The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Feb 26, 2013

Florida Grand Opera’s Recent Run Showcases Young Artist Program

Posted by Valerie Nahmad

By Stefanie Hew, Florida Grand Opera

It is said that a teacher’s proudest moment is to see a student achieve. In the same way, Florida Grand Opera (FGO) takes special pride in the highly successful productions of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Bellini’s La sonnambula, which showcased graduates of the company’s acclaimed Young Artist studio in leading roles.

Lacy Sauter, Carla Jablonski, Cynthia Cook, Jonathan Michie - FGO Magic Flute 2013. Photo by Gaston de Cardenas

Since 1984, FGO’s Young Artist Studio has gained worldwide recognition as one of the leading operatic training programs in the United States. The program aims to provide promising young singers, as well as coaches and accompanists, with an opportunity to refine the skills needed for a successful career in opera. Judging by the outstanding reviews for both The Magic Flute and La sonnambula, the program has done its job.

The Magic Flute featured two bright, former Young Artists – tenor Andrew Bidlack in the role of Tamino and baritone Jonathan G. Michie as his comical sidekick Papageno.  Last at FGO in 2011 for Don Giovanni, Bidlack put his boyish good looks and smooth tenor voice to good use as the young prince, receiving praises from Edge Miami for “a beauty of tone not often found in Mozart tenors” that was also “rich, yet light and just what I wanted to hear,” according to Operagasm blog. Michie, a South Florida favorite, was accused, by critics and spectators alike, of stealing the show. South Florida Theater On Stage hailed, “he’s so funny that it’s easy to overlook that his full-bodied baritone is perfectly able to deliver the demands of the music.”

With a tough act to follow in The Magic Flute, La sonnambula stepped up to the challenge with two strong leads derived from FGO’s Young Artist Program. Soprano Rachele Gilmore took on the challenging bel canto lead of Amina. Known for her silver timbre and a Metropolitan Opera debut that went viral on YouTube, the young coloratura soprano gave a show-stopping performance that was called “florid vocal embroidery” by South Florida Classical Review. Alongside her was fellow Young Artist alumnus Tom Corbeil as the mysterious Count Rodolfo, who was noted for having a commanding stage presence and “a gleaming edge to [his voice],” according to South Florida Classical Review.

Not only are these former Young Artists shining on stage. They are also working side-by-side with a current class of Young Artists, who share the stage with them in supporting roles. “It’s been a privilege to work with Jonathan Michie and Andrew Bidlack,” said Matthew Maness, a 2012-2013 Young Artist.

“I had seen them perform when they were Young Artists and been able to see their voices refine, like aging wine. It goes to show with perseverance, dedication, and opportunities to grow - like participating in the Young Artist Program - one can have a career to look forward to and be proud of.”

For more information on Florida Grand Opera’s Young Artist Studio, please contact Artistic Administrator Cassidy Fitzpatrick at To sponsor a Young Artist or give to the program, please contact Director of Development Amy Funk at or visit our website at

Sonanbula_201 - Rachele Gilmore - La sonnambula FGO 2013 - Photo by Gaston de Cardenas

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