What is the Opera Carolina Academy?
The Opera Carolina Academy is an exciting new initiative which provides access to music instruction, music-drama instruction, and age appropriate vocal instruction for students of all ages in an artistic atmosphere which emphasizes classical music while honoring the value of musical expression in all genres. The Academy aim is to immerse students in the musical and dramatic training of the art form from the perspective of a professional singer-actor.
For more than a decade, various opera education programs, have significantly increased the awareness of the operatic art form in school age children. Also in that time period, arts instruction, especially in music, has been proven to increase student's cognitive development and improve long term academic performance. The data documenting these practical benefits only continues to grow with every scientific study. Opera Carolina Academy, through its various activities and events, is pioneering the next chapter in the evolution of opera educational outreach.
For more information about the Opera Carolina Academy, contact the Academy Director.
Academy Affiliated Teachers
Brian Arreola - Tenor
Described as a “robust Italian tenor” by the Washington Post, Mr. Arreola was a founding member and co-artistic director of Cantus, the professional touring group dubbed by Fanfare Magazine as “the premier men’s vocal ensemble in the United States.” He co-founded Cantus while a student at St. Olaf College, where he studied cello and voice. His solo performing credits include performances with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Des Moines Metro Opera, the Opera Theater of St. Louis, Minnesota Opera, and his European debut-singing Don José in the Ente Concerti production of Le Cabaret de Carmen in Sardinia, Italy. He reprised this role with American Opera Theater in Baltimore and was recently featured with Opera Carolina singing El Remendado in Carmen and Rodrigo in Otello. Mr. Arreola recently completed his DMA in Vocal Performance at Indiana University, where he studied with Andreas Poulimenos and appeared as Roméo in Roméo et Juliette, Des Grieux in Manon, the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, and Rodolfo in La Bohème. He is presently a member of the voice faculty at UNC Charlotte.
Christopher Caleffi is a native of Los Angeles, California and graduated from the University of Southern California in 1985. Christopher lived and worked in Germany and Austria for 12 years singing opera, operetta and musicals in a variety of theaters and venues, including a production of My Fair Lady in German as Freddy Eynsford-Hill. He auditioned and earned contracts in Vienna, Austria at the Raimundtheater, specializing in Viennese operetta, at the Landestheater Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany, the Staatstheater Kassel, Landestheater Salzburg, Riverside Opera in California, Arizona Opera (Tucson Opera), and many other independent productions in the USA and Europe. He studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Hochschule fuer Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna, and with teachers including Ruth Miller Chamlee, Ina Souez (Los Angeles), Igor Gorin (Tucson), Rudolf Knoll (Salzburg) and Kammersaenger James King (Vienna). Mr. Caleffi currently lives in Charlotte with his wife, Dr. Maria Boccia, and serves on the Artists Advisory Council of Opera Carolina.
Jacquie Culpepper - Lyric Soprano
Ms. Culpepper’s career has taken her across the United States, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and Asia. Career highlights include 85 roles in opera, oratorio, and international concert tours with American Voices. A special highlight was performing a recital in Belgium to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Europe and the end of World War II. A featured guest artist at the Breckenridge (Colorado) Music Festival for 13 years, she has also sung with symphony orchestras, opera companies, and music festivals across the United States. Signature works include the Countess in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder. Ms. Culpepper has performed on PBS with national broadcasts of An Evening with Cole Porter and Salute to Masterpiece Theatre. She currently is Artist Associate of Voice at Davidson College, where she has taught for ten years. Previously she was on the faculties of Meredith College, Warren Wilson College, and Gaston College. Her students have won numerous competitions, scholarships, and awards and Ms. Culpepper has judged competitions such as the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and the NATS Artist Awards.
Jennifer Hough - Lyric Soprano
Ms. Hough received her Bachelor of Music in Performance from Winthrop University, her Master of Music in Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is currently pursuing a DMA in Vocal Performance from UNCG. Her teachers and coaches include Dr. Carla LeFevre, Jerry Helton, Dan Pardue, Benton Hess, and Dr. Andrew Harley. She currently serves on the voice faculty of Winthrop University where she teaches applied voice, diction for singers, and voice methods. Ms. Hough served as both Technical Director and Assistant Conductor for the Greensboro Opera Camp hosted by the Greensboro Opera Company. She is an active soloist of both recital and oratorio including performances of Carmina Burana, the Mozart Requiem, and Handel’s Messiah. On stage she has been seen in a variety of roles, including Pamina from The Magic Flute, Cupid from Orpheus in the Underworld, Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady, and Marion from The Music Man. Ms. Hough has successfully competed in a variety of competitions including winning North Carolina Division of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Awards in 2004. She is a native of the Carolinas and an active member in the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
Kay Irmiter - Soprano
As both a performer and a teacher, Kay Irmiter has a long and rich history in the music profession. Honored by NATS in 1991 as one of the 10 most outstanding young voice teachers in the nation, her students have been enjoying great success ever since. Ms. Irmiter’s studio has produced regional MET audition winners, professional performers and a 100% success rate by high school students auditioning for college scholarships. Her performing credits include appearances as Mimi in La Bohème, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Despina in Così fan tutte, and the title role in Madama Butterfly among others. She has performed with the Atlanta Symphony, Asheville Symphony, Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, served a two year term as a visiting artist with the North Carolina Arts Council, and was a frequent recitalist in her early years. Ms. Irmiter holds a BM from Winthrop University, an MM from UNC-Greensboro and a DM (ABD) in Opera Performance at Florida State University. She was a member of the music faculty at Winthrop University for ten years teaching Voice, Opera Workshop, Opera Literature and Vocal Pedagogy. Ms. Irmiter was Co-Founder and Director of a private Arts Academy and currently teaches voice at Queens University. She is particularly proud of her work assisting students to address vocal damage and rehabilitate their instrument. From preparing high school students for scholarship auditions to preparing professionals for performances, she finds helping students discover their highest level of achievement “better than applause.”
Kristopher Irmiter - Bass-Baritone
A Grammy-nominated artist who has performed in all 50 states and throughout Canada, Bass-Baritone Kristopher Irmiter is one of the most sought after low voices in the U.S. With over 90 roles in his performed repertoire, Mr. Irmiter has exhibited a vast range both vocally and dramatically in performances with L'Opera de Montreal, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Carolina, Atlanta Opera, San Francisco Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Arizona Opera, and Florida Grand Opera among many others. In addition to his accomplished performing credits Mr. Irmiter has a strong and growing reputation as a teacher and mentor to young singers. He developed the pilot young artist program for The Green Mountain Opera Festival in Vermont and served as the director of that program in its inaugural year. He has conducted master classes for the Utah Opera Young Artist Program and several universities including the University of Texas, the University of Memphis, Portland State University, and the University of South Carolina. He taught voice and opera workshop in his seven years on faculty with Winthrop University and has maintained a private studio for more than 15 years. A regular guest artist with Opera Carolina, he recently has appeared in the title roles of Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro, as Escamillo in Carmen and Don Alfonso in Cosí fan tutte. Mr. Irmiter currently serves as Director of the Opera Carolina Academy and Chairs the Artists Advisory Council for the company.
Victoria Livengood - Mezzo-Soprano
Internationally-renowned Metropolitan Opera star, Victoria Livengood is a Grammy-nominated mezzo-soprano that has been hailed by audiences and critics worldwide for her powerhouse performances in a remarkably varied repertoire. The Thomasville, North Carolina native skyrocketed onto the opera scene in 1985 as a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and went on to make her mark on the opera world with her critically acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in 1991 as Laura in Luisa Miller under James Levine's baton. Since then she has become best known for her dynamic portrayals in well over 100 performances with the prestigious company, and has established herself as a 'house favorite.' She reached yet another career milestone when she triumphed in the title role of Carmen at the Met, fulfilling a life-long dream. One critic stated, “No previous Met Carmen has approached Livengood's passionate acting and powerful vocalism." Victoria's illustrious career has taken her throughout Europe, South America, Canada and the United States. The mezzo has also presented highly regarded recitals and Master Classes for students at the Universities of North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Temple, and East Carolina. She is on the board of overseers for The Boston Conservatory of Music and serves on the board of the Jenson Foundation in North Carolina. She has served as a judge for the Washington International Vocal Competition as well as the Queens Opera competition and is a member of the Artists Advisory Council for Opera Carolina.
A native of Chicago, IL, Ilana Dorfman has performed in numerous operas. Her most notable roles include Adina in L'Elisir d'Amore, Miss Wordsworth in Albert Herring, Königin der Nacht in Der Zauberflöte and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. In concert, she has performed Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate, and Richard Strauss's Brentano Lieder, among others. Mrs. Dorfman holds a BM, BME and MM in vocal performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. She taught music in both public and private schools in Chicago and Boston. She currently teaches private voice in Huntersville, NC where she resides with her husband and their 3 young children.
Katherine Luna - Soprano
Katherine Luna first came to the attention of the New York public and press when she scored a triumph as Suor Angelica at Juilliard's American Opera Center. Since this debut, she has sung all over the United States, from New York Grand Opera, to Baton Rouge Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Washington Opera and more. Her most performed roles include those from Il trovatore, The Marriage of Figaro and La boheme; she has also taken the stage in productions of Verdi's Don Carlos and La traviata, Bizet's Ther Pearl Fishers and Carmen, Puccini's Madama Butterfly to name a few. Equally at home on the concert stage, orchestral engagements include Beethoven Symphony No.9 with the Mexico City, El Paso and Davenport Symphonies, Carmina Burana with Los Angeles Master Chorale and Messiah at Augustana College. As a solo recitalist she has sung at Carnegie Recital Hall, Lincoln Center Library and the Spoleto USA Festival.
Jessie Martin - Mezzo-Soprano
Dr. Jessie Wright Martin is Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Opera at Wingate University. She is a frequent performer of recitals, oratorio, opera, and operetta. She has performed for 11 seasons with the Ohio Light Opera and can be heard on multiple recordings with Albany Records and Operetta Archives. She is also a teacher of the Alexander Technique.