Brandon Bell, Baritone, Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
Brandon Bell (he/him/his) is a young baritone making waves in the operatic landscape within North America. In the 2022-23 season, Mr. Bell joins Pittsburgh Opera as a Resident Artist where he sings Boy in Denis and Katya, Huntsman in Rusalka, and covers the Count in Le nozze di Figaro, singing the role in a student matinée performance. This season, Mr. Bell also joins Opera Philadelphia in their workshop of 10 Days in a Madhouse, the Brooklyn Art Song Society and Salt Creek Song Festival as a recital artist, and joins Santa Fe Opera as an Apprentice Singer.
Evan Lazdowski, Bass-Baritone, Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
Praised in Opera News for his "warm, hearty bass-baritone," Evan Lazdowski has been seen in Pittsburgh Opera’s recent productions of Le nozze di Figaro (Figaro and Antonio), and Ariodante (Il Re). Upcoming engagements include La bohème (Colline) at the Berkshire Opera Festival, and Sweeney Todd (Sweeney Todd, cover) and La Tragédie de Carmen (Zuniga/Garcia) at Chautauqua Opera as a Studio Artist. Mr. Lazdowski is an alum of the Gaddes and Gerdine programs at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Renée Fleming Artist Fellowship program at the Aspen Music Festival, and the Young Artists Vocal Academy at Houston Grand Opera.
Danielle Obisie-Orlu, 2021–2022 Youth Poet Laureate of Allegheny County
Danielle Obisie-Orlu is a Nigerian-American PhD student at Cornell and recent Pitt graduate. She is an actress, and poet who grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the former Youth Poet Laureate of Allegheny County and the National Youth Poet Laureate Network’s Northeast Regional Runner-Up 2022. She graduated this Spring with a Bachelor of Philosophy in International & Area Studies. As a trained public speaker, she is devoted to using her voice to foster environments of intersectional community, build bridges of belonging, and advocate for a society that is inspired by and acts toward peace. Danielle has published select poems in various anthologies and performed poetry alongside many artists and organizations including the renowned Toi Derricotte, City Asylum, the International Crisis Group, and today: Opera America.
Daniel O’Hearn, Tenor, Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
Hailed by onStage Pittsburgh for his “pure and true, distinctly timbred tenor voice”, Daniel O’Hearn is an emerging full lyric tenor. A native of Chicago, Illinois, he is currently a Resident Artist with Pittsburgh Opera. His 2022/2023 season responsibilities included performing Lurcanio in Ariodante, Ruiz in Il trovatore, and both Don Basilio and Don Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro. This season, he also made debuts with Washington Concert Opera as Lord Cecil in Roberto Devereux, with the Metropolitan Opera as First Armored Guard in The Magic Flute, and with Vashon Opera as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto.
Jazmine Olwalia, Mezzo-Soprano, Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
Mezzo-soprano Jazmine Olwalia has been praised for her vocal “agility and rich tone” and as a “comedic delight.” She is a current Resident Artist at Pittsburgh Opera and has been featured this season as Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, Ariodante in Ariodante, Third Wood Sprite in Rusalka, and Girl in Denis and Katya. She will return to Pittsburgh for the 2023-24 season as Priestess in Iphegénie en Tauride, Little Sister in Proving Up and Phoebe in The Passion of Mary Cardwell. Recent engagements have been with Portland Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Wolf Trap, and Annapolis Opera. Jazmine has also received recognition from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Dallas Opera Guild Biennial Competition, the George Shirley Vocal Competition, the Hilda Harris Mezzo-soprano prize and the Houston Gilbert and Sullivan Competition.
Emily Richter, Soprano, Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
Emily Richter enjoyed her past season at Pittsburgh Opera where she performed the roles of Ginevra in Ariodante, Ines in Il Trovatore, 2nd Woodsprite in Rusalka and covered Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro with a matinee performance. She looks forward to her 23/24 season where she will perform Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Iphigénie in Iphigénie en Tauride, Ma in Proving Up and cover Violetta in La Traviata.
She has also sung with Santa Fe Opera, Seagle Festival and Opera McGill. Significant awards include 2nd place at the Laffont 2023 Great Lakes Region and the 2021 Writh Prize Winner.
Julia Swan Laird, Soprano, Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
Delaware native Julia Swan Laird has had an exciting year as a Resident Artist with Pittsburgh Opera, where she performed First Wood Sprite in Rusalka, Barbarina and a student matinee performance of Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Dalinda in Ariodante. Other companies she has sung with include Pittsburgh Festival Opera, OperaDelaware and Baltimore Concert Opera (now Opera Baltimore), Piedmont Opera, North Carolina Opera, Tulsa Opera, and OperaWest!. Julia placed third in Opera Ithaca’s 2023 Young Artist Competition and has been a finalist for the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition, Pittsburgh Festival Opera Mildred Miller Competition, MIOpera Competition, and the Saltworks Opera Competition.
Mark Trawka, Director of Musical Studies and Chorus Master, Pittsburgh Opera
Mark Trawka joined Pittsburgh Opera as Director of Musical Studies for the prestigious Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Training Program in the 2003-04 season. In 2006-07, he took on the position of Chorus Master.
He has been on music staff at Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera and Portland Opera (Oregon). Mr. Trawka served as coach/accompanist at Chautauqua Opera and at Glimmerglass Opera for many summer seasons. He has been on the coaching faculty for Songfest (formerly in Los Angeles) since 2015.
Mr. Trawka began his operatic career in the Houston Opera Studio and in San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program.
The opening sequence was originally presented at Opera Conference 2023 in Pittsburgh, PA, on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.