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LSU Music Students earn spots as apprentice artists with Des Moines Opera

Ashley Dixon singing in title role in "La tragedie de carmen," LSU Opera, Fall 2012

LSU Music Students earn spots as apprentice artists with Des Moines Opera

Pictured above: Ashley Dixon singing in title role in LSU Opera’s La tragedie de carmen, Fall 2012

Four LSU School of Music students and graduates recently earned and accepted positions as Apprentice Artists at the upcoming Des Moines Metro Opera festival, one of one of the most prestigious young apprentice programs in the country.

Jeff Byrnes (also covering the role of Captain Balstrode in Benjamin’s Britten’s Peter Grimes)
Ashley Dixon
Pedro Willis-Barbosa
Ariana Wehr Harris

All four are or were voice performance majors at LSU and have been featured LSU Opera cast members

“These singers’ acceptance into this prestigious and highly-selective program is a great honor for each of them and, in turn, sheds more favorable light on the quality teaching and student talent so evident in our program and school,” said Dugg McDonough, stage director and artistic director of the LSU Opera.

Dixon, Byrnes, Harris, and Willis-Barbosa were selected by Des Moines Artistic Director Michael Egel for four of 40 slots in the Apprentice Artists Program slots from more than 800 national and even international auditions held in Fall and Winter 2012.

In their time at LSU, these students and graduate earned experience with LSU Opera. Their major professors were Byrnes – Professor Dennis Jesse;  Dixon – Dr. Lori Bade; and Willis-Barbosa – Professor Robert Grayson.

Jeff Byrnes, a spring 2012 graduate, sang featured or leading roles in La Cenerentola, La Bohème, Roméo et Juliette, Vanessa, and other productions. He is currently a graduate student at the College Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati.

Ashley Dixon,  a senior at LSU, sang title role in La Tragédie de Carmen, as well as the title role in La Cenerentola (Cinderella).

A first-year masters student at LSU, Pedro Willis-Barbosa sang the lead role of Philippe in The New Moon in fall 2012.

Ariana Wehr Harris, who sang and acted the leading role of Marianne in the LSU Opera production of The New Moon, was featured in A Little Night Music, performed Zerbinetta in the Prologue to Ariadne auf Naxos. This Spring, Harris will sing the principal role of Melisande in the upcoming Impressions de Pelleas in April, a chamber opera presentation by LSU Opera.

LSU’s McDonough is the Mary Barrett Fruehan Associate Professor of Opera, main stage director at DMMO and formerly served as co-director of the Apprentice Artist Program at the Des Moines Metro Opera.