RESIDENT ARTISTS

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Incredible Working Artists

During these unprecedented times, your support has truly never meant more. Give a gift of any amount in support of these artists to ensure that the vibrancy of their craft is shared with every opera-lover in our community.

Vanessa Becerra, Soprano

Peruvian & Mexican American Soprano Vanessa Becerra has been praised for her “bold and bright” singing (Opera News) and lauded for her “charismatic and eloquent” presence (San Francisco Chronicle).

The 2020-2021 season begins with a return to Opera San José. COVID-19 cancellations include a role/house debuts at Virginia Opera for Le nozze di Figaro(Susanna)and Amarillo Opera for Il barbiere di Siviglia(Rosina), and a return to Opera San José for West Side Story(Maria). Last season, Vanessa debuted at Houston Grand Opera in the world premiere of El Milagro del Recuerdo(La mujer)and Washington National Opera in Don Giovanni(Zerlina). COVID-19 cancellations include a return to Fort Worth Opera for Die Fledermaus(Adele),a role debut with Opera Omaha in Le nozze di Figaro(Susanna),and a role/house debut with Amarillo Opera in Il barbiere di Siviglia(Rosina). Additional recent appearances include Francesca Zambello’s West Side Story(Maria) with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, The Glimmer glass Festival, and Atlanta Opera. She also joined the roster of The Metropolitan Opera and returned to Opera Omaha for Glass’s Les enfants terribles(Lise).

Vanessa debuted with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel in Die Zauberflöte(Papagena), San Francisco Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomasin Candide(Paquette), Lyric Opera of Chicago in Fellow Travelers(Miss Light foot), Opera Delaware and Baltimore Concert Opera in Werther(Sophie),Opera Omaha in Medea(Glauce), and Atlanta Opera in Sweeney Todd(Johanna). The winter of 2017 saw Ms. Becerra’s return to Opera San José as the title role in Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella(featured internationally on Medici.tv) conducted by Jane Glover.

Tara Branham, Director

Tara Branham is a director and producer of opera and theatre living in Chicago. Directing Credits: Little Women(First Folio Theatre); Another Jungle (Cloudgate); octagon(Jackalope); good friday(Self-Produced with Oracle);Bars and Measures(Prop Thtr). Recent Assistant Directing Credits: Freedom Ride (Chicago Opera Theatre); Fire Shut Up in My Bones, La Traviata (Opera Theatre of St. Louis); Madama Butterfly, Hansel and Gretel, Die Fledermaus(Opera San Jose); The Consul(Long Beach Opera). Tara is a recipient of the National New Play Network Producer-in-Residence Fellowship with Prop Thtr where she founded the Chicago Directors Workshop committed to the development of directors.

Maya Kherani, Soprano

Lauded for her vibrant voice and exciting characterizations in repertoire from the Baroque to the modern, soprano Maya Kherani returns to Opera San José as a 2020/21 Resident Artist. She made her company debut as a guest artist during the 2017-18 season, appearing as Despina in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Yvette (Lisette cover) in Puccini’s La Rondine, and in 2018 as Blonde (cover) in Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. Additional career highlights include starring in the title role of Handel’s Partenope with Opera NEO; Meera in the premiere of Jack Perla’s The River of Light, commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera; and Altisidore in Boismortier’s Don Quichotte chez la Duchesse with Central City Opera. Upcoming debuts include engagements with the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Vancouver Symphony, and Boston Baroque. She received First Place and Audience Favorite at the James Toland Vocal Competition, two Encouragement Awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and this year, was the only American soprano to compete as a Semifinalist in the international Glyndebourne Opera Cup.

Sponsored in part by: Profs. John Heineke & Catherine Montfort

Carlos Enrique Santelli, Tenor

Tenor Carlos Enrique Santelli makes his company debut with Opera San José in the 2020/21 company of Resident Artists. Santelli was a winner of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National and Council Auditions and has appeared in a special gala celebrating the ten-year anniversary of La Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program. He recently appeared with Dayton Opera as Count Almaviva in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and performed as a tenor soloist in Mendelssohn’s Die Erste Walpurgisnacht (The First Walpurgis Night) with the Sacramento Choral Society. On the concert stage, Santelli performed Mendel’s Messiah with the Boise Philharmonic as well as a joint recital with his wife, mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, who will be a fellow 2020/21 Resident Artist.

Christopher James Ray, Conductor

Conductor Christopher James Ray returns to Opera San José for a second consecutive year in the company’s resident ensemble. In 2017 he joined the music staff of the renowned Bayreuth Festival, where he worked on productions of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin, Götterdämmerung, Tristan and Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal. Christopher made his professional debut leading a double bill of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci with Mississippi Opera in 2014. Past conducting credits with Opera San José include Il trovatore, Hansel & Gretel, Die Fledermaus, Moby Dick, and Pagliacci. As assistant conductor, Ray has worked with the San Francisco Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Salzburg State Theater, North Carolina Opera, and Sarasota Opera. A protégé of American composer Carlisle Floyd, Ray is a sough-after interpreter of Floyd’s works. In addition to serving as the assistant to the composer, he recorded an album of Floyd’s songs with the celebrated mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer.

Sponsored in part by: Michael McGinley

Ashley Dixon, Mezzo-Soprano

A Grand Finals winner of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon is quickly establishing herself as one of the most exceptional artists of her generation. In February 2020, Dixon made her critically acclaimed debut with the Los Angeles Opera, stepping in as Sara in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux alongside bel canto veterans Ramon Vargas and Angela Meade, under conductor Eun Sun Kim. The Los Angeles Times declared Dixon, “A young mezzo soprano worth paying attention to” who “brought an excellent fluidity to Sara.” A 2019 alumna of San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship, Dixon made her SFO mainstage debut in Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s It’s a Wonderful Life as Angel First Class. During her two-year Adler tenure, she was also heard as Mércèdes in Bizet’s Carmen, the Third Wood Sprite in Dvořák’s Rusalka, the Italian Singer in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, and the Sandman in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. As a two-year participant in the Merola Opera Program, Dixon performed as La Ciesca in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Mrs. Nolan in Menotti’s The Medium, Popova in William Walton’s The Bear, and ended her summer season on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House, singing an aria from Massenet’s Cendrillon as part of the Merola Grand Finale concert.

Eugene Brancoveanu, Baritone

Growing up in Romania and Germany, baritone Eugene Brancoveanu studied at the Academy of Music in Transylvania, Romania and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria before pursuing a successful international career, earning critical acclaim throughout North America and Europe. Career highlights include receiving a Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre for his participation in the principal ensemble (as Marcello) in Baz Luhrmann’s innovative Broadway production of Puccini’s La bohème, and his performance in the title role of Shostakovich’s Orango with the Los Angeles Symphony under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen and Peter Sellers, which was recorded for Deutsche Grammophon. Known for his robust voice and superior stagecraft, Brancoveanu was an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera for two seasons, directly following his critically acclaimed summer 2004 performances of Tarquinius in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia with the Merola Opera Program. Discovering Opera San José’s European style Resident Artist program, Brancoveanu was immediately drawn to the organization and appeared as a guest artist as early as 2014. Last season he became a Resident Artist, performing in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (as Eisenstein),  Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (Father), and Verdi’s Il trovatore (Count de Luna).

Sponsored in part by: Amici di Musica Bella, Elizabeth F. Adler

Efraín Solís​, Baritone

Baritone Efraín Solís also makes his company debut with Opera San José this season. A recent graduate of the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship and alumnus of the prestigious Merola Opera Program, he has been applauded by the San Francisco Chronicle for his “theatrical charisma and musical bravado.” Solís was a Grand Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2013, as well as a finalist in Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition and the Loren L. Zachary Society for the Performing Arts National Vocal Competition. Solís has been seen with opera companies throughout the nation, including Utah Opera, Opera Carolina, Virginia Opera, Toledo Opera, West Edge Opera, Opera Saratoga, Livermore Valley Opera, and Opera Memphis.

Sponsored in part by: Jan & Don Schmidek

Nathan Stark, bass-Baritone

Seen as a guest artist at Opera San José, bass-baritone Nathan Stark returns as Resident Artist for the 2020-21 season. Praised by The Washington Post for having a voice of “unearthly power,” by the Houston Press as a “blow-away singer,” and The Mercury News as a “natural comic actor,” he has performed with opera houses throughout the United States including the Metropolitan Opera, Atlanta Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Arizona Opera, Virginia Opera, Dayton Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Stark was the 2006 Southern California District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera Competition, and First Place winner of the Los Angeles Classical Singers Association, in addition to awards from the Palm Springs Opera Competition, Fort Worth Opera Competition, the Brentwood Artist of Cultivating Brilliant Artistry Tomorrow Competition, The Opera Buffs Competition, The Pasadena Opera Competition, The Columbus Opera Aria Competition, and recipient of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Corbett Opera Scholarship.

Sponsored by: Mary & Clinton Gilliland

Tara Branham

Tara Branham is a director and producer of opera and theatre living in Chicago. Directing Credits: Little Women(First Folio Theatre); Another Jungle (Cloudgate); octagon(Jackalope); good friday(Self-Produced with Oracle);Bars and Measures(Prop Thtr). Recent Assistant Directing Credits: Freedom Ride (Chicago Opera Theatre); Fire Shut Up in My Bones, La Traviata (Opera Theatre of St. Louis); Madama Butterfly, Hansel and Gretel, Die Fledermaus(Opera San Jose); The Consul(Long Beach Opera). Tara is a recipient of the National New Play Network Producer-in-Residence Fellowship with Prop Thtr where she founded the Chicago Directors Workshop committed to the development of directors.

Maya Kherani

Lauded for her vibrant voice and exciting characterizations in repertoire from the Baroque to the modern, soprano Maya Kherani returns to Opera San José as a 2020/21 Resident Artist. She made her company debut as a guest artist during the 2017-18 season, appearing as Despina in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Yvette (Lisette cover) in Puccini’s La Rondine, and in 2018 as Blonde (cover) in Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. Additional career highlights include starring in the title role of Handel’s Partenope with Opera NEO; Meera in the premiere of Jack Perla’s The River of Light, commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera; and Altisidore in Boismortier’s Don Quichotte chez la Duchesse with Central City Opera. Upcoming debuts include engagements with the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Vancouver Symphony, and Boston Baroque. She received First Place and Audience Favorite at the James Toland Vocal Competition, two Encouragement Awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and this year, was the only American soprano to compete as a Semifinalist in the international Glyndebourne Opera Cup.

Sponsored in part by: Profs John Heineke & Catherine Montfort

Carlos Enrique Santelli

Tenor Carlos Enrique Santelli makes his company debut with Opera San José in the 2020/21 company of Resident Artists. Santelli was a winner of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National and Council Auditions and has appeared in a special gala celebrating the ten-year anniversary of La Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program. He recently appeared with Dayton Opera as Count Almaviva in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and performed as a tenor soloist in Mendelssohn’s Die Erste Walpurgisnacht (The First Walpurgis Night) with the Sacramento Choral Society. On the concert stage, Santelli performed Mendel’s Messiah with the Boise Philharmonic as well as a joint recital with his wife, mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, who will be a fellow 2020/21 Resident Artist.

Christopher James Ray

Conductor Christopher James Ray returns to Opera San José for a second consecutive year in the company’s resident ensemble. In 2017 he joined the music staff of the renowned Bayreuth Festival, where he worked on productions of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin, Götterdämmerung, Tristan and Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal. Christopher made his professional debut leading a double bill of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci with Mississippi Opera in 2014. Past conducting credits with Opera San José include Il trovatore, Hansel & Gretel, Die Fledermaus, Moby Dick, and Pagliacci. As assistant conductor, Ray has worked with the San Francisco Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Salzburg State Theater, North Carolina Opera, and Sarasota Opera. A protégé of American composer Carlisle Floyd, Ray is a sough-after interpreter of Floyd’s works. In addition to serving as the assistant to the composer, he recorded an album of Floyd’s songs with the celebrated mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer.

Sponsored in part by: Michael McGinley

Ashley Dixon

A Grand Finals winner of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon is quickly establishing herself as one of the most exceptional artists of her generation. In February 2020, Dixon made her critically acclaimed debut with the Los Angeles Opera, stepping in as Sara in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux alongside bel canto veterans Ramon Vargas and Angela Meade, under conductor Eun Sun Kim. The Los Angeles Times declared Dixon, “A young mezzo soprano worth paying attention to” who “brought an excellent fluidity to Sara.” A 2019 alumna of San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship, Dixon made her SFO mainstage debut in Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s It’s a Wonderful Life as Angel First Class. During her two-year Adler tenure, she was also heard as Mércèdes in Bizet’s Carmen, the Third Wood Sprite in Dvořák’s Rusalka, the Italian Singer in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, and the Sandman in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. As a two-year participant in the Merola Opera Program, Dixon performed as La Ciesca in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Mrs. Nolan in Menotti’s The Medium, Popova in William Walton’s The Bear, and ended her summer season on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House, singing an aria from Massenet’s Cendrillon as part of the Merola Grand Finale concert.

Eugene Brancoveanu

Growing up in Romania and Germany, baritone Eugene Brancoveanu studied at the Academy of Music in Transylvania, Romania and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria before pursuing a successful international career, earning critical acclaim throughout North America and Europe. Career highlights include receiving a Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre for his participation in the principal ensemble (as Marcello) in Baz Luhrmann’s innovative Broadway production of Puccini’s La bohème, and his performance in the title role of Shostakovich’s Orango with the Los Angeles Symphony under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen and Peter Sellers, which was recorded for Deutsche Grammophon. Known for his robust voice and superior stagecraft, Brancoveanu was an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera for two seasons, directly following his critically acclaimed summer 2004 performances of Tarquinius in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia with the Merola Opera Program. Discovering Opera San José’s European style Resident Artist program, Brancoveanu was immediately drawn to the organization and appeared as a guest artist as early as 2014. Last season he became a Resident Artist, performing in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (as Eisenstein),  Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (Father), and Verdi’s Il trovatore (Count de Luna).

Sponsored in part by: Amici di Musica Bella, Elizabeth F. Adler

Efraín Solís

Baritone Efraín Solís also makes his company debut with Opera San José this season. A recent graduate of the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship and alumnus of the prestigious Merola Opera Program, he has been applauded by the San Francisco Chronicle for his “theatrical charisma and musical bravado.” Solís was a Grand Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2013, as well as a finalist in Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition and the Loren L. Zachary Society for the Performing Arts National Vocal Competition. Solís has been seen with opera companies throughout the nation, including Utah Opera, Opera Carolina, Virginia Opera, Toledo Opera, West Edge Opera, Opera Saratoga, Livermore Valley Opera, and Opera Memphis.

Nathan STark

Seen as a guest artist at Opera San José, bass-baritone Nathan Stark returns as Resident Artist for the 2020-21 season. Praised by The Washington Post for having a voice of “unearthly power,” by the Houston Press as a “blow-away singer,” and The Mercury News as a “natural comic actor,” he has performed with opera houses throughout the United States including the Metropolitan Opera, Atlanta Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Arizona Opera, Virginia Opera, Dayton Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Stark was the 2006 Southern California District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera Competition, and First Place winner of the Los Angeles Classical Singers Association, in addition to awards from the Palm Springs Opera Competition, Fort Worth Opera Competition, the Brentwood Artist of Cultivating Brilliant Artistry Tomorrow Competition, The Opera Buffs Competition, The Pasadena Opera Competition, The Columbus Opera Aria Competition, and recipient of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Corbett Opera Scholarship.

Sponsored by: Mary & Clinton Gilliland

Previous Resident Artists page coming soon!