Guild Teaching Artists

Experienced Faculty that Bring Opera to Life in the Classroom


Caroline Altman
Caroline Altman has been teaching singing, acting, composition and dance for over 20 years throughout the San Francisco, New York and London areas. During her seven-year tenure as San Francisco Opera Guild Director of Education she created the Summer Conservatory, Voices for Social Justice, Creative Opera Workshop and Opera Junior programs, as well as the award-winning Book to Bravo program. Caroline has composed four musicals and one opera for young audiences and two full length pieces. She has been honored with a Shellie Award for Contribution to the Performing Arts, and an SF Bay Area Critics Award for Leading Lady in a Musical, and is a working singer, actor and stage director. She currently teaches in San Francisco Opera Guild’s Book to Bravo! and Summer Conservatory programs.
Jennifer Ashworth Jennifer Ashworth graduated with a BA in Music from UC Berkeley and earned her MM in Vocal Performance from Holy Names University. She sings opera and operetta with local companies such as Berkeley Opera, Festival Opera, San Jose Lyric, Pocket Opera, Oakland Opera and Lamplighters Music Theatre. She is a member of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Chorale and the soprano soloist at the Church of the Advent of Christ the King, San Francisco. Most recently she was seen on the Lamplighter stage in Die Fledermaus, and can be heard on Lamplighter’s recording of Princess Ida in the title role. She has been a teaching artist for San Francisco Opera Guild since 2003 and is co-creator of the Guild’s program for grades K-3, Sing a Story. Jennifer is the co-founder of Presto! Interactive Opera, and for the past seventeen years she has been the director of the MAD Band, an instrumental program for middle school students at the School of the Madeleine, Berkeley. Jennifer teaches in Sing a Story, Opera a la Carte, and Touring Shows.
Michael Belle Michael Belle’s recent credits include lead roles in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Fledermaus, Die Zauberflöte, Ragtime, Yeomen of the Guard, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Grand Duke, Treemonisha, La Cenerentola, Falstaff, The Merry Widow, and The Threepenny Opera, and in 2008 he debuted as a soloist in Porgy and Bess at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Michael currently teaches in San Francisco Opera Guild’s Opera à la Carte program.
Michael Desnoyers Tenor Michael Desnoyers has been a San Francisco Opera Guild Teaching Artist since 2010, having sung Almaviva (The Barber of Seville), Nemorino (The Elixir of Love), Ramiro (La Cenerentola), and Frederic (The Pirates of Penzance) in the Opera à la Carte program. In addition to teaching with Opera à la Carte, Michael frequently appears as a soloist on Bay Area stages, having performed with many regional companies. Michael holds a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Adam Flowers Tenor Adam Flowers has performed principal roles in opera houses throughout North America, Hawaii, and Japan. In July of 2006 he completed a five year Artist-In-Residency for Opera San Jose, performing over 32 roles and participating as a teaching artist in their many educational outreach programs. He has participated in the San Francisco Opera Guild’s Opera à la Carte since 2007 and has also participated in the Guild’s Book to Bravo! and Voices for Social Justice programs. His is currently a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus.
Elena Galvàn
Praised for her “voice [that] shines with a winsome, lyric luster” (Opera News), soprano Elena Galván, is a native of Ithaca, NY. This fall, Elena will be Countess Ceprano, covering the role of Gilda in Rigoletto with Livermore Valley Opera, and Musetta in La bohème with SF Opera’s Opera Guild; Opera à la Carte. Elena performed the role of Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance with Lamplighters Music Theatre. She recently won Second Place in the Lois Alba Aria Competition and last fall won an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She was a Virginia Opera Emerging Artist, and a Studio Artist at Opera Santa Barbara where she covered Norina in Don Pasquale. Last season, Elena performed with the San Antonio Chamber Orchestra and Handel's Messiah with the Napa Valley Chorale and Symphony. Other roles include Frasquita in Bizet's Carmen, Phyllis in Iolanthe, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Dalinda in Ariodante, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, and Nannetta in Falstaff. Elena holds degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Ithaca College. She studies with Catherine Cook.
Charlea Lyn Grieco Soprano Charlea Lyn Grieco is thrilled to join the roster of teaching artists for the San Francisco Opera Guild this year. A recent graduate from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Charlea Lyn first obtained her BM in Music Education and Performance at SUNY Fredonia. During her studies at SFCM, Charlea Lyn performed the roles of Beth in Little Women, the Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods and Lucy in The Telephone. Charlea Lyn just moved to the Bay Area after spending the summer in San Diego, where she sang Poppea in Agrippina with Opera NEO.  
Mark Hernandez
Mark Hernandez has been a teaching artist for Opera à la Carte since 2000 and Book to Bravo! since 2009. As a professional singer, he has essayed dozens of roles with Northern California companies such as the Mendocino Music Festival, Pocket Opera, Thick Description, West Bay Opera, and West Edge Opera. His writing credits include True Tales from the Mad, Mad, Mad World of Opera, which he co-authored with Lotfi Mansouri. Currently, he is finalizing the libretto for an opera by composer David Garner, commissioned by Opera Parallèle.
Sharon Huff Robinson Sharon Huff Robinson is a professional actor who has been teaching acting to children and adults for more than 20 years. She began teaching after school enrichment programs and summer camps, including musical theatre, for California Theatre Center, where she was a resident performer. After returning from study at the Dell Arte School, she continued to work in theatre and also began teaching in earnest all around the Bay Area and also for the Alaska Theatre of Youth, eventually becoming a high school drama teacher for Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland. Since 2009, she has been teaching residencies in conjunction with her work as a resident artist for San Francisco Shakespeare, and for Word for Word and Marin Theatre Company. She loves to sing, dance, and make funny faces. Sharon teaches in the Book to Bravo! program.
Kristen Jones
Kristen Jones, classical vocalist and performer, has been a teaching artist for the San Francisco Opera Guild since 2002. Her teaching experience includes California Center for the Arts, Escondido/ SUAVE: a Cultural Partnership Program for Teachers, the Bay Area Shakespeare Festival and the living history program at the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association. Kristen performs with several companies around the Bay Area, and is the co-creator of Presto! Interactive Opera, bringing opera into the community.
John-Elliott Kirk
John-Elliott Kirk is a singer (baritone), actor, pianist and voice teacher. He is an adjunct music faculty member at the Urban School, San Francisco. In addition, he has worked extensively with the San Francisco Opera as a member of their Extra Chorus since 2001. 2013 marked his fourth year as Music Director for San Francisco Opera Guildʼs Summer Conservatory. A member of both AGMA and AEA, he has worked locally as an actor with TheatreWorks, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Center REP, San Francisco Symphony and 42nd Street Moon, among other arts organizations.
Billy Lawley Billy began playing piano at the age of 5 and began singing at the age of 15, after which he continued his classical vocal studies at Southern Methodist University. Billy previously was employed as an Elementary Music Instructor in the Dallas Independent School District. His accolades as an educator include Teacher of the Year for the 2009-2010 school year as well as Director of the All City Elementary Honor Choir in Dallas. In addition to teaching, Billy performed in musicals with numerous theaters in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. During the summer of 2006, Billy had the unique opportunity of working at the Barn Theatre in Augusta, Michigan, one of the first professional equity summer stock theaters. Billy is a Board Certified Music Therapist and has experience using music to reach children and adults that have individualized health needs. His work also extends to several artist education organizations, including Big Thought, KD Studio Actor's Conservatory, and the Voices of Change Education Department. Billy teaches in the Book to Bravo! program.
Molly Mahoney Mezzo-soprano Molly Mahoney joins Opera à la Carte again to sing Musetta in La bohème. Molly performs with Bay Area companies such as West Bay Opera, the Lamplighters, Cinnabar, and West Edge Opera. She earned an M.M. in Vocal Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Jessie Neilson Soprano Jessie Neilson is pleased to be joining the San Francisco Opera Guild this season as a Teaching Artist. A native of Michigan, Neilson moved to San Francisco four years ago to further her studies and pursue her carrier as a singer. As a former certified K-12 music teacher Ms. Neilson is excited to get back into the schools with the added bonus of performing. For her performance of Fiordiligi at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2012 she was named “a soprano to watch” by the San Francisco Examiner. Ms. Neilson is also very active both on and off stage with San Francisco’s chapter of Opera on Tap, a nationwide organization devoted to bringing opera to the masses. In 2013 Neilson assistant directed their production of Le Nozze di Figaro and continues to sing in their monthly shows as well as MC. Past rolls include Rosalinde – Die Fledermaus (SFCM), Fiordiligi – Cosi fan Tutte (SFCM), Susannah – Susannah (MSU), Countess Almaviva – Le Nozze di Figaro (MSU), Donna Elvira – Don Giovanni (BASOTI), Vitellia – La Clemenza di Tito (BASOTI).  Neilson is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a M.M. and P.S.D. in Voice. She also holds a B.M. in Music Education from Michigan State University.
Bruce Olstad Bruce Olstad holds the position of chorusmaster for Sacramento Opera, Livermore Valley Opera and West Bay Opera.  He regularly serves as assistant conductor with Livermore Valley Opera, and has held that position with both West Bay Opera and West Edge Opera. Mr. Olstad is music director of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, and is the founder/artistic director of Bodhi Tree Concerts North, which presents concerts and donates 100% of the profits to charity.  As a pianist, Mr. Olstad has partnered in recital with such artists as Kelley O’Connor and Marie Plette, and has played for the master classes of Thomas Hampson and Luana DeVol.  He holds an MM in Keyboard Collaborative Arts from USC. Bruce teaches in the Opera Junior and Book to Bravo! programs.
Michael Orlinsky Michael Orlinsky earned his Undergraduate Degree from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in Music with an emphasis on Vocal Performance. He obtained his Master’s Degree at North Park University, studying under the Vocal Pedagogue Dr. Karen Bauer. He began his outreach career performing in schools for GMA Productions in Las Vegas (2009/2010), and continued it joining Chicago Opera Playhouse (2012-2014). He accepted the role of Educational Director developing opera outreach programs for Main Street Opera in Chicago (2013/2015). Since, he taught music and acting for Casa Italia’s (an Italian Cultural Center) Summer Camp in 2014, and worked as a Teaching Artist with Chicago Opera Theater for the 2013-2014 year. Michael moved to the Bay Area in late 2014 to be closer to family. He currently teaches private voice and piano, and classes with the Village Music Center in Pleasant Hill. Michael has been known to wear many different hats including director, composer, and singer. Michael is an established classical baritone with a career in Las Vegas, Chicago, and a growing career in the Bay Area. Michael teaches in the Voices for Social Justice program.
William O'Neill William O’Neill, bass-baritone, is a Bay Area performer, conductor and director. Opera and musical theater roles include playing Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Falstaff in Verdi’s Falstaff, Angelotti and Sciarrone in Tosca, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, Colline in La Bohème, Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, Masetto in Don Giovanni, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sarastro in Die Zauberflote, Bartolo in le nozze di Figaro, Sam in Trouble in Tahiti, Giove in La Calisto, Tony Esposito in The Most Happy Fella, Frederick Bhaer in Little Women, Mr. Gobineau in The Medium, The Lieutenant in The Yeoman of the Guard, Toad in A Year with Frog and Toad, Neville Craven in The Secret Garden,  and Frederick Egerman in A Little Night Music. William has performed for such ensembles as Opera Colorado, Boston Lyric Opera, West Bay Opera, San Francisco Opera Guild, Lamplighters Music Theater, Berkeley West Edge Opera, Cinnabar Theater, Goat Hall Opera, and Pocket Opera. He also has performed many oratorios and concerts with groups such as Masterworks Chorale, San Jose Symphonic Choir, Livermore Symphony, Symphony Parnassus, and San Francisco Symphonietta. William is also a full time member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus. William teaches in the Opera a la Carte program.
Baker Peeples
Baker Peeples, a versatile tenor, pianist and conductor, is a graduate of Yale University, where he was a member of the renowned Whiffenpoofs. Baker began his association with San Francisco Opera Guild in 1983 as pianist for an in-school preview program of La Traviata. He was subsequently hired as a soloist for Opera-Go-Round, the precursor to the present Opera à la Carte program. In 1989, Baker assumed the role of Music Director, and with his wife Ellen Kerrigan has been responsible for creating 14 opera adaptations for OALC. While now retired from performing as a singer, he continues as Music Director and pianist for the seven adaptations currently in our rotating Opera à la Carte repertoire. In addition, for the past 20 years Baker has created and narrated over 25 opera preview tapes and CDs for classroom and docent use in preparing for both student matinees and OALC.
Chester Pidduck
2013 marks the fourth year Chester has sung with the Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Opera. In 2013 he played a role in the world premiere of Mark Adamo's The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. Chester won a Grammy in 2013 singing in the Metropolitan Opera's Ring Cycle from 2012. In 2011, Chester played the role of Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera San Jose and Opera San Luis Obispo. Chester has sung many roles with San Francisco Opera, was soloist with San Francisco Symphony and St. Louis Symphony. He has also sung with Glimmerglass, Central City, Nashville, Colorado, and Sarasota Operas. Chester teaches in San Francisco Opera Guild’s Opera à la Carte program.
Lindsay Roush
Soprano Lindsay Thompson Roush is based in San Jose. She earned both her BM and MM from Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in vocal performance on a full-merit scholarship. This is her fourth consecutive season working as an artist with San Francisco Opera Guild’s Opera à la Carte program. Lindsay also performs with several companies in the Bay Area, and currently works as a private voice teacher, jazz vocal ensemble instructor, and musical theatre vocal director.
Jason Sarten Jason Sarten has sung throughout the United States with companies including Opera San Jose, Sacramento Opera, Pacific Repertory Opera, West Bay Opera, Berkeley Opera, Lamplighters Music Theatre, Opera Ft. Collins (CO), Long Leaf Opera (NC), Abilene Opera Association, Cinnabar Opera and Livermore Valley Opera. Prior to pursuing a singing career Jason served as Band Director for Albany (TX) ISD. Jason has been a part of San Francisco Opera Guild’s Opera à la Carte for ten years, Creative Opera Works for two years and Sing a Story for one year, and he is also producing the pilot program Opera Junior. Jason holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Abilene Christian University and a Master of Music degree from Baylor University.
Michael Schuler Michael Anthony Schuler, a California native, is pleased to be back in the Bay Area making music again. A Harvard-educated linguist and lifelong pianist, Michael is at home with the mingling of word and music in musical theater. In recent years he has worked as a vocal coach and conductor for numerous productions at various European venues, among them Barbe-bleue and Die Zauberflöte (Zurich Opera) and Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Falstaff (Hanover State Opera). Recent projects include Of Thee I Sing (42nd St. Moon), Pageant (Victoria Theater), Don Pasquale (North Bay Opera), Iolanthe and Pirates of Penzance (Lamplighters), Camelot (SF Playhouse), and Le nozze di Figaro and La Cenerentola (Opera on Tap). Currently he coaches language and music (along with tech) privately and at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Michael teaches in the Opera a la Carte and Book to Bravo programs.
Shawnette Sulker Shawnette Sulker is a regular teaching artist for the San Francisco Opera Guild’s Opera à la Carte program and a strong believer that music should be a part of every child’s education. She has sung opera, concert and recital repertoire all over the world with companies such as the San Francisco Opera, American Bach Soloists, Internationale Opera Producties, Mark Morris Dance Group, Opera Naples, the Gewanhaus in Leipzig, Smetana Hall in Prague, Union Avenue Opera and Natchez Music Festival, to name a few. In addition to her performance activities, Shawnette also teaches private voice lessons.
Michael Taylor Michael Taylor, a director and performer with San Francisco Opera Guild’s Opera à la Carte for 13 years, is a graduate from S. F. Conservatory of Music and has appeared as baritone soloist with San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Opera Center, Opera San Jose, Sacramento Opera, and West Bay Opera, and in concert with the San Francisco Symphony, Masterworks Choral and Berkeley Symphony. He has also been a vocal soloist with the San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose Ballets. A finalist in both the Merola Auditions and the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, Michael was also a member of the cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera in San Francisco. In addition to performing, he is also an active voice teacher and music director. Michael also teaches in the Guild's Book to Bravo! program.
Andy Truett Tenor Andrew Truett is a tenured member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus, and is a strong supporter of opera education. He regularly sings with The San Francisco Opera Guild in a variety of their educational productions, including Opera à la Carte, Sing a Story, The Opera Guild’s Holiday Concert Series and “How Andy Found His Voice.”

Become a volunteer today!

Call us at 415-565-6433 or download the Volunteer Application and mail it to:

San Francisco Opera Guild

War Memorial Opera House

301 Van Ness Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94102