Meet Our Young Artists

Tulsa Opera is excited to announce its selections for the 2017-18 Tulsa Opera Young Artist Program, led by Artistic Director Tobias Picker. More than 200 opera singers applied and less than half received an invitation to audition. Watch these stars rise at Tulsa Opera!

Ksenia PopovaKsenia Popova, a striking artist who possesses “a soaring, powdered-sugar soprano voice with a gritty underside,” according to a review in The News Tribune, brings a wide range of contemporary opera performances and versatility to her new role as a Tulsa Opera Young Artist. “She’s a magnificent actress. We knew immediately she could sing all kinds of stuff,” says Aaron Beck, Director of Education and Outreach at Tulsa Opera.

The talented soprano will cover the roles of Marguerite in Tulsa Opera’s production of Faust in October, and Liu in the production of Turandot in April. She also performs as a soloist with Tulsa’s Signature Symphony, performing Katy Perry’s “Firework” for The Stars Align Gala in February.

Ksenia comes to Tulsa after a successful season at Opera San Jose, where she performed in Lucia di Lammermoor (as Lucia) and Il Barbiere di Siviglia (as Berta), as well as singing the role of Madeleine in Silent Night. In Seattle, she performed the title roles of Donna Anna in Pacific Northwest Opera’s production of Don Giovanni, and as Josephine in Opera Coeur d’Alene’s summer concert of H.M.S. Pinafore. She’s also performed with Tacoma Opera and Skagit Opera, and is a Metropolitan Opera National Council regional winner.


John David NevergallJohn David Nevergall, a tenor with a commanding stage presence, was hired on the spot as a Tulsa Young Artist after Artistic Director Tobias Picker heard him sing. John David will lend his light, airy and flexible voice capable of navigating roller coaster scales and, on occasion, super high notes to cover the title roles of Gounod’s Faust, as well as the role of Calàf in Puccini’s Turandot.

Following his professional debut in Opera Columbus’ award-winning 2012 production of La Bohème, John David has performed leading and comprimario roles with numerous professional companies, including Rodolfo (La Bohème, Opera Columbus, 2012), Motorcycle Cop (Dead Man Walking, Central City Opera, 2014), Sam (The Ballad of Baby Doe, Central City Opera, 2016), Prunier (La Rondine, Cleveland Opera Theater, 2014), Goro (Madama Butterfly, Opera Columbus, 2013), and Remendado (Carmen, Opera Nevada, 2013).

A scholar first and performer later, John David completed a Bachelor’s Degree from Valparaiso University in 2008 and began graduate studies in historical musicology at The Ohio State University. He changed his focus midstream on the advice of OSU voice faculty, and completed his Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance in 2011.


Michael GraccoMichael Gracco, a sonorous baritone of impressive lyricism, is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music. As a Tulsa Young Artist, the Canadian resident will sing the role of Wagner in Tulsa Opera’s production of Faust in October, as well as filling a role in the April production of Turandot.

“He has a lyrical baritone voice. He controls his voice very, very well,” says Aaron Beck, Director of Education and Outreach at Tulsa Opera. “When you hear him sing, you never worry about whether the notes are going to come out. He makes you feel very confident that he will rise to the occasion.”

Listed as a Barihunk, Michael was a finalist in the Metropolitan National Opera Council auditions, Eastern division (2015, 2016) and received the De Lacamera award (2013) for the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, Connecticut division. At Opera Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., he performed the roles of Forrester in Cunning Little Vixen, Ford (cover) in Falstaff, and Dick and Reporter 1 in The Cradle Will Rock. At Opera NUOVA in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Michael performed the roles of Escamillo in Carmen, Pandolfe in Cendrillon and Leporello in Don Giovanni.


Hidenori “Hēday” InoueHidenori “Hēday” Inoue earned acclaim as “the smoky-voiced bass” by the New York Times and “assertive” by Opera News for his performance of Le Monstre Cathos in Persèe et Androméde for the Manhattan School of Music Mainstage Opera – a performance listed in the New York Times as one of the year’s Top 10 Vocal performances of 2016.

Hēday, a 2017 Manhattan School of Music graduate, has been tapped to perform the important role of Timur in Tulsa Opera’s production of Turandot in April, and he will cover the role of Méphistophélès in the October production of Faust in his new role as a Tulsa Young Artist. “He has a voice and a half,” says Aaron Beck, Director of Education and Outreach at Tulsa Opera. “He absolutely stunned us at his audition.”

A recipient of the Manhattan School of Music’s President’s Award, Hēday has sang with the New Amsterdam Opera in New York City, with La Musica Lirica in Italy, and with International Vocal Arts Institute in New York. Originally from Himeji, Japan, Hēday earned a law degree in 2010 from Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. He’s also known for his work as a director on Jam Films 2 (2004), Shiren to Ragi (2013) and Bara to Samurai (2011), as well as his TV acting debut as a Yakuza Guard in the Netflix series, Daredevil, in Season 2.


Dr. Bryan KwonDr. Bryan Kwon, a collaborative pianist, choral conductor, opera coach and singer, joins Tulsa Opera as Pianist/Opera Coach for its 2017-2018 season. His extensive educational background in teaching and coaching singers, pianists and accompanists will serve him well as he works with the Young Artist singers individually, attending rehearsals and accompanying, as well as conducting backstage choruses and keyboard instruments in the pit during performances. “He will be the busiest of them all,” says Aaron Beck, Director of Education and Outreach at Tulsa Opera.

A Korean native and New York City resident, Dr. Kwon is an adjunct faculty member of New Jersey City University, serving as Pianist/Opera Coach. He’s also worked at New York University, St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church, and the AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts in New York City, as well as JCC Thurnauer School of Music in New Jersey. He earned his Master’s Degree in Music/Vocal Accompanying from the University of Cincinnati, and his Doctorate’s Degree in Musical Arts/Vocal Coach & Accompanying from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Kwon also has performed in The Medium and Impresario at NYU Opera, Happy Prince at the Kentucky Opera, and How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at the Krannert Music Center. He performed as a collaborative pianist at the Opera Festival at Lucca in Italy.