Meet Our Academy Students

Chilean soprano Caterina Asturiano recently graduated from Mannes School of Music, where she studied with Amy Burton. Asturiano has participated in numerous festivals both in the U.S. and internationally including the Miami Summer Music Festival, International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel-Aviv, Israel, and the Summer Voice Festival of the Manhattan School of Music. Additionally, she has participated in master classes with Montserrat Caballé, Nancy Fabiola-Herrera, and Verónica Villarroel. She has concertized regularly both in her native Chile and in New York.
Atlanta native soprano Kerby Baier recently completed graduate studies at East Carolina University in Vocal Pedagogy and Voice Performance. Her undergraduate work was done at Furman University. Roles include Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Anne in A Little Night Music, and Poppea in Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea.
Bass-Baritone Alejandro Cardona is a native of Costa Rica. Opera Naples audiences will remember him as a participant in the Academy last April. His repertoire includes in Rossini’s Cambiale di Matrimonio (Tobias Mill) sung in his native Costa Rica where he also covered the Commendatore in Don Giovanni for Costa Rica National Opera. In the United States, he has sung Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte and the titular role in Le nozze di Figaro for the 2019 Miami Music Festival. Cardona studied with Íride Martínez and conductor Siegmund Weinmeister and has participated in numerous master classes and special studies with Carsten Wittmoser, Manny Perez, Alan Held, Bruce Ford, Bill Schuman, Howard Watkins, Maria Spacagna, and Leonardo Estévez, as well as Sherrill Milnes. Milnes invited Cardona into his voice studio at the Savannah Voice Festival, where he sang in Michael Ching’s innovative opera, Speed Dating Tonight!
Marta de Castro, soprano, began her studies at the Conservatory of Music in Vigo, in her native Spain, continuing in Madrid and the Conservatori del Liceu in Barcelona. Privately, she has studied with both Barbara Bonney and Teresa Berganza. Her repertory is rich and varied, including Desdemona in Otello, Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Fiordiligi in Cosí fan tutte) Salud in La vida breve, Mimí in La bohème, Liu in Turandot, both Micaela and Carmen in Carmen, Cio Cio San in Madama Butterfly,and the titular roles in Manon and Adriana Lecouvreur . De Castro has sung in Europe, South America, and the United States. Most recently she sang the role of Jade Boucher in Dead Man Walking at the Teatro Real in Madrid and at London’s Barbican Theatre. She has won numerous prizes in both her native Spain and Italy. Upcoming engagements include Desdemona in Otello, Micaela in Carmen, and Butterfly in Jerusalem.
Coming soon...
Catherine Gispert, an emerging soprano originally from Miami, FL, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music with an emphasis in Voice Performance from Florida State University. Her most recent operatic performance was Annina in Opera Grand Rapids’ 2019 production of La traviata. Previous roles include ZoZo from The Merry Widow, Young Shepherd Boy from Tosca, and Guillaume from La Chanson de Fortunio, as well as minor parts in Suor Angelica and Madama Butterfly. While in Miami, Catherine performed frequently in various opera choruses, including those of Florida Grand Opera, Miami Lyric Opera, and Barry University, and as a soprano soloist with the Second Avenue Jewish Chorale and Nova Singers. She also attended the Miami Music Festival summer training program. Now residing in Grand Rapids, MI, she is a Soprano Choral Scholar with First (Park) Congregational Church and cantors regularly at the Cathedral of St. Andrew.
Soprano Kathryn Grumley won the Artist Division of the NOA’s 2019 Carolyn Bailey & Dominic Argento Vocal Competition and recently made her role debut as Mimì in La bohème with St. George Opera in Utah. She has sung with Austin Opera as Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Annina in La traviata, and the Nominee’s Wife in The Manchurian Candidate, she also covered Mimí in La bohème and Anna Sørensen in Silent Night. With the Miami Music Festival, she has performed Sister Catherine in Dead Man Walking and Magda in La rondine—a performance praised by the South Florida Classical Review “…[a] hall-filling spinto voice to float Puccini’s phrases with ardor as well as subtlety...sung with just the right touch of lifting enchantment.” The Phoenix native has also sung Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Reparatory Opera Company and Marzelline in Fidelio with Celestial Opera Company. Gumley holds a BSN, is a Certified Critical Care RN (CCRN), and works as an ER nurse in Austin, TX.
Marlina Karimi is a Florida Gulf Coast University graduate and was awarded the Jeanie Queen from the Florida Federation of Music Club’s Stephen Foster State Awards (2018) and the first prize in the 2017 Jillian Prescott Competition (vocal division). She performed scenes from Don Giovanni and Cosí fan tutte, as Donna Anna and Fiordiligi, respectively, in Verona, Italy as a participant in the 2018 summer Opera Viva! program. Additionally, she played the Contessa in Florida Gulf Coast University’s production of Le nozze di Figaro in 2019. Karimi is currently working with Opera Naples as a chorister for the 2019-2020 season, having served as a chorister for both Aïda and Carmen during the previous season. She is the soprano section leader for the Chancel Choir at Moorings Presbyterian Church in Naples.
Coloratura soprano, Jessica Leão, studied at the André da Silva Gomes Conservatory and Universidade Paulista de São Paulo in her native Brazil. She has sung the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte numerous times in Brazil, as well as in Britain. Other roles include Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, Donizetti’s Rita, and Frasquita in Carmen. She has sung at numerous festivals in Brazil, performing Serpina in Pergolesi’s La serva padrona, Nella in Gianni Schicchi, Madame Hertz in The Impresario, and her signature role, the Queen of the Night. On the concert stage, she performed in Carmina Burana and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Orchestra Acadêmica São Paulo at Sala São Paulo and Teatro Bradesco. Leão was a member of the Opera Academy of Theatro São Pedro 2016/2017 and participated in the project Chorakademie Lübeck in Germany in 2014 and 2015, working with Rolf Back, Lucia Duchonova, Helmuth Rilling and Tan Dun. She was the first prize winner in the Young Soloists Competition of OSESP 2019, and took third prize in the 2018 Maria Callas Competition.
Tenor Adam Lowe recently stepped in for an ailing Don José in Mill City Summer Opera’s Carmen, singing the two final acts “valiantly” (Star Tribune) with an “…exceptional instrument.” (Pioneer Press). Other recent engagements include Gastone in La traviata for Capitol Opera Harrisburg, Don José for Case Western Opera, and the Witch in the University of Akron’s Hansel and Gretel. Lowe has enjoyed a varied career: as a trombonist with orchestras, a Shakespearean actor, and as a dancer. His Academy participation indicates that he has now dedicated himself to the art of singing.
Korean-American mezzo-soprano Rachel Moon is known for her sparkling stage presence and vocal beauty. She has appeared as a soloist as well as in ensembles on many stages including The Dallas Opera, Opera Naples, Red River Lyric Opera, Opera Breve, at the historic opera theater of Cagli (Italy), and the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth Texas. This summer, with Spotlight on Opera, Moon will be performing the role of High Priestess in Aïda, as well as covering Dorabella in Così fan tutte, and Secretary in Menotti’s The Consul. In 2017-2018, Moon joined The Dallas Opera’s outreach program as an educational artist. She has participated in training programs such as VOICExperience, Opera Naples, OperaWorks, and Opera in Concerts in Italy. Recent appearances include Musetta in La bohème, Beth in Little Women, Madame Pompous in Too Many Sopranos, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and Ruggiero in Alcina. Other roles include Romeo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, and Nicklausse in Les contes d'Hoffmann.
Having studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on a Presidential Scholarship, soprano Giuliana Torti will continue her musical studies in Miami, FL where she sang as one of the Spirits in Die Zauberflöte at the Miami Music Festival. She has performed in numerous chamber concerts throughout the Bay Area and sung with the contemporary chamber ensemble Mouthscape Choir.
Crystal White, soprano began the 2018-2019 season with her Afro-American Chamber Orchestra Debut leading a concert of spirituals and Opera a La Carte. She also made her Houston Ebony Opera debut performing in Hall Johnson’s revival of Son of Man. Upcoming engagements include performances with Houston Ebony Opera and the Afro-American Chamber Orchestra. In 2016-2017, White participated in the Texas Music Festival at Le Chiavi Bel Canto Institute working with renowned singers and vocal coaches including Dr. Richard Bado, Melanie Sonnenberg, David Burnakus, Ruth Ann Swenson, Nova Thomas, and Ted Taylor. In 2019, White was awarded the Soprano Finalist award from the Butler Opera International competition as well as the 4th annual Saengerbund competition finalist award. In her formal studies, White received the “Winifred and Maurice Hirsch Memorial Scholarship” at the University of Houston and the “Howard Hoard Award in Voice” at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has appeared with the San Antonio Symphony, Moores Opera, Crittenden Opera Studio, and UTSA Lyric Opera. White’s repertoire includes Ann Putnam in The Crucible, Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro, Elisetta in Il Matrimonio Segreto, Fata Morgana in The Love for Three Oranges, Bianca in La rondine, Abbess in Suor Angelica, Alida Slade in Roman Fever, and Agathe in Der Freischütz. White is currently based in Texas, where she studies with Dr. Timothy Jones. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Master of Music degree from the University of Houston.
Soprano Elizabeth Zito is an extremely versatile performer whose repertoire includes Gilda in Rigoletto, Flora in The Turn of the Screw, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Virgin Mary in Oh My Son, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, and the title role in Manon. She has sung under the batons of conductors such as Caren Levine at the Metropolitan Opera, Grzegorz Nowak with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Polish National Orchestra, and Michael Rossi at Washington National Opera, and has also appeared as a guest performer with the Miami City Ballet and York Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, she has performed on Capitol Hill for members of Congress and United States Armed Forces leadership. In addition to her work in opera, Zito also splits time between Miami, Florida, and Washington, D.C. working as an active jazz vocalist. She serves as Director of Music and Worship Leader for Community United Methodist Church in Lancaster, PA, and Assistant Worship Leader at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Springfield, VA. She holds a B.A. in Music from American University and maintains a private studio of piano and voice students.