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 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.

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.


Mohammed A. Faris & Family
Ms. Martha Lou Henley, C.M.
The Bruendl Foundation
Pat Charles
Mike & Kathy Gallagher
The Edwina and Paul Heller Memorial Fund, held at Vancouver Foundation
Dr. George Luciuk and Dr. Lidia Schuster
Mrs. Irene McEwen
Ms. Jane McLennan

The Department of Canadian Heritage
Canada Council for the Arts
British Columbia Arts Council
City of Vancouver Cultural Services
The Province of British Columbia
Vancouver Civic Theatres
Metro Vancouver
Showcase Pianos | Fazioli

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.

2019-2020 Program Participants

Irina Medvedeva

Soprano Irina Medvedeva is described as a “flexible, supple, yet powerful soprano” (The Globe and Mail). Performances include the title role in Cunning Little Vixen, Norina, Zerlina, Morgana,La Fée, Le Feu and Florestine in the Canadian premier of Milhaud’s La Mere Coupable. Recording projects include Nina in Victor Herbert’s “Girl in the Spotlight” with the Comic Opera Guild. Irina is the 2018 winner of the Comic Opera Guild’s Harold Hugh Light Opera Competition. Concert performances include soprano soloist in Faure’s Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem and Solemn VespersIrina holds an Artist Diploma from the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music and Bachelor degree from Western University. She is fluent in Russian, Spanish, and English.

Gena van Oosten

Gena van Oosten is very excited to return to the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program for their 2019-20 season. A recent winner of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Western Canada District, Gena is known for her vocal sensitivity, warmth, and musicality. Gena holds a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance from the University of Toronto, where she was a 2018 Concerto Competition winner. Some of her past roles include Eduige in Rodelinda with Opera in Concert, the First Witch in Dido and Aeneas with Theatre of Early Music, the title roles in Rinaldo and Giulio Cesare with Opera McGill, and Thisbe in Vancouver Opera’s production of La Cenerentola.

Daevyd Pepper

Daevyd Pepper, completed his Master of Music in Opera at the University of Toronto Opera School and his BFA in Voice at York University. Daevyd is an alumnus of prestigious opera training programs such as Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, Chautauqua Voice program, Banff Centre’s Opera in the 21st Century, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Calgary’s Emerging Artist Program. His previous opera roles include: Lenski, Male Chorus (The Rape of Lucretia), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), Rodolfo (La Bohème) and Spolet0 (Salome). In February 2017, Daevyd originated the role of Addison Witless in the world’s first zombie opera: Prima Zombie. Daevyd is delighted and honoured to be joining Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program for their 2019-2020 season. You can hear and see him as Gastone in La Traviata as well in Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera.

Nicholas Borg

Nicholas Borg graduated with a Master of Music degree from University of Toronto Opera and a Bachelor of Music degree from McGill University.  Last season Nicholas performed Action in West Side Story for the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, and with the Canadian Opera Company Chorus in Elektra, Cosi fan tutte, and Otello. Prior to that Nicholas performed Marcello in La bohèmefor Opera Muskoka, Pangloss in Candide and Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance for Toronto Operetta Theatre, Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore for Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, and El Dancairo in Carmen for the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra. Nicholas has also appeared as a soloist for the Grand Philharmonic Choir in Kitchener-Waterloo, and the Amabile Choirs and St. Mary’s Choirs in London Ontario.

Andrea Van Pelt

Andrea Van Pelt is a collaborative pianist and vocal coach from Toronto, Ontario. She holds a Masters degree in Collaborative Piano and a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the University of Toronto, and a Masters degree in Piano Performance from McGill University. She is an alumna of the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the Franz-Schubert-Institut, the Toronto Summer Music Festival, the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, Opera NUOVA, and the Accademia Europea dell’Opera. Andrea has performed as a soloist and collaborator in Canada and internationally. She is currently the music director at Oak Hill Academy in Hamilton, Ontario, and works as a vocal coach and accompanist at the University of Toronto.

Stage Director
Amanda Testini

Amanda is a theatre practitioner based on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, and she is so excited to be part of Vancouver Opera’s Young Artist Program. Recent projects include: Love Bomb (‘Justine’/shameless hussy productions), La Cenerentola (assistant director/Vancouver Opera), Pull 8 (director/SpeakEasy Theatre), East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz (choreographer/Theatre Replacement), A Charlie Brown Double Bill (choreographer and ‘Sally Brown’/Carousel Theatre), Three Winters(assistant director/the Cultch), Carmen (choreographer and assistant director/Opera Kelowna), Timon of Athens (choreographer/Bard on the Beach), Onegin (Arts Club and Belfry/assistant choreographer). She is a Jessie award nominee and a graduate of Studio 58.