We are thrilled to announce our 2019-2020 Michigan Opera Theatre Studio Artists! Returning are mezzo-soprano Katherine DeYoung and bass Allen Michael Jones, joined by soprano Avery Boettcher, tenor Edward Graves and baritone Darren Drone!
These up-and-coming singers will spend one to two years with MOT, receiving advanced training and performance opportunities. You'll see them perform in our main-stage operas throughout the year and star in Gianni Schicchi/Buoso's Ghost at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts Feb. 29-March 1.
Meet the new class below!
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.”
Traverse City, Michigan 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. Next season she will perform the role of La Ciesca in “Gianni Schicchi.”.
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” next season.
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. Next season, he will perform Rinuccio in “Gianni Schicchi” with MOT.
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. Next season he will perform Masetto in “Don Giovanni” and Betto di Signa in “Gianni Schicchi” with MOT.