Vancouver Opera – Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program

Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program

Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program

Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program

In 2012, VO launched the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program. Made possible through a gift from the family of Yulanda M. Faris, the program engages, enriches, mentors and trains rising young Canadian opera artists and offers a bridge between formal academic educational programs and the professional world in a supportive and encouraging environment.

The program is led by Program Director, Leslie Dala; Principal Coach, Kinza Tyrrell; Coach, Tina Chang and the continued guidance of Vancouver Opera Music Director Emeritus, Jonathan Darlington.

The Young Artists Program provides artists – singers, pianists and stage directors – with the opportunity to train with industry leaders through master classes, one-on-one coachings and performance opportunities as part of a residency program.

Applications are now closed for the 2021–2022 Young Artists Program. 

Thank you to our 2020–2021 Program Sponsors


TD Bank


Dr. George Luciuk
Alan and Gwendoline Pyatt Foundation
Patricia Charles

The Edwina and Paul Heller Memorial Fund,
     held at the Vancouver Foundation
Mrs. Ronnie E. Tessler

Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program Staff

Music Director Emeritus
Jonathan Darlington

Sensitivity for depth and balance and an infectious dynamism are the hallmarks of Jonathan Darlington’s work. As music director of the Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director of Vancouver Opera since 2002, his demand for the highest level of professionalism and precision, infused with genuine enthusiasm, has ever increased the quality and popularity of both orchestras. Born and educated in England, he is fluent in several languages and currently resides in Paris. Maestro Darlington has conducted an impressive array of ensembles in many of the world’s greatest concert halls and opera houses.

Program Director
Leslie Dala

Maestro Leslie Dala is Associate Conductor and Chorus Director of Vancouver Opera, and Music Director of the Vancouver Bach Choir and the Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra. He recently conducted Vancouver Opera productions of Madama Butterfly, Albert Herring, The Magic Flute, and The Marriage of Figaro, as well as the world premieres of  VO-commissioned operas, Stickboy and The Overcoat – a musical tailoring.

Principal Coach
Kinza Tyrrell

Dr. Kinza Tyrrell is Principal Répétiteur, Assistant Conductor, and Assistant Chorus Director at Vancouver Opera, Lyric Diction and Collaborative Piano Professor at the University of Victoria, and guest faculty at the Canadian Opera Company, Opera Kelowna, and Opera Nuova, among many others.  Dr. Tyrrell’s coaching and performing portfolio make her one of Canada’s leading vocal coaches.

Tina Chang

Pianist and Coach, Tina Chang, is currently on the music staff at Vancouver Opera, and most recently at Wexford Festival Opera in Ireland. Based in Vancouver, she has been involved with various musical organizations in town, including Chor Leoni, re:Naissance Opera, Health Arts Society, and Queer Arts Festival. She is currently on faculty at the Vancouver Academy of Music, and is also on the coaching staff at the University of British Columbia. Tina holds a Bachelor of Music degree from University of British Columbia and a Master of Music degree from University of Minnesota.

2020–2021 Program Participants

Singers receive regular coachings with Vancouver Opera’s resident music staff as well as training in diction, movement, acting, stage combat and a variety of other areas in this comprehensive program.

Pianists, under the guidance of the Vancouver Opera music staff, work with YAP singers in regular coachings and may also act as rehearsal pianists for mainstage productions.

Singers and pianists take part in master classes, sessions with international guest coaches as well as participate in seminars on a range of topics from audition techniques to securing an agent.

The program is performance-oriented and there are numerous performance and understudy opportunities throughout the season. Stage Directors work with YAP singers in dramatic coachings and participate in mainstage productions working closely with production stage directors and Vancouver Opera production staff.

Jonelle Sills, Yulanda M Faris Young Artists Program

Jonelle Sills

Toronto soprano Jonelle Sills is a Dora Award winner for outstanding performance of an Ensemble in Vivier’s Kopernikus with Against the Grain Theatre. Jonelle has an Artist Diploma in Voice Performance/Opera from The Glenn Gould School and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, Specialized Honours in Music from York University. Jonelle has recently been named as one of CBC Music’s classical “30 under 30” performers for 2020.

Past highlights include her Canadian tour as Mimì in La Bohème with Against the Grain Theatre. During her residence at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity she premiered the role of Esther in composer Paola Prestini’s and librettist Royce Vavreck’s Silent Light also with Against the Grain Theatre. Other performances include Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, the title roles in Cendrillon and La Cecchina with The Glenn Gould School; Musetta in La Bohème at the Muskoka Opera Festival; Micaëla in Carmen with Summer Opera Lyric Theatre; and Female Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia with MYOpera.  

Jonelle has studied and worked with Stephanie Bogle and Rachel Andrist and performed in masterclasses with Gerald Finley, Liz Upchurch, Adrianne Pieczonka, Tim Noble, Martin Katz, Catherine Robbin, Dawn Upshaw and Joan Dornemann.

Amanda Weatherall, Yulanda M Faris Young Artists Program

Amanda Weatherall

Cranbrook native and mezzo-soprano Amanda Weatherall has a Bachelor of Music Honours in Performance Voice and a Master of Music in Literature and Performance Voice from Western University.   

Amanda has performed in the chorus of Otello with the Canadian Opera Company; the title role in Carmen, Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte, and Meg Page in Falstaff with Western University. Other performances include Tisbe in La Cenerentola with Accademia Europea Dell’Opera, Fox in Cunning Little Vixen, Olga in Eugene Onegin and Romeo in I Capuleti e I Montecchi with Opera Nuova. She has also sung as a soloist with Symphony of the Kootenays and Karen Schuessler Singers. 

Amanda has studied and worked with Laura Tucker, Simone Luti, Todd Wieczorek, Frédérique Vezina, John Hess, and Janelle Scharringa. She has also participated in masterclasses with Liz Upchurch, Judith Forst, Kathleen Kelly, Joan Patenaude-Yarnell, and Richard Margison.

Ian Cleary, Yulanda M Faris Young Artists Program

Ian Cleary

Originally from Chatham, tenor Ian Cleary recently completed an Opera Diploma at the University of British Columbia and has a Bachelor of Music from Wilfred Laurier University.  

Ian has performed Hoffmann in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Armoured Guard in Die Zauberflöte with the UBC Opera Ensemble; Hoffmann in Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Schoolmaster in Cunning Little Vixen with Opera Laurier; Judge Roan in Parade and Giuseppe in The Gondoliers with Opera Nuova. 

He has studied and worked with J. Patrick Raftery, Kimberley Barber, Richard Epp, Leslie Dala, Raffi Armenian, Rosemary Thompson, Nancy Hermiston, Anna Theodosakis, Brian Deedrick and Rob Herriot.

Luka Kawabata, Yulanda M Faris Young Artists Program

Luka Kawabata

Vancouver baritone Luka Kawabata holds a Master of Music in Opera Performance from the University of British Columbia. 

Recent credits include the title role in Don Giovanni, Lieutenant Audebert in Silent Night, Dappertutto and Dr. Miracle in Les Contes d’Hoffmann as well as Tadeusz in the Canadian premiere of Pasażerka with the UBC Opera Ensemble. He has performed roles in the Westben Arts Festival’s La Traviata and the European Music Academy’s La Bohème and Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Luka has been featured in concert performances including St. John’s Passion and as Hobson in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s Peter Grimes. Last season, Luka understudied the role of Owl in Vancouver Opera In Schools’ production of The Flight of the Hummingbird.  

He has studied with Peter Barcza and worked with prominent names including Carol Isaac, David Agler, Bramwell Tovey, Russell Braun, Eric Owens, and Luca Pisaroni.

Amy Seulky Lee

Amy Seulky Lee

Vancouver-based pianist Amy Seulky Lee holds a Master of Music in Collaborative Piano from the University of Toronto, where she studied with Professor Steven Philcox, and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of British Columbia where she studied with Dr. Terence Dawson.

Amy made her debut with the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra in 2010 and has since performed in concerts across Canada, United States, South Korea, and Italy. She served as music director for Summer Opera Lyric Theatre and Malfi Productions and has worked with a number of summer festivals including Toronto Summer Music Festival, Vancouver International Song Institute, Accademia Europea Dell’Opera and Orford Music Festival. 

Amy has participated in masterclasses with notable clinicians including Martin Katz, Soile Isokoski, Warren Jones, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Graham Johnson, Katherine Chi, André Laplante, Alain Lefèvre, Leon Fleisher, Christopher Taylor and Lydia Artymiw.

Dana Fradkin, Yulanda M Faris Young Artists Program

Stage Director
Dana Fradkin

Toronto-based stage director Dana Fradkin is a graduate of the George Brown Theatre School, Second City Conservatory and completed an Opera Director Residency at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.  

She made her opera debut with the Canadian Opera Company’s production of La Bohème as a clown and was also an acrobat in COC’s production of Die Walküre. She was the director for Community Creation and Women Wisdom and Wit with Wilfred Laurier University and revival director or Brundibár with the Canadian Children’s Opera Company.  She was assistant director for Powder her Face with Opera on the Avalon; No One’s Safe with Banff Centre; The Magic Flute and Die Fledermaus with The Glenn Gould School; A Little Too Cozy and Messiah with Against the Grain Theatre.  

Dana is also an award-winning actor, writer, and is co-founder of the Dora Award winning theatre company, Keystone Theatre. She has also written and produced four short films which have toured film festivals around the world.