MOT Studio - Michigan Opera Theatre

The five resident artists of Michigan Opera Theatre Studio – soprano Avery Boettcher, mezzo-soprano Katherine DeYoung, tenor Edward Graves, baritone Darren Lakeith Drone, and bass Allen Michael Jones represent some of the most exciting emerging talent in opera today. Coming to Detroit from all different areas of the country, from September to June these young opera professionals gain valuable experience through myriad performance opportunities in main stage and community productions, and regional outreach presentations. Throughout their residency, studio artists benefit from advanced individual training and guidance from MOT’s Director of Resident Artist Programs, American tenor, Richard Leech, and hone their skills through master classes and instruction from an array of world class professionals, guest artists, and coaches.

Supported by a major grant from the William Davidson Foundation, the program serves as a central component of MOT’s enhanced presence in the community through our productions in the Detroit Opera House, community venues, and through recitals and special events. An important and unique element of the program is that MOT’s community initiative productions are now selected and mounted specifically for the Studio Program. The artists will fill the leading roles in Gianni Schicchi (MOT’s sixth consecutive season of producing an opera in a community venue). Marc Scorca, President and CEO of Opera America said the program “adds an important dimension to the American training infrastructure, and another element to MOT’s broad community service.” Throughout the 2019-20 Season, the studio artists will also fill essential roles in all main stage productions.

 

2019-20 Roster

Avery Boettcher

Soprano Avery Boettcher has performed a wide array of roles both in the United States and abroad, ranging from Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro with La Musica Lirica in Italy to the lighter operetta and musical theater roles of Yum-Yum in The Mikado with Viterbo University. Recently she was seen as Donna Elvira in Indiana University Opera Theater’s production of Don Giovanni and Zweite Dame in The Magic Flute with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. She also performed Fredrik Sixten’s Requiem and Tarik O’Regan’s Triptych with the Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee. Prior to MOT, Avery was an opera fellow in the Aspen Music Festival where she performed John Harbison’s Mirabai Songs with the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, as well as Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the Aspen Conductors Orchestra. Her awards include being named the third place winner in the Central Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the first place winner of the National Society of Arts and Letters Voice Competition. This summer, she will sing the role of the countess in The Marriage of Figaro at the Aspen Music Festival. Next season, she will make her role debut as Zerlina in Don Giovanni with MOT and sing the role of Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi.

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Katherine DeYoung

Traverse City native Katherine DeYoung is the resident mezzo-soprano of the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio. Her recent MOT roles include Mae in The Grapes of Wrath, Sandman in Hansel and Gretel, the Old Lady in Candide and the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors. Last summer, she performed as an apprentice with Santa Fe Opera and holds a master’s degree at the University of Houston where she performed Isabella in The Italian Girl in Algiers, Gertrude in Romeo and Juliet and Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible. She also performed the title role in Carmen with Opera in the Ozarks. In February, she won the Online Viewers’ Choice Award in Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers. She is also a District Winner of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and is an alumna of Michigan State University. Come spring she will perform the role of Zita in Gianni Schicchi and Buoso's Ghost.

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Edward Graves

Tenor Edward Graves is a native of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Recent performances include Robbins in Porgy and Bess with South Florida Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Opera. He was also a soloist with the NSO Pops with the Heritage Signature Chorale at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and performed President H.W. Bush’s funeral with the Cathedral Choir at the Washington National Cathedral. Prior to MOT, he was a 2017-18 Baumgartner Studio Artist at Florentine Opera in Milwaukee, where he performed in The Merry Widow, Venus and Adonis, Dido and Aeneas and The Magic Flute. He received his Performer Diploma and Master of Music degree in Voice Performance from Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music and holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Towson University. This summer he will take part in a world-premiere of Blue, a newly-commissioned opera written by Jeanine Tesori at The Glimmerglass Festival. This season he will perform Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi with MOT.

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Darren Lekeith Drone

Darren Lekeith Drone comes to the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio as its resident baritone. With a repertoire in both opera and musical theater, his performance credits include roles in The Daughter of the Regiment, La Cambiale di Matrimonio and Lohengrin as well as performances in Newsies, Dreamgirls and Les Miserables. Darren has been an apprentice with Tulsa Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Opera Southwest, Opera in the Ozarks and Opera Neo and also performed with Heartland Opera Theatre, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, Arkansas Repertory Theatre and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. His awards include first prize in the Benton-Schmidt Competition, a two-time finalist in Trinity Showcase Presents and a winner and finalist for numerous National Association of Teachers of Singing musical theatre and classical competitions. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech University and has continued additional post-graduate studies at the University of Oklahoma. He will perform the title role of MOT’s production of Gianni Schicchi in spring of 2020.

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Allen Michael Jones

Atlanta native Allen Michael Jones is the resident bass of the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio. He recently performed Maximilian in Candide, Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors and Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin with MOT. Previous roles include Don Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro with the University of Georgia, Sarastro in The Magic Flute, Colline in La bohème with Georgia State University (GSU) and Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville with both GSU and Atlanta Opera’s Touring Company. He holds a master’s degree in Voice from Georgia State University and is also a professional voice-over and radio artist. This season with MOT he will perform Masetto in Don Giovanni and Betto di Signa in Gianni Schicchi.

Last season's Studio Artists. (L-R) Returning singers Allen Michael Jones and Kathryn DeYoung, and three we bid farewell — Michael Day, Cheyanne Coss, and Harry Greenleaf.

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