Announcing the singers for the Georg Solti Accademia di Bel Canto masterclasses of summer 2018:


Soprano Wenmeng Gu was born in 1992 in ChengDu, in the People’s Republic of China. She comes from a family of musicians, and began studying singing with her father, who is a tenor. In June 2016 she graduated with a Master’s degree from the Shanghai Conservatory, where she studied with Xuan Huang. During her studies she worked on the roles Pamina Die Zauberflöte, Lauretta Gianni Schicchi, Mimì La bohème, and Contessa Le nozze di Figaro. In 2017 she moved to Italy to continue her studies at the Accademia del Maggio musicale Fiorentino-Opera in Florence. Recent competition successes include: First prize at the selections for the Accademia del Festival Verdi-Teatro Regio in Parma; Third prize at the International Opera Event Salice d’oro; ‘Best Young Singer’ at the International Opera singing competition “Ballano country of the artists”; Special Prize at the International competition Fiorenza Cossotto in Bologna; First Prize at the Teatro Franschini of Pavia for the XXII competition new voices for Opera; Third Prize; and the “Umberto Giordano” Lions Prize in the Andrea Chénier lyric contest for the best interpretation of Giordania’s aria.

Soprano Whitney Morrison, a first-year Ryan Opera Center member and Chicago native, earned her bachelor’s degree in vocal music and pedagogy at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. While a student there she portrayed Miss Pinkerton/Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief and, as a soloist with the university’s Aeolians ensemble, toured to venues throughout America as well as to Moscow. Subsequently she earned a master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music. She has also studied and performed in Germany at the Neil Semer Vocal Institute. Among her other performance credits are an appearance at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, “MLK Expressions,” featuring Tavis Smiley; her debut at Rochester’s Kodak Hall singing Gershwin’s “My Man’s Gone Now” with the Eastman Wind Ensemble; and, in Chicago, Donna Anna/Don Giovanni with the Floating Opera Company. Morrison’s successes in competitions include top prizes in the National Classical Singer University Competition, the R. Nathaniel Dett Club NANM Scholarship Competition, and the Musicians Club of Women Competition. The soprano is also a two-time recipient of the UNCF John Lennon Endowed Scholarship and a former finalist in the Luminarts Classical Music Competition. At Lyric Opera this past season, Morrison debuted as Countess Ceprano/Rigoletto and portrayed Gerhilde/Die Walküre (new production).

Soprano Beatrice Acland graduated with an MA in Opera Performance from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where she studied with Lorna Anderson and Ingrid Surgenor. She recently performed alongside Sir Bryn Terfel and Rebecca Evans in the Liverpool Philharmonic’s production of Falstaff under the baton of Vasily Petrenko. Previous operatic engagements include Elivra (cover, performed) Don Giovanni with the British Youth Opera, Iris in Mid Wales Opera’s Semele, Zhou in The Welsh National Youth Opera’s Kommilitonen! conducted by Alice Farnham, and Alice Ford in RWCMD’s Falstaff conducted by Carlo Rizzi. Beatrice performed Tatyana in the final act of Eugene Onegin with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra at a Christmas opera gala held at RWCMD. She was the soprano soloist at the St Martin-in-the-Fields opera gala in January of this year. Concert work includes solos in Mozart’s Mass in C minor, Haydn’s The Seasons and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. Beatrice sang the role of Pheobe in the world premiere of Arnold’s Henri Christoph in concert at the Malcolm Arnold Festival. She is also the recipient of the EA Redmann prize, a semi finalist at the Somerset Song prize, and was commended in the 2016-17 Mozart Competition.

Australian soprano Alexandra Oomens is in her first year at Royal Academy Opera, under the tutelage of Lillian Watson and Jonathan Papp. Alexandra holds a Masters of Arts (Royal Academy of Music), an honorary Dip RAM for performance (Royal Academy of Music), and a Bachelor of Music (Sydney Conservatorium of Music). In 2017, Alexandra made her European debut as a soloist at the Concertgebouw in the Holland Festival, with Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra and Netherlands Radio Choir. In 2018 Alexandra performed as Laurette in Le docteur Miracle by Bizet (Royal Academy Opera), Tina in Flight by Dove (Royal Academy Opera), and as Clizia in Teseo by Handel (London Handel Festival). Previous roles include Cupidon (Orphée Aux Enfers, Royal Academy Opera), Damigella (L’incoronazione di Poppea, Royal Academy Opera), Isabelle (L’Amant jaloux, Pinchgut Opera), Childerico (Faramondo, Brisbane Baroque), 2nd Lady, 1st Witch, and Spirit (Dido & Aeneas, Brisbane Baroque), Lisel (The Chimney Sweep, Pinchgut Opera), Alinda (Giasone, Pinchgut Opera), and Thisbe (Pyramus and Thisbe, Pinchgut Opera). Alexandra has performed in various Royal Academy Opera Scenes: as Titania (Midsummer Nights Dream); Ännchen (Der Freischütz); Despina (Così fan tutte); Héro (Beatrice et Benedict), and Corinna (Il viaggio a Reims). Alexandra is the current recipient of the Jennie Blythe Scholarship, and the John Baker Opera Award, and is extremely grateful for this generous sponsorship. In 2017 Alexandra was the winner of the Michael Head Song Prize, and is the recipient of the Esther Hubert Award, the Elizabeth Todd Soprano Award, and the Patricia Lucas Scholarship.


Maltese mezzo-soprano Marvic Monreal, born in 1991, is in her second year at the Royal Academy Opera studying with Elizabeth Ritchie and Ingrid Surgenor. Before starting her studies in London, she completed a degree in Tourism Studies at the University of Malta. Marvic spent her summer in Salzburg participating in the Young Singers Project 2017. She debuted with the role of Pisana in the opera I Due Foscari opposite Placido Domingo and tenor Joseph Calleja in the title roles. Recent performances include Joseph Calleja’s annual summer concert in Malta, where Marvic had the opportunity to share the stage with the tenor himself and Sir Bryn Terfel.  She made her Royal Festival Hall debut in Mahler’s 2nd Symphony conducted by Semyon Bychkov, and performed in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Brian Schembri for Europe Day Concert earlier this year. Marvic was a Jerwood Young Artist in Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2016. With Royal Academy Opera she has had the pleasure to perform Bradamante in Handel’s Alcina, Venus in Orphee aux enfers, the role of Mrs. Peachum in Die Dreigroschenoper, and Older Woman in Jonathan Dove’s Flight. She has performed the role of La Principessa from Adriana Lecouvreur. She has also performed the title role of Dido in Dido and Aeneas at the Teatru Manoel, Malta.  Marvic will be singing her Carmen in La Tragédie de Carmen, which is her last role with the Royal Academy Opera, before continuing her studies at the National Opera Studio in the coming year.

Bronwyn Douglass is an exciting young mezzo-soprano from Australia. She graduated with a Masters in Operatic Performance from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in 2014, also receiving an award for academic excellence and the Wagner Society in Queensland Encouragement Award. She attended the Lisa Gasteen National Opera School from 2013-2015 and the Mediterranean Opera Summer Program held in Caltagirone, Sicily in 2014. Bronwyn has performed the roles of Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia for Co-Opera (2018), Olga in Eugene Onegin for Co-Opera (2017), Suzuki in Madama Butterfly for Opera Projects, Sydney (2016), Flora in La traviata for Opera New England (2016); Miss Baggot in Benjamin Britten’s The Little Sweep for the Australian Festival of Chamber Music (2015); and Second Witch in Dido and Aeneas for the Brisbane Baroque Festival (2015). On the concert platform she has performed Five Tudor Portraits with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs (2017) and Handel’s Messiah with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (2015 & 2016) and the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic (2016). Bronwyn has received many awards, grants and scholarships. She is currently one of three finalist in the Opera Foundation for young Australians Deutsche Oper Berlin Award, to be announced in September 2018. In 2017 she was the recipient of both the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award and the Opera Foundation for young Australians Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship. Bronwyn was also the proud recipient of the Amelia Joscelyne Memorial Scholarship with the Melba Opera Trust for 2016 and 2017.

Mezzo-soprano Hannah Poulsom is the recipient of the Stroma Sutherland Award at the Royal Academy of Music, where she is currently in her second year with Royal Academy Opera, studying with Nuccia Focile, Raymond Connell and Jonathan Papp. Prior to joining RAO, she received a Masters with Distinction from the Academy. Her recent operatic performances with RAO include; Carmen (La Tragédie de Carmen- Peter Brook), Minskwoman (Flight – Dove), Frau Peachum (Die Dreigroschenoper – Weill), Junon (Orphée aux Enfers – Offenbach) performed at Hackney Empire, and Bradamante (Alcina – Handel). In the autumn of 2017, Hannah created the role of Verily Romily for Surrey Opera’s world premiere tour of The Life to Come, based on the E.M. Forster story of the same title, by Louis Mander and with libretto by Stephen Fry. Her recent and future concert repertoire comprises Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, Verdi’s Requiem at Guildford Cathedral, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and a concert performance of Handel’s Teseo, in which she enjoyed exploring the role of Medea, with the London Handel Festival, under the baton of David Bates. Hannah is also a recipient of the Alice Gamble Award, and is sponsored by the Josephine Baker Trust and gratefully acknowledges its support.


After graduating as an architect in 2009, Indonesian tenor Satriya Krisna began his studies at the Conservatory of Amsterdam in 2012. He obtained his BA in 2015, and completed his Masters’ under the tutelage of Henny Yana Diemer and Jan-Paul Grijpink. He sang his first role in 2013 as Sporting Life in Porgy and Bess with Studio 32, with the Gelders Orkest and Phillips Symphony Orchestra in the Grachtenfestival 2013, and at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam with the Philips Symphony Orchestra in 2014. His first professional role was as cover Moenen in Opera2day Mariken in de tuin der Lusten by Calliope Tsoupaki (2015). He then began working at Dutch National Opera as part of the “young opera talent” chorus, covering Lurcanio and Odoardo in Handel’s Ariodante. In April 2017 he won Third Prize, the Audience Prize and the Student Jury’s Prize at the International Student Lied Duo Competition 2017 with duo pianist, Felix Justin. In the summer 2017, Satriya got a scholarship to attend the Verbier Festival Academy 2017, where he performed Klave in Salome under direction of Charles Dutoit and Triquet in Eugene Onegin under the direction of Stanislav Kochanovsky, and engaged in the Lied programme with tutors including Thomas Hampson, Thomas Allen and Thomas Quasthoff. Concert engagements have included Mozart Requiem, Bach Cantatas, Dvorak Stabat Mater and Rheinberger Requiem in the Netherlands. Recently in September 2017, he was the semi-finalist of the 51st International Voice Competition ‘s-Hertogenbosh, has won the Judges Discretionary Prize of the Fulham Opera’s Robert Presley Memorial Verdi Prize 2017 and received a bursary award from the Opera Awards Foundation. Satriya is currently a member of the National Opera Studio’s Young Artists’ 2017/2018 programme.

Luis Aguilar | Mexico
Tenor Luis Aguilar Regalado is a native from Torreon, Mexico, praised in Mexico’s leading opera magazine, ProOpera as a “rising and refined tenor with great musicality”. Recent performances include his debut as Ferrando at Yale’s Opera production of Così fan tutte; in 2016 he made his debut as Count Almaviva in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviiglia with Opera de Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico. He can be seen in 2018 as Tamino in the new Yale Opera production of Die Zauberflöte, as well as the title role in a concert version of Bernstein’s Candide with Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra. Since his debut in 2013 as Nemorino at Centro Cultural Ollin Yolitzli, Mr. Aguilar has performed many roles including: Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Belfiore in Mozart’s Finta giardiniera and Ernesto in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale with Oberlin in Italy, Florville in Rossini’s in Il Signor Bruschino, Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff and Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. With Yale Opera he has performed as Gennaro in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia, Father Grenville in Heggie’s Dead Man Walking as well as Tanzmeister in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. Recently he expanded his concert repertoire performing Stravinsky’s ballet/opera Renard with New England Orchestra and was soloist in Bach’s Magnificat and Mozart’s Requiem. Mr. Aguilar was a finalist in the Giulio Gari Foundation competition in 2017. Mr. Aguilar holds a Bachelor in Music, Magna Cum Laude from the Hartt School of Music and he currently at the Yale School of Music as a part of Yale Opera pursuing his Masters degree.


Bass-baritone Alan Higgs is rapidly making a name for himself in the world of opera.  He is a 2016 Sullivan Foundation Award winner, a recipient of the 2018 American Opera Society of Chicago Scholarship, and was a semi-finalist in the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. He is currently in his second year as the resident bass-baritone for the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. This season he will perform the roles of The King in Cendrillon and the Bass Trojan in Idomeneo. He will also cover the roles of Pandolfe in Cendrillon, Benoit and Alcindoro in La bohème, Dottore Grenvil in La traviata, Neptune in Idomeneo, and the King in Ariodante. In the 2017-2018 season at the Lyric he was seen in the roles of Ceprano in Rigoletto and Gaultiero Walton in I puritani and covered the roles of Monterone in Rigoletto, Nourobad in Pearl Fishers, the Mandarin in Turandot and Giorgio in I puritani. In the summer of 2016 he made his debut with Santa Fe Opera as an Apprentice Artist for their 60th anniversary season where he performed the role of Jose Castro in La fanciulla del West and covered roles in Vanessa and Capriccio. He is a 2016 Encouragement Award winner at the Regionals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and the winner of the Katharine Mayer Award for his outstanding performance as a Santa Fe Opera Apprentice. Other engagements include the British Major in Silent Night and Gregorio in Roméo et Juliette with Atlanta Opera, Raphael in Haydn’s Creation with the Georgia State Symphony Orchestra, as well as Alidoro in the Atlanta Opera Studio tour of La Cenerentola. For the 2016-2017 season he was a Studio Artist with the Atlanta Opera where he covered Don Pasquale in the main stage production and performing the title role in the Student Short. Other roles with the company include: The Imperial Commissioner in Madama Butterfly, Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Benoît / Alcindoro in La bohème. Mr. Higgs attended Florida State University for his master’s degree in voice performance, where he performed Simone in Gianni Schicchi, Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin, and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte. While singing Rucker Lattimore in Cold Sassy Tree, he had the honor of working with composer Carlisle Floyd. During his undergraduate studies at the University of Florida/New World School of the Arts, his roles included Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, the Husband in Amelia Goes to the Ball, and Kecal in the Bartered Bride.

Indian baritone Darwin Prakash is currently studying with the Royal Academy Opera. He initially trained under Dr. Robert Alderson in Manchester after being discovered in Delhi in 2014. He studied for an MA in performance at the Royal Academy of Music on a full scholarship in 2015, eventually graduating with Distinction in June 2017. Darwin studies under the tutelage of Prof. Mark Wildman. On the Masters course he was coached by Audrey Hyland, and since joining RAO he is being coached by Ingrid Surgenor. He is kindly supported by a Sainsbury Award, the Philip Hattey Award, the Royal Academy of Music, the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation and the Josephine Baker Trust. Performance highlights include Escamillo in RAO’s production of La tragedie de Carmen in 2018; RAO debut in 2017 performing the role of Masetto and Opera Holland Park debut in 2017 as a Young Artist performing the role of Leporello from Mozart’s Don Giovanni; Geronimo in Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto at Royal Opera House Mumbai; Immigration Officer in RAO’s production of Dove’s Flight; Sacerdote in Handel’s Teseo at London Handel Festival 2018; and Songs of War recital at St. James church, Piccadilly. Darwin was the recipient of the inaugural Gus Christie Award in 2016 at Glyndebourne and was recently awarded Second Prize in Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks Award at Royal Academy of Music. This summer he will be covering the Role of Lysander in British Youth Opera’s production of The Enchanted Island.

Chinese baritone Chunlai Shang is studying for a Masters Degree in Opera at Peking University Opera Institute. He began his studies at the Music College of Northeast Normal University graduating with the highest mark in the department. Since enrolling at Peking University his teachers have included Jin Man and, more recently, the Chinese baritone Li Yang. Opera roles include the Count in Le nozze di Figaro in Chang Chun and Marcello in La bohème at Peking University. In April of this year Shang Chunlai participated in the Young Artists Training Programme at Maryland Opera where he also gave recitals in Washington DC. Competition successes include: bronze in the 7th Chinese Colleges Opera and Arts Song Contest; first prize at the 4th National Vocal Music Competition; and third prize at the 46th Bellini International Vocal Competition. He has performed in numerous recitals both in China and abroad.