Tenor Brad Bickhardt, from Columbia, New Jersey is a recent graduate of Indiana University with a Master’s in Vocal Performance, where he also completed his undergraduate degree under the tutelage of Professor Emeritus Andreas Poulimenos. He worked for the previous two years as an Associate Instructor of Voice at IU and maintains a private voice studio. He has previously been on the rosters of The Glimmerglass Festival, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Saratoga, and Charlottesville Opera. Favorite role portrayals have included Alfredo (La traviata), Harlekin (Der Kaiser von Atlantis), Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore), and Tony (West Side Story) which garnered praise for his “soaring voice” (The Herald Times). Mr. Bickhardt has been named an Encouragement Award winner of the Central Region for the Metropolitan Opera National Council, and this previous November, was named a Winner of the Wisconsin District. He is a student of Heidi and Kevin Murphy.
Praised for the “sweet and seductive” tones of her voice, mezzo-soprano Cara Collins is establishing herself through rich singing and dynamic acting. Collins most recently performed Mother and Witch in Hansel and Gretel at Palm Beach Opera, where she was a Benenson Young Artist last season. A lover of new opera, Collins performed the title role of Brittomara in Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s World Premiere of If I Were You at the Merola Opera Program. Other notable roles include Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus at Amarillo Opera, Third Lady in The Magic Flute at Sarasota Opera, Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti at Opera on the James, and Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia at Opera North. Collins’ training includes young artist residencies with Palm Beach Opera, Merola, Sarasota Opera, Opera on the James, Opera North and holds a BM from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music.
Described as having “a gorgeously warm tone and deep resonance” (Opera News), Baritone Darren Drone is quickly making a name for himself in the opera world as an exciting up and comer. His 2020-21 season begins with his second year of residency with Michigan Opera Theatre. During his first year with the company, roles included covering Leporello in Don Giovanni, covering the title role of Sweeney Todd, performing both the title role of Gianni Schicchi as well as Buoso’s Ghost, covering Tonio in Pagliacci, and preparing the role of Young Man/Man in Bar in Champion (canceled due to COVID-19). In the spring of 2020, Mr. Drone was awarded as a semifinalist in the Lotte Lenya Competition, performed with the Detroit Youth Symphony Orchestra, and was scheduled to make his company debut with Opera Maine as William in The Fall of the House of Usher (canceled due to COVID-19). In 2021, Mr. Drone looks forward to making his company debut with Opera Naples as Riff in West Side Story and singing Baron Douphol while covering Germont in La traviata, as well as making a role debut as the title role in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera in the Heights. In the summer of 2021, Mr. Drone will join the Santa Fe Opera, covering the roles of the Count in Le nozze di Figaro, Starveling in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Captain in Eugene Onegin.
Mer Wohlgemuth, Soprano, is from Winter Haven, FL, and just completed her Master of Music in Vocal Arts at The Juilliard School where she continues to study with Marlena Malas. Last fall, Mer sang Despina in Juilliard’s new production of Così fan tutte. Last season, Mrs. Wohlgemuth sang the role of Tytania in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Chautauqua Institution, Belinda in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Juilliard 415, and Tirsi in Handel’s Clori Tirsi e Fileno in Alice Tully Hall. Other past productions include Nerone in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea and various productions of Die Zauberflöte in both America and Germany. She won the Encouragement Award at both the 2019 and 2020 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions(New York Region). Mer is a recipient of the Novick Career Advancement Grant.
Former Resident Artists
Praised for her engaging stage presence and ‘‘full…nuanced’’ voice (Boston Musical Intelligencer), mezzo-soprano Lauren Cook was most recently seen performing LeAnn in a workshop of Missy Mazzoli’s The Listeners with Opera Philadelphia. Notable stage credits include Poppea (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Mélisande (Impressions de Pelléas), Tisbe (La Cenerentola), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Second Lady (The Magic Flute), Tina (Flight), and Eliza (Dark Sisters). Ms. Cook has performed as a soloist in Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center as well as Boston’s Symphony Hall and Museum of Fine Arts. In the 2019 season, Ms. Cook made her debuts with Opera Iowa and Des Moines Metro Opera. She has also appeared with Opera Louisiane, Guérilla Opera, Odyssey Opera, Boston Modern Orchestra Projects, American Opera Projects, Seagle Music Colony, La Musica Lirica, and the Louisiana Opera Outreach Program.
Camron Gray is a native of Winchester, Tennessee. Mr. Gray studied at Tennessee Tech University, receiving two bachelor’s in Music Education and Spanish. Mr. Gray completed his M.M. in Vocal Performance at the School of Music, Theater & Dance (SMTD) studying under George Shirley and is currently completing the Specialist of Music degree at U of M studying voice with Stanford Olsen. Mr. Gray has performed as Tom Snout in Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a faded silent film star, Larry Renault, in William Bolcomb’s latest opera Dinner at Eight, as well as the authoritative, fully-revised version of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, as Robbins and Crab Man in February 2018. During the summer of 2018 season, Mr. Gray sang with Cincinnati Opera as a chorister in La Traviata (Verdi), The Flying Dutchman (Wagner), and Another Brick in the Wall (Bilodeau). In 2019, he was featured in the Glimmerglass Festival as a Stevedore in Jerome Kern’s classic, Show Boat, and the world premiere of Blue by composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson.
Bass-Baritone Cameron Jackson, of Albemarle North Carolina, is a recent graduate of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. During his tenure as a Fletcher fellow, Mr. Jackson portrayed the roles of Don Magnifico in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Golaud in Peter Brooks’ adaptation of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Der Musiklehrer in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, and Alvaro in Catan’s Florencia en el Amazonas. Mr. Jackson’s 2017/2018 season included debuts with Piedmont Opera (Haly, L’italiana in Algeri) and the Princeton Festival Opera (Don Fernando, Fidelio); as well as winning the North Carolina District Encouragement Award in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Described as possessing a “rich and powerful voice” (CVNC), he has also performed with Opera Wilmington, the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra, and Magnolia Baroque.
Gretchen Pille is an American soprano known for her delightfully energetic presence. Ms. Pille is based in New York City, and recently spent the summer as an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera where she study-covered Cunegonde in Bernstein’s Candide and performed on several opera and musical theater scenes programs. An advocate for the creation of new music, Ms. Pille is a founding member of The Meadowlark Project and has organized several Liederabend events which premiered the works of several composers. In 2018 she made her Kennedy Center debut premiering Kevin Walczyks’s Symphony No. 5: Freedom from Fear: Images from the Shoreline. Other recent roles include Queen of the Night and First Lady in the The Magic Flute, Gretchen in The Student Prince, Alexandra in Regina. Upcoming roles include Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica and Nella in Gianni Schicchi. Ms. Pille is from Omaha, Nebraska and holds music degrees from The University of Nebraska and The University of Kansas.