Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Meet BLO's Teaching Artists

In honor of 
BLO would like to thank all of the teaching artists 
from the 2012/13 season.

Teaching Artists are working artists who engage learners of all ages  by teaching their craft.  In the 2012/13 season, Boston Lyric Opera  has proudly worked with a number of talented Teaching Artists (some of whom appear regularly onstage with us!) who bring opera into the community—particularly with children—to increase exposure and practice of the art form.

These teaching artists are an integral part of most of our community engagement events: workshops at the Boston Public Library, the annual Open House, workshops with Wheelock Family Theatre, and Music! Words! Opera! Classroom visits.  Because of the collaboration with teaching artists, audiences have opportunities to learn and ask questions about opera with real, working opera performers.

Meet BLO's Teaching Artists:

"My favorite moment of the season was 
coaching little kids at the West Roxbury 
library for The Magic Flute tableaux. They were 
so uninhibited and creative—it was a joy to watch!”
Heather Gallagher joined BLO at Boston Public Library workshops and this year’s Wheelock Family Theatre Workshop at the Open House.  She is a recipient of an Encouragement Award from the Licia-Albanese Puccini Foundation (2011), and the 2nd Place Award for Metro West Opera's 2011 Opera Competition. This year Heather was a member of the chorus in BLO’s  widely acclaimed productions of Madama Butterfly and The Flying Dutchman. This month she makes her debut in the title role of Bizet's Carmen with Metrowest Opera. She will return to BLO in the 2013/14 season as a Resident Teaching Artist.  To learn more about Heather’s work, visit

"My favorite thing about working as a teaching
artist is seeing the brilliant smiles on children and
adults of all ages as they sing and as theater 
is brought to life in front of them. BLO bridges the 
gap between the performer and the audience 
through community work."
In addition to singing in the chorus for The Flying Dutchman this season, Vanessa Schukis provided the vocal demonstrations at this year’s Open House and taught Boston Public Library workshops. Ms. Schukis has a multi-faceted career as a character mezzo, actress, stage director, choreographer, vocal coach, educator, and author of two children’s books.  She has sung a wide variety of operatic, oratorio and Broadway repertoire to great critical acclaim.  In addition to being a performer, Vanessa is an award-winning teacher with over thirty years experience in performing arts education focusing on students with learning disabilities and special needs.  Currently Vanessa teaches music through the outreach program of The Community Music Center of Boston. For more information about Ms. Schukis, visit
"My favorite thing about working as a teaching artist
with BLO this season was watching the students grow.
In just two days, a bunch of nervous, excited students
learned and mastered challenging music, took risks, 
and became accomplished performers in their own right.
The look on their faces, with the full knowledge of
what they had achieved, was an absolute thrill."
Brendan Buckley co-taught the 2-Day Opera and Dramatic Performance Workshop for teens with Wheelock Family Theatre this past fall. He is a MA native and is quickly gaining a reputation as a skilled and sought-after performer, recently performing as Howard Boucher in Boston Opera Collaborative’s New England premiere of Dead Man Walking.  He is also a passionate educator, with ten years of experience teaching both adults and children. For more information about Mr. Buckley, visit   

"Teaching for the BLO/WFT Opera Program is a wonderful
opportunity to work with teens who are passionate about
opera, classical music, and musical theatre. In the Gilbert 
and Sullivan workshop they truly embraced the extremes
of character and comedy to be found in operettas."
Grace Napier, an Equity actor, singer, dancer and graduate of MIT, teaches for BLO through Wheelock Family Theatre. She has enjoyed a successful professional acting career throughout the United States and Canada.  Career highlights include touring with Rudolf Nureyev in The King and I, starring opposite Stacy Keach in A Christmas Carol, and performing classic roles like Cinderella,  Julie Jordan, and Yum Yum. Most recently, she directed WFT's acclaimed Story Troupers and an IRNE award-winning 
main stage production of Seussical. 

It is the dedicated and generous work of Teaching Artists, often taking place between auditions, rehearsals, performances, running private music studios, day-jobs, and family-life that make BLO youth education programs a success. We hope you’ll join us at a community engagement event next season, where you might just meet a member of this talented team! 

Throughout the 2012/13 Season, BLO youth education programs have impacted nearly 1,000 students in after-school programs, opera and dramatic workshops, free community events, and in-school outreach. Help BLO continue to share opera with young learners in our community and donate today.


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