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Resident Artist Program

Inaugurated in the 2016-2017 season, the Resident Artist Program launched Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s first true Resident Company. Artists are chosen following a series of local and national auditions and are overseen and mentored by Vinson Cole, UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance faculty member and one of the leading artists of his generation.

During their Residency, in addition to appearing in main stage roles, the Resident Artists will work with visiting guest artists’ conductors and directors, participate in master classes, career coaching, study leading roles, make musical appearances in the community, and appear in Lyric Opera’s  Explorations Series performances, which will focus on intimate gems of the vocal music repertoire. The Resident Artists will have a full time 8-month contract for one or two years and receive artistic training via master classes with guest artists, acting, movement and stage combat and professional career development. The artists have completed their post-graduate education and may have some professional experience.

Resident Artists Program is sponsored by The Estate of Richard Hill, Charter Sponsor of the Resident Artists Program, The Ingram Family Foundation, and a generous Anonymous Donor. 

2018-2019 Resident Artists

The Resident Artists were selected after a rigorous national audition.

Kaylie Kahlich – Soprano

Kaylie Kahlich received her Master’s Degree in Voice Performance from the University of Houston Moores School of Music, and her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Baylor University. Professionally, Kahlich has sung roles for Operativo Houston and Miami Summer Music Festival.

For the 2018-19 season, Kahlich appears in High Fidelity Opera and Mack the Knife is The Man I Love as part of our Explorations Series.






Kelly Birch – Mezzo-Soprano

Kelly Birch, received her DMA in Vocal Performance from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Professionally, Birch has sung roles for Topeka Symphony Orchestra, Opera NEO (San Diego), and the Varna International Opera Academy in Bulgaria.

For the 2018-19 season, Birch appears as Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly on the main stage, and in High Fidelity Opera and Mack the Knife is The Man I Love as part of our Explorations Series.





Joseph Leppek – Tenor

Tenor Joseph Leppek received his Master’s Degree in Voice Performance from Rice University and his Bachelor’s Degree from DePauw University. Professionally, Leppek has sung roles for Michigan Opera Theatre, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Saratoga, and the Glimmerglass Festival.
For the 2018-19 season, Leppek appears as Glad Hand in West Side Story on the main stage, and in High Fidelity Opera and Mack the Knife is The Man I Love as part of our Explorations Series.





James Maverick – Coach-Accompanist

James Maverick is completing his second year of residency with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and is a graduate of Indiana University. Last season, Maverick served as rehearsal pianist and vocal coach for the Resident Artists in each of our four mainstage productions, and played in the orchestra during our production of Everest. Maverick has also coached at the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera and at the Indiana University Opera Theater.



Past Resident Artists

2017 - 18

2017-2018 Resident Artists

The Resident Artists were selected after a rigorous national audition of more than 350 singers.

Marlen Nahhas – Soprano

Lebanese-Mexican soprano Marlen Nahhas has been an apprentice artist at Central City Opera for the last two summers where she was awarded the coveted young artist scholarship. The year prior, she was a festival artist at Utah Festival Opera where she won first place in the Michael Ballam International Opera Competition.  Ms. Nahhas has been a two-time regional finalist in the Midwest region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. She received her Bachelors of Music in vocal performance and musical theatre at Oklahoma City University and her Masters and Performance diploma from Indiana University under the tutelage of Carol Vaness. Recent roles include the title role in Tosca, Cio-Cio San in Madama butterfly, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte and Mimi in La bohème.

As a Resident Artist for the 2017- 2018 season, Ms. Nahhas will perform the roles of The Page in Rigoletto and Berta in The Barber of Seville.

Lauren Auge – Mezzo-Soprano

Lauren Auge, mezzo-soprano, is described as “offering something transformative to the audience” in her work on the stage. Most recently, Ms. Auge was seen as Jennie in Kurt Weill’s Down in the Valley and Dorabella in Cosí fan tutte. Making her mark on the competition scene, Ms. Auge was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Bel Canto Foundation competition, the 2014 winner of Sinfonietta Bel Canto Voice Competition, a finalist in the Harold Haugh Light Opera Competition and a first place winner in the 2013 Pantazelos Performing Artists Foundation Vocal Competition. Recently Ms. Auge was also a Danis Wilson Apprentice Artist at the Sugar Creek Symphony and Song Festival. Previous operatic roles have included Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, The Duchess in Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta The Gondoliers, Thelma in Cold Sassy Tree and The Wife in Darius Milhaud’s dark opera Le pauvre matelot.

As a Resident Artist for the 2017- 2018 season, Ms. Auge will perform the role of Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto.

Martin Luther Clark – Tenor

Tenor Martin Luther Clark is an alumnus at the University of North Texas holding a Graduate Artist Certificate and Bachelor of Music degree both in Vocal Performance. While at UNT, Mr. Clark studied voice with Dr. Stephen F. Austin and Professor William Joyner. He recently made his Charlottesville Opera debut as a Young Artist singing the role of Borsa (Rigoletto) and covering Curly (Oklahoma!). In May of 2017, he covered the role of Arjuna (Arjuna’s Dilemma) with the Dallas Opera. For the 2016 season, Mr. Clark performed roles including Tonio (La fille du regiment) with Opera North, Bastien (Bastien and Bastienne) with the Dallas Opera Outreach, Mozart (Mozart and Salieri) with Opera in Concert, and several others. Also in 2016, he was selected as a semi-finalist in the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition where he was the youngest competitor by two years. Throughout his college career at UNT, he performed numerous roles including Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Count Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Camille (The Merry Widow), and Frederic (The Pirates of Penzance) to name a few. Making his debut at Wolf Trap Opera, he sang the role of Le Fils (Les mamelles des Tirésias) as a Studio Artist.

As a Resident Artist for the 2017- 2018 season, Mr. Clark will perform the roles of The Peasant in Eugene Onegin and Borsa in Rigoletto.

Tim Murray – Baritone

Lauded for his “…consistent, attractive baritone” (Opera News) and “…firm, flexible baritone” (The New York Times), Wisconsin-born baritone Tim Murray makes his Lyric Opera of Kansas City debut this season as a member of the 2017-2018 Resident Artist Program. Mr. Murray’s 2016-2017 season included a return to the Oratorio Society of New York to cover the baritone soloist in Britten’s War Requiem, a short-notice Silvio in I pagliacci with Cedar Rapids Opera, Dandini in La Cenerentola with ARE Opera, NYC, and Moralès in Carmen and Ananias in Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace with Central City Opera as a member of the Apprentice Artist program. Previous credits include the baritone soloist in both Berlioz’s Lélio with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and Mahler’s 8th Symphony with the Oratorio Society of New York. While a student at Manhattan School of Music, Mr. Murray recorded the role of Le Vicomte de Valmont in Susa’s The Dangerous Liaisons with Albany Records.

As a Resident Artist for the 2017- 2018 season, Mr. Murray will perform the roles of Zaretski/Captain in Eugene Onegin, Guy Cotter in Everest, Marullo in Rigoletto and The Officer in The Barber of Seville.

James Maverick – Coach-Accompanist

Coach and accompanist James Maverick is from Bloomington, Indiana. Most recently, he was Apprentice Coach at San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program and the Coach Accompanist for Indiana University Opera Theater where he worked on productions of La fille du régiment and Peter Grimes. Mr. Maverick is a graduate of Indiana University.

2016 - 17

The Resident Artists were selected after a rigorous national audition of more than 100 singers.  We welcome the inaugural 2016-2017 class!

April Martin – SopranoApril Martin – Soprano

Soprano April Martin recently performed a thrilling depiction of the Governess in Britten’s thought provoking opera, The Turn of the Screw. In November 2015 she sang the 2nd Wood Sprite in Dvořák’s Rusalka, and in the spring of 2016 Ms. Martin sang Frasquita in Bizet’s Carmen, both with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.  This summer, Ms. Martin will make her debut with Finger Lakes Opera.  Other credits include Antonia (Man of La Mancha) with the Central City Opera Company as an apprentice artist, Musetta (La bohème) with the Bar Harbor Music Festival in Maine, as well as the roles of Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Niece 1 (Peter Grimes), Anne Egerman (A Little Night Music) and Blanche de la Force (Dialogues of the Carmelites).  April has won awards in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Heafner/Williams Vocal Competition (2nd Place) and the Opera Carolina Guild Competition (2nd Place). She studies under the tutelage of renowned American tenor, Vinson Cole.

As a Resident Artist for the 2016-2017 season, Ms. Martin will perform the roles of Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel, Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro, Kitty Hart in Dead Man Walking and Isabel in The Pirates of Penzance. Learn more about Ms. Martin on her website

Samantha Gossard - Headshot (2016)Samantha Gossard – Mezzo-Soprano

Mezzo-soprano, Samantha Gossard, is recognized by critics and audiences alike for her rich, warm voice and powerful stage portrayals. This past spring, Ms. Gossard sang on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera as a National Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Earlier last season, she made her “stunning” role debut as Zerlina in Don Giovanni with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City ( and also appeared as Mercedes in Carmen and the Third Woodsprite in Rusalka. She was previously an Apprentice Artist for Lyric Opera of Kansas City and performed the roles of Zulma in L’italiana in Algeri and Madeleine Audebert in Silent Night. Ms. Gossard was a Gerdine Young Artist with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2015, and has also been an Apprentice Artist with Central City Opera in Colorado, where she covered and performed Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. Other favorite opera credits with these companies include Dead Man Walking, La Rondine, Emmeline, Die Fledermaus, and La Traviata. Ms. Gossard was a New Horizon Fellow with the Aspen Music Festival and School for two summers and is a former student of the Aspen Opera Theatre Center.

As a Resident Artist for the 2016-2017 season, Ms. Gossard will perform the roles of Cherubino in the production of The Marriage of Figaro, Jade Boucher in Dead Man Walking, and Kate in The Pirates of Penzance. Learn more about Ms. Gossard on her website at

Casey Candebat - BaritoneCasey Candebat – Tenor

Tenor Casey Candebat, a native of New Orleans, has been hailed by the Los Angeles Times as having “the big, straightforward Italian sound” and by the San Francisco Chronicle as being “one of the up and coming stars of opera.” A recent two-time participant in the illustrious Merola Opera Program, Mr. Candebat performed the role of Il Podestà in Mozart’s La Finta Giardinera, and covered the role of Mr. Owen in Argento’s Postcard from Morocco. He returned to Merola Opera in 2014 to perform the role of Mitch in Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire and a highly acclaimed scene from Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz. A frequent performer with the New Orleans Opera, he has been featured in their productions of Dead Man Walking, Salome, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Il Trittico, Manon Lescaut, La bohème, and Turandot.  Mr. Candebat has been a young artist at Chautauqua Opera in their 2009 and 2010 seasons. He has also been a young artist at Opera North where he performed the role of Dr. Cajus in Verdi’s Falstaff. Mr. Candebat has won several prestigious vocal competitions, including the Grand Prize in the Bel Canto Foundation Voice Competition, 2011, a four-time regional finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and the Chautauqua Opera Guild’s Encouragement Award, 2010. Mr. Candebat is a graduate of Northwestern University and Loyola University New Orleans.

As a Resident Artist for the 2016-2017 season, Mr. Candebat will perform the role of Father Grenville in Dead Man Walking. Learn more about Mr. Candebat on his website at

John Viscardi - BaritoneJohn Viscardi – Baritone

Baritone John Viscardi is a New York native and graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. His 2015-16 season included his Carnegie Hall debut with Maestro Z. Randall Stroope, performing Vaughn Williams’ Five Mystical Songs and Stroope’s American Rhapsody.  This was followed by Morales in Carmen with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Baritone Soloist in Carmina Burana with Opera Philadelphia, Silvio in Il Pagliacci with Venture Opera and Opera San Luis Obispo, and Bill Calhoun in Kiss Me Kate with the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice. In the 2014-15 Season, Mr. Viscardi made a series of role debuts beginning with Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor with New York Opera Exchange, followed by his Michigan Opera Theatre debut as Valentin in Faust, Bumerli in The Chocolate Soldier with Concert Operetta Theatre and Robert in Iolanta with Tri-Cities Opera. Mr. Viscardi has seen great success in the American Competition circuit.  Awards include first place in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, Santa Fe Opera’s Anna Case MacKay Memorial Award, the Lys Symonette Award from the Kurt Weill Foundation, Lotte Lenya Competition, and George London Foundation Encouragement Award.

As a Resident Artist for the 2016-2017 season, Mr. Viscardi will perform the role of the Motorcycle Cop in Dead Man Walking. Learn more about Mr. Viscardi on his website at

Kyle Naig - Coach-AccompanistKyle Naig – Coach-Accompanist

Pianist and coach Kyle Naig is from Des Moines, Iowa. Most recently he was a Mosher Studio Artist at Opera Santa Barbara, where he worked on productions of L’elisir d’amore and Suor Angelica/Gianni Schicchi as well as the promotional concert and outreach tour. Other recent engagements include work at Des Moines Metro Opera (Galileo Galilei, Manon, La hija de Rappaccini, Three Decembers) and Opera Bozeman (Don Pasquale). Kyle is a graduate of the University of Kansas.

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