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Summer Opera Program – Stafford Opera Troupe

Jul 21, 2018 - Jul 22, 2018
All Day

Mountain View High School
2135 Mountain View Rd, Stafford, VA 22556
Stafford, VA

Stafford Opera Troupe will be holding the 2018 Summer Opera Program at Mountain View High School from July 12-August 4, 2018. This fun and educational program serves singers aged 15 and older with private voice lessons, masterclasses, workshop sessions, and group rehearsals culminate in a public performance of Pauline Viardot’s whimsical operetta “Cinderella” on August 3-4. Best of all, it’s TUITION-FREE! Applications are now open; singers may audition via recording to participate in the Summer Opera Program and be cast in the opera. Learn more and apply at The final application deadline is June 1.

A team of volunteers founded Stafford Opera Troupe in 2016 with the goal of nurturing local singers to grow in an exciting and encouraging environment. “It all started in Mrs. Bonita Keene’s chorus classroom at Mountain View High School,” says Bree Nichols, co-founder of Stafford Opera Troupe. “The young singers’ responses to learning about and hearing opera were so enthusiastic, it made us realize how little opportunity they have to experience classical voice in their hometown– and we felt that had to change! So we teamed up to craft an experience that would allow these young singers to delve into the world of opera, developing their musical abilities and becoming well-rounded performers.”

The inaugural Summer Opera Program was held in 2016, culminating in a performance of classic opera scenes; at the 2017 program, SOT presented its first full-length production, Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” with enrollment nearly doubled in numbers. The entire program continues to be funded by community donations. Contributions are collected at

“There are hundreds of Young Artist training programs for burgeoning singers in the U.S., but most of them cost thousands of dollars,” Nichols commented. “We believe the Summer Opera Program provides valuable performance experience and training for young singers, and with the support of the community, it is our goal to keep offering it tuition-free.”

One distinctive aspect of this summer program is its Peer Mentorship program. According to the Stafford Opera Troupe website (, “SOT’s Peer Mentors are carefully selected, experienced singers with collegiate vocal training. Peer Mentors perform in SOT’s productions alongside the younger singers, sharing knowledge and experience garnered through their training and serving as role models both musically and professionally.”

This year the Summer Opera Program returns with its second full production. “Cinderella” is French composer Pauline Viardot’s charming and comical setting of the classic fairy tale, composed in lush Romantic style and written to be accompanied by piano. Italian pianist Oleg Bellini returns this year to rehearse and perform the operetta as a member of the Stafford Opera Troupe faculty.

“We are performing an English translation of ‘Cinderella,’ originally titled ‘Cendrillon’ and equal in its balance of soul-touchingly beautiful music and lighthearted comedy,” says Bree Nichols. “The work is just over an hour in length and features an ensemble and seven roles, making it the perfect way to showcase this year’s singers. We can’t wait to bring it to life this summer.”
2018 Summer Opera Program faculty include Bree Nichols (Co-Founder and General Director), Corinn Keene (Co-Founder and Stage Director), Mrs. Bonita Keene of MVHS (Musical Consultant & Liason), Rachel Eve Holmes (Guest Voice Instructor), Oleg Bellini (Collaborative Pianist), Ms. Kathlyn Kulp (Rehearsal Pianist), and more.

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