Awards and Grants

The Sara Tucker Study Grant

2016 Sara Tucker Study Grants


Michael Brandenburg, tenor, 29
In 2013, Michael Brandenburg was one of six Grand Finalists in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and one of two Grand Finalists in the Bel Canto Competition in Chicago. He was a top prizewinner in the 2015 George London Foundation Competition, and received an emerging artist award in the 2014 Opera Index Competition. As a Domingo/Cafritz Young Artist with Washington National Opera, he made his professional debut as the Steersman in Wagner’s Flying Dutchman. Last year he returned to Washington National Opera as Don José in Carmen, and he looks forward to covering Froh in the company’s upcoming “Ring” Cycle. After making his Glimmerglass Festival debut as Macduff in Verdi’s Macbeth, he returns to sing Rodolfo in the festival’s new staging of La bohème. He also recently made his role debut as Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with North Carolina Opera.

Nicholas Brownlee, bass-baritone, 26
Nicholas Brownlee is a 2015 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a first place winner of the Palm Springs Opera Guild Competition. This season, in his second year as a Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist at the Los Angeles Opera, he makes role debuts as the Speaker in The Magic Flute, the Bonze in Madama Butterfly, and Captain Gardiner in Moby-Dick, all conducted by James Conlon, and as Colline in La bohème under Gustavo Dudamel. Colline is also the vehicle for Brownlee’s upcoming Atlanta Opera debut, and he looks forward to appearing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen as the Physician in Pelléas et Mélisande, before returning to Los Angeles Opera and making his Metropolitan Opera debut next season.

Samantha Hankey, mezzo-soprano, 24
Samantha Hankey is currently pursuing her Master’s of Music degree at New York’s Juilliard School, where she appears in Cavalli’s La calisto and participates in live-streamed masterclasses with both Joyce DiDonato and Fabio Luisi this season. This summer she looks forward to attending Germany’s prestigious Internationale Meistersinger Akademie. Hankey has previously appeared at Juilliard as Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro), Miss Todd (The Old Maid and the Thief), and Filipyevna (Eugene Onegin), and at the Aspen Music Festival as Dorabella (Così fan tutte) and Mercédès (Carmen). She has also covered Zenobia (Radamisto) and Le Prince Charmant (Cendrillon) at Juilliard and Rosina (The Barber of Seville) at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Hankey has appeared as a guest performer with the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artists and in recital with Brian Zeger at the Napa Valley Festival del Sole, and was featured in the HBO documentary Renée Fleming: A YoungArts MasterClass and on NPR’s From the Top. Recent awards and honors include Opera Index, the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition, and the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music at Juilliard. Past summer programs include the Aspen Music Festival and School, Houston Grand Opera’s Young Artists’ Vocal Academy, and Dolora Zajick’s Institute for Young Dramatic Voices. Hankey is a proud recipient of Juilliard’s Kovner Fellowship.

Megan Mikailovna Samarin, mezzo-soprano, 23
A member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Megan Mikailovna Samarin returns to Houston for seven productions this season, appearing in Eugene Onegin, Rusalka, and world premiere stagings of O Columbia and Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players, besides covering Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Fox in The Little Prince, and Julie Jordan in Carousel. Last summer she made her Glimmerglass Festival debut as Marzia in the American premiere of Vivaldi’s Cato in Utica, after making her Houston Grand Opera debut in The Magic Flute and Sweeney Todd, and covering Dorabella in Così fan tutte and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. Recent highlights also include joining Joyce DiDonato in Cenerentola at Houston Grand Opera’s 60th Anniversary Concert and singing La Marchande in Les Mamelles de Tirésias at Wolf Trap Opera. Samarin earned her Bachelor’s degree at Manhattan School of Music, where she sang Farnace in La Doriclea, Anne in The Mother of Us All, and Vénus in Orphée aux enfers.

Laura Wilde, soprano, 29
Now in her final year of the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Laura Wilde makes multiple appearances at Lyric Opera this season, singing Marianne and covering the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, covering the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro and Hanna in The Merry Widow, and singing Anna in Nabucco. This summer she makes her European debut in the title role of Janácek’s Jenufa with English National Opera. Previously at Lyric Opera, she covered Renée Fleming in Capriccio and the role of Marta in The Passenger, besides appearing in Madama Butterfly and Parsifal. Other training programs include a season as a Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Artist, and three seasons as a Gerdine Young Artist with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, where she is a two-time recipient of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Elihu Hyndman Memorial Award. Wilde was also a 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Semi-Finalist and took third place in the 2011 Palm Beach Opera Competition. Originally from Watertown, South Dakota, she is a graduate of St. Olaf College and Indiana University, where she completed her Master’s in Music.

Sara Tucker Study Grants 1998-2015

Julie Adams, D’Ana Lombard, Sean Michael Plumb, Reginald Smith, Jr.


Benjamin Bliss, Anthony Clark Evans, Patrick Guetti, John Holiday, Amanda Woodbury


Tracy Cox, Anthony Kalil,Will Liverman, Zachary Nelson, Lauren Snouffer


J’nai Bridges, Brandon Cedel, Scott Connor, Mark Diamond, Margaret Mezzacappa


Jennifer Johnson Cano, Ryan Speedo Green, Cecelia Hall, Andrew Stenson, Elizabeth Zharoff

Leah Crocetto, Nathaniel Peake, Nadine Sierra, Rachel Willis-Sørensen

Paul Appleby, Valentina Fleer, Joélle Harvey

Caitlin Lynch, Heidi Melton, Tamara Wilson

Michael Fabiano, Amanda Majeski, Lisette Oropesa, Alek Shrader

Stephen Costello, Ann McMahon Quintero, Trevor Scheunemann

Jordan Bisch, Michael Todd Simpson, Dimitri Pittas

Carolyn Betty, Sarah Coburn, Quinn Kelsey, Laquita Mitchell

Brian Mulligan, Garrett Sorenson, Christian Van Horn

Meredith Arwady, Michael Maniaci, Erin Marie Wall, Kristine Winkler

Jennifer Check, Ian Greenlaw, Jossie Pérez, Barbara Quintiliani

Eric Cutler, Latonia Moore, Celena Nelson Shafer, Joshua Winograde

Galen Scott Bower, Patrick Carfizzi, Theodore Green, Jennifer Welch

Sari Gruber, Mark McCrory, William Andrew Stuckey, Maris Vipulis


Robert M. Jacobson Study Grants 1988-1997

John Autry, Daniel Belcher, Meagan Miller, Charles Reid

Jill Grove, Nicole Heaston, Thomas Studebaker, Gregory Turay

Eric J. Owens, John Packard, Emily Pulley, Laura Tucker

Richard Clement, Christine Goerke, John Packard, Laura Tucker

Kelly Anderson, Margaret Lattimore, Gary Lehman, Janelle Robinson

Janice Chandler, Mary Dunleavy, Derrick Lawrence, Marie Plette

Steven J. Condy, Daniel Smith, Tracey Welborn

Denyce Graves, Camellia Johnson, Mark Oswald, Angela Randell

Michael Forest, Phyllis Pancella, Tichina Vaughn

Jeff Mattsey, Christopher Robertson, LeRoy Villanueva