Opera

Comments from Past Participants

2019

OMG! Have you heard about the Druid City Opera Workshop? I highly recommend it to any young artist! – Ontario Williams, baritone, Augusta University

My heart is full. I never imagined how transformative this program is and the experience has truly inspired me to strive to be a better coach! Thank you to the Druid City Opera Workshop for having me to share my passion to these talented young artists! I had a blast!! I am grateful for the opportunity and great professional mentorship from Professor Amanda Johnston, Dr. Kevin Chance and Dr. Richard Masters. To everyone, a sincere thank you for the memories and welcoming me into the community! – Esme Wong, collaborative pianist intern

Heading home after a magical 10-day journey at the Druid City Opera Workshop in Tuscaloosa. I am nourished with inspiration as I practiced realizing my vision, explored staging with amazing young artists and discussed what it is to be an opera director in the modern day with fellow directors and mentors. My experience as a directing intern was most fulfilling as I was able to attend all classes offered, direct my scenes while reaping the benefits of feedback from several mentor directors, attend directing classes facilitated by mentor directors, and create a strong bond with fellow interns over stimulating discussions on all matters directing! I miss them already! – Dr. Marisa DeSilva, stage directing intern

I’m so thankful that the Druid City Opera Workshop was my first summer program! This intensive (and it was darn INTENSE) taught volumes about myself as a singer, actor, performer, and person. The honesty shared by my colleagues and professors reinvigorated my love for the craft and my confidence that I CAN do this. – Evan Fleming, baritone, Montclair State University

How to even begin. This past week at the Druid City Opera Workshop has without a doubt been one of the most important weeks of my entire life. I’m a changed performer, musician, actor, and person. I owe it all to the people I’ve worked with here, people I’ll remember for the rest of my life and who I can’t wait to work with again someday. Thank you especially to Paul Houghtaling and the entire faculty and staff for this invaluable experience. I’m filled with overwhelming gratitude and luck for having experienced such joy in my craft. – Casey Robichaux, baritone, University of Louisiana, Lafayette

The past eight days have been so incredibly impactful on me, not just as a musician, but also as a human being. I have made incredible connections with the most amazing group of people with whom I have ever had the pleasure of sharing a stage. These men and women are brilliant musicians, compassionate humans, and supportive friends. They have allowed me to be unashamedly myself, and the energy they give me is unparalleled. – Thai Johnson, tenor, Columbus State University

2018

Druid City 2018

“I am still amazed at the encouragement, inspiration, and practicality of the Druid City Opera Workshop and everyone involved. Thank you Paul Houghtaling, the entire faculty, my colleagues, and those who recommended this program to me and I strongly encourage everyone to consider it in your 2019 schedule!” – Kaitlin Pearson, mezzo-soprano, University of South Dakota

“What an amazing life changing experience, I miss it so much. I can’t express how extremely grateful I am to have been at this program, surrounded by various talent and kind hearts in the group and faculty. The directors and coaches taught me so much and never stopped believing in me. I HIGHLY recommend The Druid City Opera Workshop to any young artist wanting an incredible experience in not only performing and growing as an artist but growing with the people around you who become lifelong friends.” – Emily Clements, soprano, University of Nevada Las Vegas

“Thanks so much for the opportunity!  I enjoyed the experience, and came home with new ideas and tools.  I found the feedback from more experienced directors quite helpful, and really enjoyed talking to my fellow intern Josh!  The sessions for us were very informative and helpful.  All the discussions helped my wheels to turn, and my creativity to unfold.  I don’t feel like I have directors block (is that a thing?) anymore.” – Ariana Wyatt, stage directing intern, Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech

“I was so blessed to be in this amazing group of singers. What a supportive group! To all singers, I HIGHLY recommend this program with its amazing director Paul Houghtaling, who is actively involved throughout the process and hires the best of the best. Thank you to the unbelievable staff and faculty who made this a life-changing experience. My friends and colleagues, when one of us succeeds, we all succeed! (A big take away from these amazing people)” – Katelynn Leora Mayer, mezzo-soprano, University of Nevada Las Vegas

“I’ve never had so much fun in my life than I did the 8 days I was with these wonderful individuals and professionals. If you are an aspiring opera singer and you ever need a reminder of why we do what we do, I encourage you to audition and go to the Druid City Opera Workshop. Dr. Paul Houghtaling is as advertised and he will change your life with himself and his incredible staff/colleagues that he brings to it. I cannot thank the program enough for having me, loving me, and for allowing me to make music and perform with you all. I so proud to be a part of this fabulous program, Druid City 2017!”— William Tiffin, tenor, Mississippi State University

“This program allowed for an intense and nurturing insight into the world of coaching opera. It allowed me to have an independent voice in musical choices, yet I had world-class coaches who offered wonderful, constructive feedback each step of the way. I can’t recommend this program enough.”—Scott Santoro, collaborative pianist intern, University of Alabama

2017

Druid City 2017

“With all my heart, THANK YOU!  Each of us is coming away a better, more empowered singer and all-around performer. I will never forget Druid City.” — Bree Nichols, soprano, University of Georgia

“Druid City provided me with a new motivation to continue in this beautiful art form. This is a gem of a program with a spectacular faculty.” — Samuelle Reese, tenor, University of Oklahoma

“This was a life-changing experience. I greatly admire the level of organization of the program. Thank you for your energy and personality, Dr. Houghtaling.”  — Calebria Webb, mezzo-soprano, Wayne State University

“This opera workshop has exposed me to so many thing that I will continue to carry with me. Right from the beginning, I was welcomed as family.” — Hayden Keefer, baritone, Virginia Tech

“I honestly could not have asked for a better program to start my young artist experiences.  Dr. Houghtaling has created such a nurturing environment for young singers and given us the best faculty around.” — Cassie Warthen, soprano, Georgia Southern University

“My experience at Druid City is one I will never forget. All my friends, family, and teachers will hear about this program. I feel motivated and determined to utilize the tools handed to me from this program – to achieve my career goals, to hone my talents and be that well-rounded young artist – to market my craft well – to manage my time and finances effectively – to be the very best that I can be. Thank you for making this a possibility. — Danielle Watson, soprano, Alcorn State University

“I’m so grateful for this week and the opportunity to not only direct operatic theatre, but to do so with a group of singers and faculty who were kind and passionate about not just singing, but making magic onstage. Programs like theses are rare. Directors interested in opera and musical theatre, I highly recommend the Druid City Opera Workshop.” — Lauren Carlton, stage directing intern, MFA candidate, Texas Tech University

2016

“I got so much from this wonderful experience, which was so much more than I expected! I learned not only the very realistic knowledge about pursuing a career, but also found the inspiration for singing!  You made me brave! The most obvious change when I came back home is that I am more motivated to get up everyday, warm up my voice, and be a singer!  Love for my art is consistent and forever.” — Jing Liu, soprano, Syracuse University

“With a world class faculty, students get the opportunity to experience what it is like to be a true professional — from scene work and yoga for singers to perfecting your resume in order to “GET THE JOB!”  Paul Houghtaling and his creative team have done an exquisite job at creating this safe and constructive environment and its future looks brighter than ever! I had the pleasure of attending this program last month and strongly suggest that my fellow colleagues encourage their students to apply or consider applying yourself! You will not be disappointed.” — Scott Willis, baritone, East Carolina University, current faculty member at Tennessee State University

“Now that I have settled down and at home, I can finally talk about the amazing time I had at Druid City Opera Workshop 2016 in Tuscaloosa, AL. The amount of work, information, skills, and artistry I learned is priceless. I have taken a step further towards my ultimate goal! Thank you to all the amazing faculty who provided so much for us and created a safe environment. I needed to feel alive again, and this program definitely made me feel whole. To all the young artist who made my experience so much fun and gave me more ambition to be better at my craft. Onward and upward we continue to go!!!” — Sarai Villatoro, soprano, Sam Houston State University, Texas

 “Within a week I’ve grown so much as a young artist! I cannot wait to see what this next chapter holds for me! Thank you so much for an exciting week at Druid City.” — Garrett Torbert, tenor, University of Missouri Kansas City

“Druid City is by far one of the best programs you can attend as a musician. Dr. Paul Houghtaling and his wonderful group of esteemed faculty work relentlessly to prepare and improve the craft of each young artist in a myriad of ways. You learn what it truly takes to become a holistic performer, not only from the performing aspect, but the business side as well.  The amount of wisdom you gain is truly eye-opening, and I have created a strong bond with the amazing faculty and colleagues I met while being here again. Thank you Druid City for another fantastic summer of music, education, and overall excellence.” — Rene Vazquez, tenor, Lamar University, Texas

“I felt quite at home at Druid City and found that the wide variety of expertise covered by the faculty extremely beneficial. The entire program was motivating and engaging and reassured me of my choice to be a performer.”  —  Cody Arthur, tenor, University of Mississippi

“I had such a fantastic time and, more importantly, I’m left with such a fire to make things happen.  Druid City was truly a blessing.” — Courtney Gammill, mezzo-soprano, University of Montana

“The workshop wouldn’t be what it is without the faculty headed by Dr. Paul Houghtaling. At the core of Dr. Houghtaling’s being is a fierce desire to help people chase their dreams, the bigger the better. Of course he invests his time and energy into the organization and successful running of the program, but much more importantly he invests his heart and soul into helping each individual student in their unique pursuit of operatic success. At the end of the 9 day intensive, each student will have secured a permanent mentor, friend, and advocate in Dr. Houghtaling. The other faculty members follow his lead and give everything they can to facilitate the success of the group and of individuals”  —  Zack Brown, baritone, Simpson College, Iowa

“The 2016 Druid City Opera Workshop was an amazing experience! Thank you Paul Houghtaling  and all of the excellent faculty that made this program so fantastic. I learnt so much and had a great time meeting all of my fellow young artists.” — Matthew Snowdon, baritone, University of Toronto

2015

“I had an incredible time at Druid City. Everybody – faculty and participants – were kind, supportive, and inspiring and gave 110%. I truly felt that all the faculty wanted to do whatever they could to help us succeed both in the program and in our careers. I highly recommend this summer program to anyone who wants a unique and encouraging learning experience.”  — Maria Caycedo, soprano, University of Virginia

Past workshop participants
Druid City 2015

“Thank you so much for the wonderful experience. Druid City is something I won’t forget and I’ve definitely made lifelong colleagues and friends. It was such a great experience and I know I benefited from it greatly.” — Lane Northcutt, baritone, Murray State University

“I’m so grateful for my experience with the Druid City Opera Workshop and cannot believe how much I’ve learned from both my colleagues and the incredibly faculty. Special thanks to Paul Houghtaling for creating such a unique program that addresses every single aspect of what it means to be a successful artist in today’s world.  I now know what it truly means to be an artist and a good colleague. The Druid City faculty and young artists reminded me why it is we as artists do what we do, and I am so very grateful for every moment I spent in Alabama!” — Sarah Forestieri, soprano, University of Toronto

“This week has been the most enjoyable experience I’ve had in a long time. In the course of a week, Druid City has equipped me with new skills, experiences, and a network of talented friends and colleagues. I can’t wait to take what I’ve learned this week and apply it when I get home.”  — Baylee Stracener, mezzo-soprano, Arkansas State University

“I’m so happy I got to work with such talented and amazing people. This week I learned so much about movement, singing, and even getting stage-punched in the face. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of 27 singers from across the U.S. and Canada to grow with for 9 days. And not to mention the incredibly faculty!!! Thank you Paul Houghtaling for this awesome experience.”  — Lauren Nash Silberstein, soprano, Binghamton University, New York

“And that’s a wrap. Thanks to Paul Houghtaling for a wonderful program, and to Kevin Chance and the rest of the piano and coaching faculty for providing inspiration, guidance, and support this week. It’s been a challenging and motivating week full of great music!” — Devon Newburn, collaborative pianist intern, Colorado

“I can honestly say that Druid City was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.  I’ve grown so much as a musician and performer in such a short amount of time and I owe it all to the wonderful faculty and staff at the program as well as my supportive colleagues. I will forever cherish the friendships, the memories, the education, and the overall excellence I experienced at Druid City.” — Rene Vazquez, tenor, Sam Houston State University, Texas

2014

two women singing

“I want to sincerely thank you for a wonderful experience at Druid City. I came away from the trip as a much better musician, actress, and person. Your kindness will forever be with me.  I loved working with students of all levels of experience and getting to know them on a personal level as well. This program helped me understand what it means to be a well-rounded singer-actor and what it takes to succeed in this business. Druid City gave the confidence, focused mindset, and encouragement I needed to call myself an ‘Opera Singer’.” — Grace Manley, soprano, University of Nebraska Omaha

“Druid City truly was a life changing experience! I learned more than I ever thought possible in just a week’s time and I am amazed at my growth as a musician. I made friendships that I will cherish for a lifetime and through those people I have a renewed sense of purpose in my career choice. Thank you so much for the opportunity to change my life!” — Cori Beasley, soprano, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro

“Druid City was truly a positive and life-changing experience. Under the direction of Paul Houghtaling I learned three things: be prepared, perform with abandon, and love the people around you and the art itself. I never thought I would perform at this caliber over a year ago.” — Faustino “NJ” Solis, tenor, University of Nevada Las Vegas

“After going to The Druid City Opera Workshop 3 different times, I have to say this year was by far the best one yet. It was so refreshing to return to a program I hold close to my heart and meet new, amazing people, learn so much more, and sing better than I ever have. Thank you to everyone who was a part of this special week, especially Paul Houghtaling who has put so much into giving us a life changing experience. You continue to change my life and make me a better person and performer. As sad as I was to leave today, the memories we all made together will be a part of me forever. Thank you for sharing your hearts, talents, and knowledge with me. I love you all more than you’ll ever know! “This is who we are, this is what we do.” — Courtney Stancil, soprano, Southern Methodist University

“The Druid City Opera Workshop has by far been the BEST decision I’ve ever made. Being selected to be a part of this great program was a huge blessing to Me! I’ve met some AMAZINGLY INCREDIBLE young artists, coaches, and directors during this experience.  As well as, gained knowledge and insight on my dream career and what it takes to be successful in this field. Each member of the Druid City company has a special place in my heart, and I am honored to call you all my friends! — De’Von Smith, baritone, Alcorn State University, Mississippi

2013

“I can honestly say, this has been one of the best experiences of my life!!!! Thank you Dr. Houghtaling and everyone at Druid City Opera for everything!! This experience will have a special place in my heart forever.”  — Nick Szoeke, baritone, Sam Houston State University, Texas

“Druid City Opera Workshop is life-changing. Not only will you be able to own your craft like you never thought possible, but it will give you the tools to become a triple threat.” — Cheyna Alexander, soprano, University of Nevada Las Vegas

“I never imagined how much Druid City would change me as a person and, more importantly, as a singer. It gave me back my confidence and inspired me to continue pursuing my career. It reminded me why I love singing so much.” — Cristian Torres, tenor, University of Texas, Brownsville

“Doing Druid City last week was one of the best experiences of my life, and I am so grateful that it happened.” — Cornelia Lotito, soprano, Montclair State University, New Jersey

“Druid City Opera Workshop is the place to be. I learned so much, not only about my art but about who I am. I’ve never been more confident about my craft and I feel like I’ve been revived.” — Seth J. Stemple, tenor – Glenville State College, West Virginia

“Compared to other programs I’ve done, Druid City is unparalleled in terms of the amount of individual attention each participant receives. The scenes were carefully chosen to highlight every Megan-150x150singer, and the abundance of master classes and coachings provided fantastic opportunities to work with enthusiastic, knowledgeable professionals. The seminars on the business aspects of an operatic career were a wonderful supplement.” — Rachel Yap, soprano, North Park University, Chicago

“Thank you so much for such an amazing experience. I learned so much, not only about my voice, but also new skills which will make me a better artist.” — Rachel Hutzenbiler, soprano, East Carolina University

“Thanks for allowing me to be part of such a wonderful group! Druid City is such a well-rounded program, with one on one advice from professionals in opera. I feel so much more confident about applying to other summer programs and graduate schools.”  (Briana Fae Raif, mezzo-soprano – University of Mississippi)

“Thank you so much for the opportunity.  Druid City was truly one of the best experiences of my life. I felt like I grew more as a professional and artist over the course of the week. This program is worth every penny, one of the most complete young artist programs out there.”  — Colin Alexander, baritone, Birmingham-Southern College

2012

“Thank you for an amazing program. Those eight days have made me feel extremely confident in my abilities as a performer and on what I have to offer Young Artist Programs. This program was exactly what I needed. I can’t tell you enough how wonderful it was and how much I’ve appreciated all that you’ve done for it.” — Elayne Juten, mezzo-soprano, University of Iowa
“I learned so many different things in this week I will take them with me for my whole career. This was such a fantastic program with wonderful people.” — Brittany Anderson, soprano, University of Northern Illinois

“Thanks for such a great experience. I learned so so much, not only about everything involved with opera but about myself as well.” — Aimee Allen, soprano, Simpson College, Iowa

“This program was just fantastic.  The caliber of the faculty was ASTOUNDING.  Each teacher contributed so much to my growth throughout the week.  Druid City was CLEARLY the right decision.   Your program has re-kindled my love for performing and helped me to realize that I can continue to grow as a singer/actress.  I have never met anyone so devoted to helping young singers succeed.” — Rachel L. Smith, soprano, graduate of University of Northern Colorado

2011

“My heart was opened by a group of people I will never forget. Spending the week with such gifted, talented, intelligent, loving people was a tremendous blessing. I can’t wait to return next year.” — Ashley Drake Estes, soprano, New York, NY
“This week has been the greatest week of my entire life! I miss my Druid City family already.” — Leah Marsella, soprano, Sam Houston State University, Texas

“I attended this program last year. My excitement for this year’s experience comes from witnessing this program, in one year, growing to become a powerhousse of intense training that I have not yet experienced anywhere else. The faculty fuels the environment for growth and development. I have every intention of continuing to attend this program once a year. I cannot wait to see what Druid City has in store for its participants in the future” — Katy Green, soprano, recent graduate of Murray State University, Kentucky

“My experience with the Druid City Opera Workshop was phenomenal. The “Business of Singing” workshops were especially resourceful because learning how to market yourself is one of the most important aspects of being a performer. I will always remember ‘This is who we are and this is what we do!'”
— Vincent Hale, baritone, Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, AL

“This week has been amazing.” — Courtney Stancil, soprano, Sam Houston State University, Texas

2010

“This was an amazing experience for me! I loved how everything was so organized.  It was truly inspiring to be around such exciting and energetic faculty members. They were helpful, insightful, and critical while maintaining a positive approach to teaching us. I had a blast and I’m already looking forward to returning next summer.” — Katy Green, soprano, Murray State University, KY2-300x208

“The experience gave me the opportunity to involve myself in the operatic art form in a way that was more enriching and fulfilling than anything else I’d ever experienced … a friendly, focused, and professional community.” — Jacob Wooten, baritone, University of Alabama-Birmingham, AL

“The program exceeded my expectations!  Every second was spent honing our craft and growing in the art of opera. ” — Katelyn Perkins, mezzo-soprano, University of Montevallo, AL

“I learned a great deal from this program.  I wish it was longer!  The movement and acting classes were tremendously enlightening and helpful.” — Kawika Berthelette, baritone, Colorado State University, Colorado Springs, CO

“This was an intense program that was reasonably priced. At the end, I felt as if I had grown as a performer. It is really beneficial to have a program like this in the state.” — Marc Anderson, tenor, University of north Alabama, Florence, AL

“It was fun working with a group of new people with different backgrounds. Everyone was just concerned with doing well and that was quite refreshing.” — Pete Lake, tenor, University of Mobile, AL

“This week taught me numerous things I’ll never forget. I’m so thankful to have had Druid City constantly push  me toward my potential … and this week I was pushed! — Camille Sonnier, soprano, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL