Students of 2021-2023
Polish soprano Agata Kowalik is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp under Gary Jankowski. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Scotland, where she studied with Elizabeth McCormack.
As a member of the Chamber Ensemble of the Royal Conservatory of Scotland, she participated in collaborations with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Scottish Opera. Agata was also choir member for Opera Ballet Vlaanderen in productions such as C(H)OEURS 2022 and Ein deutsches Requiem.
In the summer of 2022, Agata took part in the Lute Song Mastercourse in Schwäbisch Gmünd where she was given the Hans Judenkönig Prize.
Agata’s latest project was a tour around Latvia, performing with the newly formed Ensemble Scalda with whom she premiered a work by Latvian composer Marita Semjonova.
Since October 2022, she studies at the International Opera Academy in Gent. This season, Agata performs with her fellow students in The Rape of Lucretia and A Brief Draft of Human Desires, both coproductions with Opera Ballet Vlaanderen.
Originally from Wisconsin, USA, Anthony Capparelli is a pianist-repetiteur in training at the International Opera Academy in Ghent, Belgium. Previously, he was an instructor and collaborative pianist at Clarke University in Dubuque, IA. He is a current Doctoral candidate in piano performance and pedagogy at the University of Iowa where he earned his Masters of Arts in piano performance, both under the tutelage of Dr. Ksenia Nosikova. His other principal teachers have been Jane Coop and Marc Durand at the Centre d’Arts Orford in Quebec, Canada and Dr. Catherine Kautsky at Lawrence University, where he earned his Bachelors of Music degree in 2014.
Anthony has pursued an eclectic array of musical endeavours thus far in his career. He has studied organ and harpsichord, traveling to France in 2013 where he worked in masterclass with organists such as Jean-Baptiste Robin and Christophe Mantoux on period instruments in the cathedrals of Paris, Versailles, and Rouen. In 2014, he was named a Thomas J. Watson Fellow. (The Watson Fellowship is a competitive scholarship given to forty-some college graduates from selected colleges and universities around the United States each year.) His Watson project sent him abroad for a year to Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland to pursue ethnographic research into Celtic and Scandinavian traditional music and storytelling to document the positive effect these art forms have on rural communities.
Anthony is also an active collaborator and chamber musician. With a deep love for the operatic and art song repertoire, Anthony has long been an avid collaborator with singers. He was on staff at Lawrence University as a staff pianist for the voice studio of John T. Gates in 2016, and he has a secondary specialisation in vocal coaching in his doctoral studies at the University of Iowa. He has studied in masterclasses with Dale Duesing, Lawrence Brownlee, Eric Owens, and with members of the Lorelei Ensemble and Roomful of Teeth. As a chamber musician, he has toured across the Midwestern area of the USA and also in Ireland and the UK. Anthony has had regular coachings with prominent ensembles such as the Elias String Quartet, Kronos Quartet, the JACK quartet, and with pianists Orion Weiss and Emanuel Ax.
As a soloist he has performed recitals in six countries, and in concert with the Kenwood Symphony Orchestra, the St. Croix Valley Symphony Orchestra, and the Minnesota Orchestra. He is passionate about bringing classical music to audiences that have limited access to it, and has taught piano and performed recitals in small rural pubs, hospitals, senior care homes, and prisons.
Turkish soprano Ecem Topcu made her Belgian debut this season as Mädchen in Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (K. Weill, director: Ivo Van Hove) at Opera Ballet Vlaanderen. She was a soloist in the Winter Concert – Mozart Viva la Libertà! at BOZAR conducted by Karin Hendrickson (2022). Currently, she performs Female Choir in The Rape of Lucretia (B. Britten, a coproduction of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen and IOA, director: Carlos Wagner). Upcoming performances (2023) include: Rosina in De Barbier (after G. Rossini, director: Tom Goossens, Deschonecompagnie), and Gilda in Rigoletto at the Grand National Theatre of Peru.
Having obtained her bachelor’s degree in classical singing from Ankara State Conservatory with greatest distinction, Ecem made her professional debut in 2018 as Arsena in Der Zigeunerbaron (J. Strauss) at Samsun State Opera and Ballet. In 2019, she sang Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (W.A. Mozart), also in Samsun (Turkey).
Japanese soprano Eriko Hashimoto is equally at home on the opera stage as she is on the recital platform. She made her opera debut as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (W.A. Mozart) at the Teatro Carcano in Milan, directed by Giuseppe Montesano and Mattia Testi (2019). Later that year, she sang the soprano solo in W.A. Mozart’s Krönungsmesse, directed by Amedeo Monetti. In 2021 she was Cendrillon in P. Viardot’s Cendrillon, directed by Teresa Gargano at the Teatro Coccia in Novara and at Fortezza del priamar in Savona. Currently, Eriko sings Lucia in B. Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, a coproduction of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen and the IOA (director: Carlos Wagner).
Eriko graduated from the College of Music Kunitachi (Japan) in 2014. She obtained her Master’s degree with highest distinction from the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan in 2020. In 2021, Eriko joined the AMO academy (Operastudio of Teatro Coccia in Novara). Since October 2021, Eriko is a member of the International Opera Academy in Ghent, Belgium.
Slovenian soprano Ernestina Jošt studied at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana, where she completed her master’s degree with Theresa Plut. In 2020 she sang the role of the Mother in the youth opera Všeč si mi by Slovenian composer Damijan Močnik with Glasbena matica in Ljubljana. In 2021 she sang the role of Cunegonde in Candide (L. Bernstein) with the Slovenian Chamber Music Theatre.
She performed W.A. Mozart’s Mass in C-major with the Academic choir and chamber orchestra of St. Cecilia (2017) and A. Vivaldi’s Gloria in D-major with the baroque orchestra of the Academy of Music Ljubljana and mixed choir (2018). Together with the Carmen Manet choir and the Slovenian Philharmonic chamber orchestra, she performed Magnificat written by Kim André Arnesen (2019).
She won the first prize at the International Music Competition Maribor (Slovenia) 2020. Ernestina has attended masterclasses by a.o. Charlotte Lehman, Martin Vacha, Marvin Keenze, Hans Adolfsen, Kate Royal and Martin Wölfel.
Since October 2022, Ernestina studies at the International Opera Academy in Ghent, Belgium.
Jessica Stakenburg is a versatile Dutch alto/mezzo-soprano with a huge love for opera.
As a child, she performed at the Youth Theatre School in Dordrecht, where she discovered her love for singing. At the age of twelve she encountered the classical repertoire; from then on, a new love was born.
Following high school, she attended the Theatre School in Rotterdam, where she obtained her acting diploma. Later, she completed her Bachelor in Classical Music Theatre and Master of Music degrees at the conservatory in Tilburg.
Lately Jessica has been taking singing lessons with Xenia Meijer, Harry Ruijl, Miranda van Kralingen, Sasja Hunnego and Wilma Bierens. Moreover, Jessica has had the opportunity to work with directors and actors such as Marc Krone, Brigitte Odett, Alexandra van Marken, Vincent van den Elshout, Jeroen Lopes Cardoza, Isabel Schröder and Karin Netten. In addition, Jessica has participated in several masterclasses by renowned opera singers, coaches, conductors and directors, such as Miranda van Kralingen, Frank van Laecke, Ed Spanjaard, Axel Mendrok, Daniël van Klaveren and Wiebke Göetjes.
In 2020 she participated in the Performing Opera Summer School in Amsterdam, and sung at the Cannal Festival and at the Dutch national radio station for classical music. In 2021 she took part in the production La serva Padrona (Pergolesi) during the Opera Buffa Summer School in Dordrecht and became a member of Music theatre Hollands Diep in Dordrecht.
As a soloist she sang in several operas during the Opera Forward Festival of the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam.
She sung roles such as Dritte Dame and Dritte Knabe in Die Zauberflöte (Mozart); Dinah in the short opera Trouble in Tahiti (Bernstein); Uberto in La serva Padrona (Pergolesi); Petite Messe Sollennelle (Rossini); Stabat Mater (Pergolesi) and concerts with opera highlights.
Jessica worked as a freelancer in the choir of Opera Ballet Flanders, and did an internship at the Dutch National Radio Choir. She sang in productions such as Quattro Pezzi Sacri (Verdi); Speak Out (Kate Whitley); Don Carlos (Verdi); Rusalka (Dvorak); Der Schmied von Gent (Schreker) and Choeurs.
At the moment, Jessica is studying at the International Opera Academy of Ghent, where she prepares for a future career as professional opera singer.
South Korean tenor Kwanhee Park performed Rodolfo in (La Bohème, G. Puccini), Tamino (Die Zauberflöte, W.A. Mozart), Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore, G. Donizetti) and Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi, G. Puccini) in South Korea. In Italy, Kwanhee debuted as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi directed by Marco Gandini (2019).
Currently, Kwanhee performs as the Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia (B. Britten, in a coproduction between Opera Ballet Vlaanderen and the IOA). He will join Opera Ballet Vlaanderen as Tenor II in August 2023 and will appear in its future productions, including La clemenza di Tito, Les pêcheurs de perles and Die Fledermaus.
Kwanhee studied at the Conservatory of Music Giuseppe Verdi in Milan, Italy (2018-2021). He also attended the prestigious Advanced Course for Opera Singers of the Luciano Pavarotti-Freni Opera House (2020-2021) in Modena. Since October 2021, Kwanhee studies at the International Opera Academy in Ghent, Belgium.
He participated in masterclasses with a.o. Kate Royal, Alejo Pérez, Roger Vignoles, Leone Magiera, Mariella Devia, Mireia Pintó and Martin Wölfel.
Ukranian mezzo-soprano Oleksandra Kuzmina (1993) currently performs the title role in The Rape of Lucretia (B. Britten), a coproduction of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen and the IOA. She graduated from Kharkiv National University of Arts with a Master’s degree in 2015, where she studied as an opera singer and as a chamber music performer. In 2019 Oleksandra obtained a PhD with a thesis on children’s opera. Immediately after her graduation, Oleksandra was hired as a soloist at the Kharkiv Regional Philharmonic. She was also engaged as a guest singer at the Kharkiv National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre.
Her repertoire includes roles such as Olga (Jevgeni Onegin, P.I. Tchaikovsky), Flora Bervoix (La Traviata, G. Verdi), Hata (The Bartered Bride, B. Smetana), Agata (Le cantatrice villane, V. Fioravanti), Lady Pamela (Fra Diavolo, D. Auber), Mrs. Nolan (The Medium, G.C. Menotti) as well as the alto parts in such works as Requiem by W.A. Mozart, Stabat Mater by A. Dvořak, Magnificat by J.S. Bach, Gloria by A. Vivaldi, 9th Symphony by L. van Beethoven among others. In 2022 Oleksandra received the President of Ukraine Scholarship for young musicians and actors and won the 31st International Singing Competition Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg. Currently she is a student at the International Opera Academy in Ghent, Belgium.
Currently enrolled at the International Opera Studio IOS of Opernhaus Zürich.
French repetiteur and conductor Quentin Mourier took part in productions of Les Huguenots in La Monnaie (Brussels) and Ernani in Opera Ballet Vlaanderen (Antwerp, 2021). Quentin was main conductor at the production of R. Portman’s The Little Prince and the premiere of A. Tsilogiannis’ Verlaine au secret. He was main conductor of the symphonic orchestra of Linkebeek for five years. Quentin was harpsichord player and assistant conductor of the baroque ensemble PasSages.
Graduated from the conservatories of Brussels and Mons in 2017, Quentin then dedicated himself to opera repertoire. He played under the baton of a.o. Julia Jones, Alessandro Palumbo and Emmanuel Trenque and for a masterclass of Angélique Noldus.
He studied as a repetiteur at the International Opera Academy in Gent, where he played for conductor Benjamin Haemhouts and in masterclasses for Roger Vignoles, Alejo Pérez and Dietrich Henschel.
South Korean baritone SoJin Yang represented South Korea at the Virginia Music Festival in 2018. He founded the Student Opera in South Korea, and performed as Belcore in L’elisir d’amore. SoJin made his European debut at the Teatro Campoamor of Ópera de Oviedo (Spain, 2022) where he played Masetto in W.A. Mozart’s Don Giovanni. At the IOA, he sang the roles of Brecht in LoveMusik (K. Weill) and Masetto in Don Giovanni’s Last Supper (after W.A. Mozart). Currently, he plays Tarquinius in Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, a coproduction by Opera Ballet Vlaanderen and the IOA.
SoJin graduated from Kyunghee University College of Music in Seoul under professor Carlo Kang. He has participated in masterclasses given by a.o. A-Kyeong Lee, Muriel Corradini, Charlotte Margiono, Dietrich Henschel, Martin Wölfel, Mireia Pintó, Peter Konwitschny, Alejo Pérez, Kate Royal, and Roger Vignoles. He has also worked with conductors such as Benjamin Haemhouts, Pietro Rizzo, Elena Mitrevska, and directors such as Guy Joosten, Stefaan Degand, Peter Konwitschny, Fanny Gilbert-Collet, and Marta Eguilior.
Originally from Shenzhen, China, Xuan He is a versatile pianist. As a concert soloist and collaborative musician, Xuan has performed in Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, and several U.S. states. She is a medallist of the 2017 Brevard Music Festival Solo Piano Competition, the 2016 Hong Kong International Piano Open Competition, and the 2016 Schubert Club Scholarship Competition. In the seasons 2020 – 2022, Xuan gave lecture series and recitals on modern contemporary music in major venues in China, including the Russian Culture Centre in Beijing and the Shenzhen Library. She also performed with the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra as an orchestral pianist.
Xuan holds a bachelor of music degree from St. Olaf College, Minnesota and a master of music degree from the University of Toronto. Her past teachers include Kent McWilliams, Jan Jiracek von Arnim, and Lydia Wong. Since November 2022, Xuan studies at the International Opera Academy in Ghent, Belgium. She takes regular lessons from Ilja Scheps of the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln.
Mezzo-soprano Yoonjung Kim was born in South Korea in 1995. She graduated as a master at the Kyunghee University in Seoul with professors Carlo Kang and A-Kyeong Lee. Since 2021, Yoonjung studies at the International Opera Academy in Ghent, Belgium.
Yoonjung has taken part in masterclasses by a.o. Wim Henderickx, Pietro Rizzo, Charlotte Margiono, Peter Konwitschny, Hein Boterberg, Martin Wölfel, Kate Royal, Mireia Pintó, Alejo Pérez and Roger Vignoles.
She has worked with conductors including Benjamin Haemhouts and Pietro Rizzo, and directors (a.o. Guy Joosten, Stefaan Degand, Peter Konwitschny and Fanny Gilbert-Collet).
In South Korea, Yoonjung performed Flora in La Traviata (2018) and Zita in Gianni Schicchi (2018). She held her debut concert at Sejong Art Center, hosted by Music Chunchu daily (2018).