With an Opera Philadelphia Residency, students can explore the magic of opera and create meaningful music together.
Spanning over the course of 10 weeks, the Residency Program energizes students around the performing arts – specifically opera – and empowers them to create, design, and perform an original opera of their own.
With a focus on social and emotional learning (SEL), the program allows students to grow in an inclusive environment. Students develop their abilities to understand emotions, show empathy, and maintain positive relationships as they work through an opera with their classmates.
Beyond developing a greater appreciation for the arts, participating teachers have found that the program helps to foster creativity, increase literacy, and enhance critical thinking. Students of the program continue to speak of their experiences today!
“I have seen so much growth in my students as a result of this experience. I continue to reference this program in the work we do in the classroom today. I would highly recommend this program to all schools.”
- Celina Velez, Pan American Charter School
“I have more confidence to speak with my classmates after [Opera]. [Opera] inspires us about being confident about the things we do.”
- Residency Student
D’quan Tyson, Lead Teaching Artist
D’quan Tyson is a freelance performing and teaching artist hailing from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. In 2016, he graduated with his Bachelors of Music; Vocal Performance degree from Ithaca College and has actively been pursuing outlets to express his passion for music both within the opera and commercial realm. Through Opera Philadelphia’s Sounds of Learning program, D’quan has had the opportunity to go into a myriad of classrooms to engage students in the multi-dimensional art form that is opera! While his background is not necessarily in education, he has found it immensely rewarding getting to work with students and seeing their growth and retention from class to class. He is in his second year as a teaching artist and hopes to actively start auditioning and performing with local professional choirs in the near future. He strives to continuously incorporate Andrea Bocelli’s idea that “All this is well worth it because opera offers such deep sensations that they will remain in a heart for a lifetime.”
Evan Kassof, Teaching Artist
Dr. Evan Kassof is an opera maker, composer, and conductor based in Philadelphia. His most recent opera Ganymede 5 (libretto by Aleksandar Hut Kono) premiered in the 2019 Philly Fringe Festival. Elevator, a short chamber opera (Hut Kono libretto), premiered in March as the first episode of the 2019 Serial Opera Project. His children’s opera Colony (libretto by Ruth Mariner and Hut Kono) was premiered by the Royal Opera House’s Youth Opera Company, while Greenland (Hut Kono libretto) was performed in the Barbican Centre, the ROH, and in Budapest. Greenland was most recently revived in 2018 in the Philadelphia Fringe in a production by Philadelphia-based contemporary music theater group ENAensemble, where he is the co-founder and Music Director. He earned is PhD in Music Composition from Temple University in December 2020 with a two-part dissertation titled “Ganymede 5 – the Opera and an Analysis of Kate Soper’s Here be Sirens.”
With a background in physics, Evan’s compositions often use science as source material, collaborating directly with physicists on Heat Death and Turbulence, and using complex mathematical systems to generate temporal and harmonic structures. His recent orchestral works include the flute concerto Blue, written in collaboration with flutist Chelsea Meynig, and Cosmos 5 – Water Music. His recent conducting projects have included the 2019 Serial Opera Project (where ENA premiered six new chamber opera ‘episodes’), a fully-staged production of Pierrot Lunaire, and a serialized musical. As Music Director of the Temple Composers’ Orchestra, a sinfonietta which only premieres new works, he has developed and conducted the premiere of over a dozen new works.
Ameenah Muhammad, Teaching Artist
Hailing from the City of Philadelphia, Ameenah Muhammad is a recent graduate of Lincoln University, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Vocal Performance. Outside of singing, Ameenah has been playing trumpet for the last 10 years. Ameenah Muhammad has recently been an Apprentice Teaching Artist with Opera Philadelphia, and is excited to continue her time with the organization.
CodyRay Caho, Teaching Artist
Curiosity in our world's stories lies at the heart of performance artist, CodyRay's (they/she) work. Her collaborations with organizations like Aural Compass Projects, Wear Yellow Proudly, Bard College, Cincinnati Opera, and Arizona Opera have highlighted the importance of working toward equity and creative joy in herself and surrounding communities.
Recently they have collaborated with pianist, Michael Lewis, and soprano, Chelsea Fingal DeSouza in their self-produced recital, Before Body Meets Earth: a storytelling recital that embodies, through music new and old, two people's struggle to connect and their search for the empathy needed to do so. For this project, the Before Body Meets Earth team was proud to partner with the Newburgh LGBTQ Center to raise money for the Queer Relief Fund - a fundraiser developed to relieve financial strain in the Hudson Valley's queer communities.
CodyRay has also been seen on stage with American mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and pianist Craig Terry on a program of American music entitled “Sing Bard!” In 2019, they premiered Francine Trester's chamber opera, Keepers of the Light, at the Nahant Music Festival in Nahant, Massachusetts, and in the summer of 2018, they appeared in the ensemble of the US premiere of Another Brick in the Wall with Cincinnati Opera - an operatic adaptation of Pink Floyd’s heralded album/later-turned movie, The Wall.
As a lover of new music, she has premiered songs composed by partner and collaborator, Michael Lewis, on many occasions included their second self-produced recital, Living Scars: Songs of Trauma and Healing - a working recital whose purpose is to discuss and reflect cycles of trauma and healing in our personal lives through song and spoken word in collaboration with La Frontera - local Phoenix suicide prevention center - and Master Addiction and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Amy Morris.