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.
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.
Elena Galvàn
Soprano Elena Galvàn, a native of Ithaca, New York, will be an Emerging Artist with Virginia Opera in 2014. She was a Studio Artist at Opera Santa Barbara, where she covered Norina in Don Pasquale, and a Studio Artist at Opera Saratoga. Elena recently won an Encouragement Award at the LA District of the MONC Auditions. This fall, Elena performed the roles of Frasquita in Livermore Valley Opera’s Carmen, Rosina in San Francisco Opera Guild’s Opera à la Carte production of The Barber of Seville, and Phyllis in Lamplighters Music Theatre’s Iolanthe. Elena recently completed her Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in May 2013.

Mark Hernandez
Mark Hernandez has been a teaching artist for Opera à la Carte since 2000 and Book to Bravo! since 2009. His professional experience includes over sixty roles, and he has sung with the San Francisco Opera Chorus since 2000. Offstage, Mark is a writer and arts consultant.
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.
Julia Norton Julia has been singing and performing her whole life. She trained in Voice Movement Therapy in 1997 and has had many works performed worldwide and has written for dancers, theatre, circus and music for children’s theatre as well as her own award winning album Lullaby Island Julia has been teaching for 20 years and is mother to a very vocal son.
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.
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.”

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San Francisco Opera Guild

War Memorial Opera House

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