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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Meet six of Canada’s rising opera stars

Vancouver Opera welcomes a half-dozen rising stars to this year's Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program.

Vancouver Opera will welcome a half-dozen rising stars to this year’s Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program.

Designed to be a bridge between formal educational programs and the professional opera world, the residency program provides singers, pianists and stage directors opportunities to train with industry leaders and receive hands-on experience.

“The experience participants receive through our residence program is instrumental in preparing them for a successful professional career in opera,” Vancouver Opera’s program director Leslie Dala.

Created in 2012, the residency program is made possible through a gift from the family of Yulanda M. Faris. A member of the National Arts Centre’s board of trustees and recipient of the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts, Faris was a champion for the arts in Vancouver for more than 40 years before her death in 2015. Among her many contributions to the arts, she and her husband were instrumental in helping to establish Vancouver’s Scotiabank Dance Centre.

“We are extremely proud to be able to offer this program again this year and are thrilled that these six artists have accepted our invitation to join our distinguished program,” says Vancouver Opera general manager Tom Wright.

While acknowledging that Vancouver Opera’s 2020-2021 season will be different due to the pandemic, Wright goes onto say the program will still provide participants with high calibre training and mentorship as well as unique opportunities for performance experience.

“We look forward to showcasing their work at the end of the season,” he continues. “Details to be announced soon.”

Here are this year’s participants in Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program:

Jonelle Sills, soprano

Jonelle Sills

Toronto soprano Jonelle Sills is a Dora Award-winner for outstanding performance of an Ensemble in Vivier’s Kopernikus with Against the Grain Theatre. Jonelle has an Artist Diploma in Voice Performance/Opera from The Glenn Gould School and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, Specialized Honours in Music from York University. Jonelle has recently been named as one of CBC Music’s classical “30 under 30” performers for 2020.

Amanda Weatherall, mezzo-soprano

Amanda Weatherall
Amanda Weatherall

Cranbrook native and mezzo-soprano Amanda Weatherall has a Bachelor of Music Honours in Performance Voice and a Master of Music in Literature and Performance Voice from Western University.

Ian Cleary, tenor

Ian Cleary
Ian Cleary

Originally from Chatham, Ontario, tenor Ian Cleary recently completed an Opera Diploma at the University of British Columbia and has a Bachelor of Music from Wilfred Laurier University.


Luka Kawabata, baritone

Luka Kawabata
Luka Kawabata

Vancouver baritone Luka Kawabata holds a Master of Music in Opera Performance from the University of British Columbia. Last season, Luka understudied the role of Owl in Vancouver Opera In Schools’ production of The Flight of the Hummingbird.

Amy Seulky Lee, pianist

Amy Seulky Lee
Amy Seulky Lee

Vancouver-based pianist Amy Seulky Lee holds a Master of Music in Collaborative Piano from the University of Toronto, where she studied with Professor Steven Philcox, and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of British Columbia where she studied with Dr. Terence Dawson.

Dana Fradkin, stage director

Dana Fradkin
Dana Fradkin

Toronto-based stage director Dana Fradkin is a graduate of the George Brown Theatre School, Second City Conservatory and completed an Opera Director Residency at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.  Dana is also an award-winning actor, writer, and is co-founder of the Dora Award-winning theatre company, Keystone Theatre.

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