About Young Artists Program

Professional Diploma in Opera Program
Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts
in conjunction with Chicago Opera Theater 

The Professional Diploma in Opera Program offers singers and pianists of exceptional career promise two years of continued guidance in their development as artists. On a scholarship basis, participants receive weekly voice lessons, vocal and dramatic coaching, seminars, and performance classes concentrating on audition preparation with CCPA’s illustrious faculty. In addition to recital programs and further operatic and concert projects at CCPA, diplomatists are also Young Artists with Chicago Opera Theater, where they participate on a per production basis as ensemble members and soloists, engage with COT artists in master classes, and perform outreach. 

Graduates are now appearing as solo artists and on the music staffs of major international and American companies, as well as with regional companies and music festivals. Among these are Berlin’s Deutsche Opera, The Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Ireland’s Wexford Festival, the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Teatro Regio Torino, English National Opera, Muscat Royal Opera Oman, Jalisco Philharmonic in Guadalajara, Casalmaggiore International Music Festival, Astoria Music Festival, Music by the Lake, Santa Fe Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Central City Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kentucky Opera, Minnesota Opera, New Orleans Opera, Castleton Festival, Cincinnati Opera, Milwaukee Opera, Madison Opera, and Opera North. They are in residencies with companies such as Florida Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, Kentucky Opera, Opera Colorado, and attending apprentice programs including Santa Fe Opera, San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Des Moines Metro Opera, Green Mountain Opera, and the Sugar Creek Festival of Opera and Song. 

In recent years, Diplomatists have won the Opera Prize in the S’Hertogenbosch International Competition, first place in Chicago’s Union League Civic & Arts Foundation’s Classical Music Competition, Opera Birmingham Competition, Chicago’s Musician’s Club of Women, placed in the finals of the international Neue Stimmen Competition, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Center, and the national semi-finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Find more information about the COT/CCPA Diploma Program here.

17-18 Young Artists Program

Alexandra Martinez-Turano

A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Alexandra Martinez-Turano recently “smoldered sexily in her dancing and singing” (Chicago Tribune) while making her mainstage debut as Helena in a new production of The Fairy Queen with Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera. Alexandra has performed the roles of Sandrina, Echo, Pamina, Adele, Anna, Julie Jordan, Pernille, and Suor Genovieffa. She has performed with Chicago Opera Theater. Opera Southwest, OperaWorks, Landmark Musicals, University of New Mexico’s Opera Theatre and Symphony Orchestra, University of Southern California Opera Theater, and the La Mirada Symphony amongst others. She made her European debut in the summer of 2012 with the International Lyric Academy in Viterbo, Italy singing the role of Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica. Alexandra is a recent graduate from University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music earning a Masters of Music degree. In the fall of 2016, she began the Professional Diploma in Opera Studies program at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

Quinn Middleman

Mezzo-soprano Quinn Middleman is currently a Young Artist at Chicago Opera Theater. Recent engagements include covering Dorabella in Così fan tutte and performing Entertainer in Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace with Central City Opera, where she received the John & Ginny Starkey Award as an outstanding young artist. This year, Quinn debuts with Haymarket Opera in the role of Songe in Ariane et Bachus. In the 2016-2017 season, Quinn appeared with COT in Le vin herbé, Fairy Queen, and The Perfect American, and performed with Long Beach Opera in Fairy Queen. She appeared in recital as a recipient of the Musician’s Club of Women Farwell Trust Award, and performed the alto solos in Handel’s Messiah and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.

Quinn’s education includes two summers at the Tanglewood Music Center, a master’s degree in Voice from Northwestern University, Bachelor’s degrees in Oboe Performance and Vocal Arts from the University of Southern California, a fellowship with SongFest@Colburn, and a summer with Aspen Music Festival. She currently studies with Judith Haddon.

Zacharias Niedzwiecki

Zacharias Niedzwiecki, a Michigan native, received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University. He has performed in numerous productions with Michigan State University Opera Theater, including the collegiate premier of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Grapes of Wrath as Connie Rivers; Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance as the Pirate King; Jacques Offenbach’s Les Conte d’Hoffman as Schlemiel; Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel as Jimmy/ Cypress Stark; Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme as Colline; and two productions with Spiro Productions and The Other Mirror’s partnership production of Claude-Michel Schönburg’s Les Misérables as Javert. Along with being a Young Artist with Chicago Opera Theater, Zacharias performs with Opera Grand Rapids in its Emerging Artist Program.

Patrick Dean Shelton

Tenor Patrick Dean Shelton is currently a Young Artist of the Roosevelt University CCPA Professional Diploma in Opera program. He is a recent graduate of New England Conservatory where he was a student of soprano Jane Eaglen. In the summer of 2016, Patrick was a Fellow at the Music Academy of the West. He has also been a young artist at Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and The Brevard Music Center. He has performed the roles of Lola (“gender bent” Damn Yankees), Don Curzio (Le nozze di Figaro), L’Aumonier ( Dialogues of the Carmelites), Monostatos (Die Zauberflote), Beadle (Sweeney Todd), Mayor Upfold ( Albert Herring) and Dr. Caius (Falstaff).

Lani Stait

Soprano Lani Stait is a second-year young artist with Chicago Opera Theater. A native of Annandale, Virginia she now calls Chicago her home. This year with company she will be featured as Anna Gomez/TheConsul, and appearing in Il pigmalione & Rita. Last season she was featured as Isolt/The Love Potion and appeared in Fairy Queen and The Perfect American.

This summer Lani performed with the Cincinnati Opera chorus in Opera in the ParkDie Zauberflote, and La Boheme. Lani also recently won first place in the highest division of the NATS competition, and was a semi-finalist and Bravo Award recipient in the Bel Canto Foundation young artists competition. In Chicago, she has also appeared as Suor Angelica/Suor Angelica (Opera West), and in concert with the Chicago Chamber Orchestra.

Lani is an alumna of University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance, as well as University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Emma Ritter

Emma Ritter is a 24 year old Mezzo-soprano, from Greenville, South Carolina. She graduated from Valparaiso University, in Northwest Indiana with a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal performance 2015. At Valpo, Emma was seen in productions such as Dido & Aeneas (Dido), Sweeney Todd (Mrs. Lovett), and Hansel and Gretel (Hansel). She was also a two time winner and performer in the Concerto Competition with the Valparaiso University Orchestra.

This May, Emma will graduate with a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. At Eastman, Emma has taken part in many productions, these include: Cendrillon (Madame de la Haltière), Turn of the Screw (Mrs. Grose), Le Nozze di Figaro (Marcellina), and Suor Angelica (La Zelatrice). While at Eastman, Emma has also been awarded the Honorable Mention Awards in both the Jessie Kneisel Lieder Competition and the Friends of Eastman Opera Aria Competition.

After graduation, Emma will spend eight weeks in sunny Santa Barbara as a Voice Fellow at the prestigious Music Academy of the West.

Samuel Weiser

Samuel J. Weiser, bass, is a current student of Bruce Hall at Roosevelt University CCPA. Samuel graduated cum laude B.S. Ed in Music Education from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Roles include Colline/La Bohème; Sarastro/Die Zauberflöte; Elder Ott/Susannah; Sicario/Macbeth; Dr. Caius/Falstaff; Dr. Caius/Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor; David/A Hand of Bridge; Il Commendatore/Don Giovanni and Jasper/L’Ivrogne Corrigé. In April of 2016 Samuel was chosen as a 1st prize winner of the Monastero’s Bel Canto Contest, student division. In November of 2015, Samuel premiered Thunder, Perfect Mind by Chicago composer, Christopher Preissing. Recently, Samuel was chosen as a Gerdine Young Artist and appeared with Opera Theatre of St. Louis this summer. In St. Louis, Samuel appeared as the Valet in Macbeth, Sergeant in La Bohème, and as Clumsy God in the World Premier of Shalimar the Clown. Samuel also covered Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos and Banquo in Macbeth.


Scott Gilmore
Director of Musical Studies for the Young Artists Program

Scott Gilmore’s operatic credits as coach, assistant conductor and chorus master include the San Francisco Opera, Salzburg Festival, Cologne Opera, Opéra de Lyon and Opera Australia. He has worked with major international conductors, including Daniel Barenboim, James Conlon, Charles Mackerras, Michelangelo Veltri, Carlo Felice Cillario and Kent Nagano. His work in the training and development of singers has taken him to positions with the Opéra national de Paris, London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the San Francisco Opera Center and the young artist programs of Cologne Opera, Opera Australia, and Florida Grand Opera. He is currently Head of Music Staff and Director of Musical Studies at Chicago Opera Theater, and Assistant Professor of Opera and Vocal Coaching at Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University, where he studied piano with Dr Ludmila Lazar. He is a guest coach at the Santa Fe Opera, an adjudicator for The Metropolitan Opera Competition, and a contributing editor to Boosey & Hawkes’ series of operatic choral octavo editions. An active vocal recital accompanist, he has been heard live, on recording, and in both television and radio broadcasts. The San Francisco Chronicle dubbed him “a singer’s colleague and best artistic friend.”