Sara Tucker Study Grants

Sara Tucker Grants are supported by a generous grant from the Agnes Varis Trust

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen countertenor, 23

In the 2017-18 season, American countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen looks forward to joining the Houston Grand Opera Studio, as the first countertenor in the Studio’s history, where he will sing Nireno in Handel’s Giulio Cesare and a Maid in Strauss’s Elektra. He will also join American Bach Soloists for their 20th annual performances of Handel’s Messiah in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, and Ars Lyrica Houston for two concert programs, featuring works by Bach and Handel. In his breakout 2016-2017 season, Cohen was a Grand Finals winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, first-prize winner in the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition, and winner of the Irwin Scherzer Award as a finalist in the George London Foundation Competition. Other highlights of the season include singing the world premiere performances of Kenneth Fuchs’s Poems of Life with the Virginia Symphony, followed by a recording of the piece with the London Symphony Orchestra for release in 2018 on the Naxos label; and concerts with early music groups the Newberry Consort in Chicago and Operamission in New York City. In the summer of 2017 he will join Wolf Trap Opera as a Studio Artist.

Alexander McKissick tenor, 25

Alexander McKissick is a Toulmin Scholar at the Juilliard School, where he received his Bachelor’s of Music Degree and will receive his Master’s Degree in May. While at Juilliard, he has performed the roles of Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte, Le journaliste in Les mamelles de Tirésias, Ein Soldat in Der Kaiser von Atlantis, and Brack Weaver in Kurt Weill’s Down in the Valley. McKissick sang the role of Ramon in La Navarraise at the 2016 Bard SummerScape festival, and has sung the 4th Jewish Holy Man in a concert version of Strauss’s Salome with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Last summer, he attended the Georg Solti Accademia di Bel Canto in Castiglione della Pescaia, Italy, where he participated in masterclasses with Richard Bonynge, Angela Gheorghiu, and Carmen Giannattasio. He has won awards from the Opera Index Competition and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Vocal Competition. This summer, McKissick performs the role of Val in Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Alfredo in La traviata at the Aspen Music Festival.

Christian Pursell bass-baritone, 26

Born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, bass-baritone Christian Pursell was a 2016 National Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He sang the roles of Senator Potter’s Assistant and the Priest in the critically acclaimed world premiere of Gregory Spears’s Fellow Travelers at Cincinnati Opera, and his debut season with that company also included the Jailer in Tosca and a solo performance with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. In conjunction with graduate studies at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati (CCM), Pursell was engaged by Opera Fusion: New Works in October 2015 to sing Abdullah in Jack Perla’s Shalimar the Clown, and returned in the fall of 2016 to workshop the role of Tom in Laura Kaminsky’s Some Light Emerges. Recent roles include Pandolfe in Massanet’s Cendrillon and Harašta in The Cunning Little Vixen at CCM; the Herald in Rigoletto at Opera San Jose; and Marcello in La bohème and Belcore in L’elisir d’amore at San Francisco Conservatory. Upcoming engagements include Pilate in a staged production of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at CCM and Dandini in La Cenerentola at Merola Opera.

Cody Quattlebaum bass-baritone, 23

Cody Quattlebaum, from Ellicott City, Maryland, is pursuing his Master of Music degree at Juilliard, where he studies with Marlena Malas. He received his bachelor’s degree from the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. Quattlebaum has performed Claudio in Agrippina, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Lautsprecher in Der Kaiser von Atlantis, Der Fischer in Matsukaze, and the Colonel in the first workshop of Daniel Catán’s Meet John Doe. He recently sang Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with Merola Opera and will return this summer for the title role in William Walton’s The Bear. He has been awarded prizes by the George London Foundation, Corbett Opera, James Toland, Gerda Lissner Liederkranz, CAM Heida Hermanns, and Opera Index competitions, and advanced to the semi-finals of the 2016-17 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In March, he was featured in San Francisco Opera’s Schwabacher Debut Recital, and he will be a member of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program this summer. At Juilliard, he holds an Irene Diamond Graduate Fellowship and the Risë Stevens Scholarship.

Taylor Raven mezzo-soprano, 25

Taylor Raven is a first-year Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist for the 2016-17 season, with roles including Oronte in Handel’s Richard the Lionheart and Hannah in Laura Kaminsky’s As One. In the summer of 2016, Raven performed scenes in the Schwabacher Summer Concert with San Francisco Opera‘s Merola Opera Program. She also recently performed the role of Marian Anderson in Deep River: Marian Anderson Journey with Virginia Opera. While earning her Master of Music degree at the University of Colorado-Boulder, she had a string of successful productions with Eklund Opera, including Angelina in La Cenerentola, Ottavia in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance, and Die Knusperhexe in Hänsel und Gretel. In 2015, Raven won both the Adelaide Bishop Award at Central City Opera and First Place in the Denver Lyric Opera Guild Competition.

Jack Swanson tenor, 25

Stillwater, Minnesota native Jack Swanson began this year at Opera Memphis, performing the role of Frederick in The Pirates of Penzance. Other engagements this spring include concerts with the Houston Symphony, the Florida Orchestra and the Oregon Symphony, followed by a reprise of the role of Don Ramiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola with Opera Delaware. This summer, Swanson makes his European debut singing the role of Albazar in Garsington Opera’s production of Il turco in Italia, before performing Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Glyndebourne Touring Company in the fall. In 2018, he sings the title role in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by James Conlon, at Los Angeles Opera. Swanson won the top prize from the The Sullivan Foundation in 2016, the grand prize in Florida Grand Opera’s Young Patroness Competition, and first place in the San Antonio Music Club Competition, the National Opera Association Competition and the Hal Leonard Art Song Competition. In 2016, he was featured on National Public Radio’s Young Artist in Residence program, Performance Today. He earned his Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.

Vanessa Vasquez soprano, 26

Currently a third-year Resident Artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts, Vanessa Vasquez won top prize at the 2017 Gerda Lissner Foundation International Competition, and was a National Winner of the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Upcoming performances include Liù in Turandot at Des Moines Metro Opera. This spring she also appears as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte at AVA, where her other roles have included Gilda in Rigoletto, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, and Mimì in La bohème. Earlier this year she was the soprano soloist in Bach’s cantata “Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich” with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and was a featured soloist with the same conductor and orchestra in the Academy of Music 160th Anniversary Concert and Ball. In 2016 alone she won First Prize in the Giulio Gari Foundation Competition; First Prize in the Loren L. Zachary National Vocal Competition; Top Prize in the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation International Vocal Competition; and First Prize and Audience Favorite in the Southwest Vocal Competition. Vasquez earned a Master of Music degree in Opera Performance from the University of Los Angeles.

Sara Tucker Study Grant Winners 1998-2016

  • 2016 Michael Brandenburg, Nicholas Brownlee, Samantha Hankey, Megan Mikailovna Samarin, Laura Wilde
  • 2015 Julie Adams, D’Ana Lombard, Sean Michael Plumb, Reginald Smith, Jr.
  • 2014 Benjamin Bliss, Anthony Clark Evans, Patrick Guetti, John Holiday, Amanda Woodbury
  • 2013 Tracy Cox, Anthony Kalil,Will Liverman, Zachary Nelson, Lauren Snouffer
  • 2012 J’nai Bridges, Brandon Cedel, Scott Connor, Mark Diamond, Margaret Mezzacappa
  • 2011 Jennifer Johnson Cano, Ryan Speedo Green, Cecelia Hall, Andrew Stenson, Elizabeth Zharoff
  • 2010 Leah Crocetto, Nathaniel Peake, Nadine Sierra, Rachel Willis-Sørensen
  • 2009 Paul Appleby, Valentina Fleer, Joélle Harvey
  • 2008 Caitlin Lynch, Heidi Melton, Tamara Wilson
  • 2007 Michael Fabiano, Amanda Majeski, Lisette Oropesa, Alek Shrader
  • 2006 Stephen Costello, Ann McMahon Quintero, Trevor Scheunemann
  • 2005 Jordan Bisch, Michael Todd Simpson, Dimitri Pittas
  • 2004 Carolyn Betty, Sarah Coburn, Quinn Kelsey, Laquita Mitchell
  • 2003 Brian Mulligan, Garrett Sorenson, Christian Van Horn
  • 2002 Meredith Arwady, Michael Maniaci, Erin Marie Wall, Kristine Winkler
  • 2001 Jennifer Check, Ian Greenlaw, Jossie Pérez, Barbara Quintiliani
  • 2000 Eric Cutler, Latonia Moore, Celena Nelson Shafer, Joshua Winograde
  • 1999 Galen Scott Bower, Patrick Carfizzi, Theodore Green, Jennifer Welch
  • 1998 Sari Gruber, Mark McCrory, William Andrew Stuckey, Maris Vipulis

Robert M. Jacobson Study Grants 1988-1997

  • 1997 John Autry, Daniel Belcher, Meagan Miller, Charles Reid
  • 1996 Jill Grove, Nicole Heaston, Thomas Studebaker, Gregory Turay
  • 1995 Eric J. Owens, John Packard, Emily Pulley, Laura Tucker
  • 1994 Richard Clement, Christine Goerke, John Packard, Laura Tucker
  • 1993 Kelly Anderson, Margaret Lattimore, Gary Lehman, Janelle Robinson
  • 1992 Janice Chandler, Mary Dunleavy, Derrick Lawrence, Marie Plette
  • 1991 Steven J. Condy, Daniel Smith, Tracey Welborn
  • 1990 Denyce Graves, Camellia Johnson, Mark Oswald, Angela Randell
  • 1989 Michael Forest, Phyllis Pancella, Tichina Vaughn
  • 1988 Jeff Mattsey, Christopher Robertson, LeRoy Villanueva