Lyric Opera news


Press Release posted by Bob Evans

Lyric Opera of Kansas City


2019-2020 Resident Artists


Resident Artist Program, led by

World-Renowned Tenor and Teacher Vinson Cole includes

Soprano Morgan Balfour, Tenor Joseph Leppek,

Bass-Baritone Seungyun Kim and Coach/Accompanist John Livingston

 General Director and CEO Deborah Sandler today announced the selection of the artists for the Resident Artist Program for the 2019-2020 season. They include soprano Morgan Balfour, tenor Joseph Leppek, bass-baritone Seungyun Kim and coach/accompanist John Livingston. Led by Vinson Cole, one of the leading artists of his generation, they will perform in various roles throughout the 2019-2020 season on the main stage at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and the Exploration Series as well as at community outreach and education events. 

 During their residencies, in addition to appearing in mainstage roles, the Resident Artists will work with visiting guest artists and middle and high school students, conductors and directors, participate in master classes, receive career coaching, study leading roles, make musical appearances in the community, and appear in Lyric Opera’s Explorations series, which will focus on intimate gems of the vocal music repertoire. The 2019-20120 Explorations Series will be announced shortly.

 About the Resident Artists

The Resident Artists have completed their post-graduate education and have some professional experience and will have a full-time 8-month contract with the Lyric for one to two years. Complete bios and high res headshots can be found here.

 “We launched the Resident Artist Program in 2016 and it has been an unqualified success,” stated Sandler. “Lyric Opera has joined the ranks of distinguished opera companies in North America who are committed to nurturing the next generation of exceptional artists for opera. Our professional development program involves performance experience and opportunities to work with our field’s leading conductors, directors and principal artists. Our audiences have embraced our Resident Artists and have been touched by their performances. I look forward to another season of productive and engaged experiences.”

 Lyric Opera’s 2019-2020 Resident Artist Program is sponsored by The Estate of Richard Hill, Charter Sponsor of the Resident Artist Program, and Joan Horan.


Soprano Morgan Balfour, originally from Australia, has appeared as Voice of the Dawn in La Rondine with Pocket Opera, soprano soloist in Vivaldi’s Magnificat with the Pacific Choir and Poulenc’s Gloria with Chora Nova throughout the 2018-19 season. She also won the Handel Aria Competition in 2019. Balfour performed with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, with American Bach Soloists for their Summer Festival and performed as a soloist in Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus as well as a chorister in the Glory of Dresden concert. Balfour holds a Master’s degree in Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor’s degree in Music from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

 In the 2019-2020 Lyric Opera season, Morgan Balfour will appear as Mrs. Grady in The Shining, and in our Explorations series.

 Joseph Leppek, tenor, originally from Novi, Michigan, is returning for a second year as a Resident Artist with Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He has performed professionally in productions and concerts across the United States, including Michigan Opera Theatre, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Saratoga, and the Glimmerglass Festival. Last season at Lyric, Leppek appeared in West Side Story on the main stage, and in the Explorations Series productions High Fidelity Opera and Mack the Knife is The Man I Love. He was a 2018 Great Lakes regional finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and second-place winner in the William C. Byrd vocal competition. Leppek holds a Master’s degree in Voice Performance from Rice University and a Bachelor’s degree from DePauw University.

 In the 2019-2020 Lyric Opera season, Leppek will appear as Pedrillo in Abduction from the Seraglio, Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, as Delbert Grady in The Shining, and in our Explorations series.

 Bass-baritone Seungyun Kim, from Cheong-ju, Korea, recently earned a Graduate Diploma from New England Conservatory. He also received a diploma from Conservatorio di Milano (G. Verdi), and both his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees at Seoul National University. Recent roles include Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, the title role in Gianni Schicchi, Gus O’Neill in Later the Same Evening, and Speaker in The Magic Flute. Other previous roles include the title role in Don Pasquale, Colline in La bohème, Leporello and Masetto in Don Giovanni, Business Man in The Little Prince, Barone and Marchese in La traviata, Marullo and Ceprano in Rigoletto, Sacristan in Tosca, and Benoit and Alcindoro in La bohème. In Summer 2018, Kim was a voice fellow at Music Academy of the West, singing the role of Don Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro; in Summer 2019, he was an Apprentice Artist at Santa Fe Opera.

 In the 2019-2020 Lyric Opera season, Kim will appear as the Senator in The Shining, and in our Explorations series.

 John Livingston, Pianist/Coach, studied Piano Performance with Dr. Robert Weirich at UMKC Conservatory, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Music in 2017. Livingston was subsequently accepted into the Master’s program at UMKC and was awarded one of the Opera Accompanying graduate assistantships. He has served as rehearsal pianist for Hänsel und GretelLa voix humaineL’enfant et les sortilègesLa finta giardiniera, and Die Fledermaus. Livingston recently completed his Master’s degree at UMKC, having studied with the 2013 Van Cliburn third prize winner, Sean Chen. Livingston will serve as Pianist/Coach for the Resident Artists.

 About Vinson Cole

American tenor Vinson Cole is internationally recognized as one of the leading artists of his generation. His career has taken him to all the major opera houses across the globe, including The Metropolitan Opera, Opera National de Paris Bastille, Teatro alla Scala Milan, Theatre Royale de la Monnaie, Brussels, Deutsche Oper Berlin, San Francisco Opera, Opera Australia, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Seattle Opera and many more. During his career he had a special affinity for the French Operatic repertoire and was asked to sing Manon at the Opera Comique for the 100th anniversary of the premiere of the opera in Paris. Equally celebrated for his concert appearances, Cole has been a frequent guest of the most prestigious orchestras throughout the world and has collaborated with the great conductors of the era, including Eschenbach, Abbado, Giulini, Maazel, Mehta, Muti, Ozawa, and more. Cole had a close working relationship with the late Herbert von Karajan, who brought him to the Salzburg Festival to sing the Italian Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier – the first of many performances there together. Their collaboration went on to include works such as Verdi’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Mozart’s Requiem and Bruckner’s Te Deum. Many of these were issued on recordings on Deutsche Grammophon.

 Currently a faculty member at the Aspen Music Festival and School, Cole also teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music. He has previously taught at New England Conservatory of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has taught for the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program and he has also worked at Canadian Opera Company, Santa Fe Opera, and Glimmerglass Festival.

 A  native of Kansas City, Cole received his Bachelor’s degree from UMKC before moving on to Curtis to receive an Artist Diploma. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants including the Rockefeller Foundation and National Opera Institute. He won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a William Sullivan Foundation Grant. He has performed on the Harriman-Jewell Series four times and received an honorary doctorate from William Jewell College. Cole has received Mayoral arts awards from Seattle and Kansas City for outstanding individual achievement and commitment to the arts.

 2019-2020 Season at a Glance:


The Abduction from the Seraglio

Wolfgang Mozart, 1782

Sung in German with English subtitles, and English dialogue
Saturday, September 21, 2019      7:30 p.m.

Wednesday September 25, 2019   7:30 p.m.

Friday, September 27, 2019          7:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 29, 2019        2:00 p.m.

Conductor: Michael Christie *
Director: Alison Moritz

Belmonte: Ben Bliss *

Konstanze: Kathryn Lewek

Blonde: Rachele Gilmore

Osmin: Matthew Boehler*
Pedrillo: Joseph Leppek +


La bohème  

Giacomo Puccini, 1896

Sung in Italian with English subtitles

 Saturday, November 9, 2019       7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019  7:30 p.m.

Friday, November 15, 2019         7:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 17, 2019        2:00 p.m.

Conductor: David Charles Abell
Director: Kathleen Smith Belcher

Mimì: Raquel González
Rodolfo : Georgy Vasiliev
Musetta: Sylvia D’Eramo *

Marcello: Timothy Renner *
Colline: Christian Zaremba
Schaunard: Hadleigh Adams*



Lucia di Lammermoor

Gaetano Donizetti, 1835

Sung in Italian with English subtitles

 Saturday, March 7, 2020           7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020      7:30 p.m.

Friday, March 13, 2020             7:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 15, 2020            2:00 p.m.

Conductor: Carlo Montanaro *
Director: Shawna Lucey *

Lucia: Sarah Coburn

Edgardo: Evan LeRoy Johnson *

Enrico: Troy Cook

Raimondo: Adam Lau
Arturo: Joseph Leppek +
Alisa: Kelly Birch @


The Shining

Music by Paul Moravec

Libretto by Mark Campbell
Based on the novel by Stephen King

Sung in English with English subtitles

 Saturday, April 25, 2020            7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020        7:30 p.m.

Friday, May 1, 2020                  7:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 3, 2020                2:00 p.m.

Conductor: Gerard Schwarz *

Director: Eric Simonson

Jack Torrance: Edward Parks

Wendy Torrance : Kelly Kaduce

Dick Hallorann: Aubrey Allicock*

Mark Torrance: Malcolm MacKenzie*

Horace Derwent: Schyler Vargas

Lloyd the Bartender: Roger Honeywell*

Mrs. Massey: Kelly Birch@

Mrs. Grady: Morgan Balfour +

Delbert Grady: Joseph Leppek +

The Senator: Seungyun Kim +

 * Lyric Opera of Kansas City debut
+ Lyric Opera of Kansas City Resident Artist
@ Former Lyric Opera of Kansas City Resident Artist

 About Lyric Opera of Kansas City

Lyric Opera of Kansas City was founded in 1958; it is one of the nation’s premier regional opera companies and brings high quality live operatic performances to the people of the Kansas City area and a five-state region. Repertoire choices encompass original language performances of standard repertory as well as contemporary and American operas. The Company mounts productions that enrich the community it serves, as well as reflect the highest artistic standards of the profession.

Opera lovers can be fans of Lyric Opera of Kansas City on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @kcopera or on Instagram @kcopera.

 Lyric Opera of Kansas City is a member of OPERA America and this season is made possible with funding from Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, and the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation.

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