Opera's Emerging Artists.

Apply to the Program

Please send your resume and a cover letter via e-mail to We would also welcome an MP3 or video of your playing.

The Audition

For the audition, please prepare a Mozart finale and a 10-minute excerpt from a standard opera by Puccini, Verdi, Strauss or other romantic composers. You will also be asked to sing vocal lines in order to demonstrate your understanding of the integration between the vocal lines and the orchestra.


2015-16 Application & Audition Information


At this time, applications for the 2015-2016 Emerging Artist Program are closed. For more information on how to apply for the 2016-2017 program, please check our website in the summer of 2016.


Judges’ forms and comments are the sole property of Virginia Opera and will not be made available to applicants.    


Congratulations to those singers who are granted auditions for the 2015-2016 Emerging Artist Program. Artists must confirm their audition with Alexandra Stacey, by email at or by phone at (757) 213-4541 no later than November 26, 2014. 

To view your audition date and time, please open the Audition Listing Announcement.

Auditions for the 2015-2016 season will be held in New York City. Preliminary rounds will take place on December 8, 9 and 10, 2014; and the final round will take place on December 11, 2014. All candidates must be available to sing on one of the preliminary dates AND on the date of the final round. Virginia Opera will provide an accompanist. Guest accompanists are not permitted. Candidates should prepare five (5) arias. Your repertoire should include a variety of languages and styles.