AVA Announces New Resident Artists

July 5, 2023


July 6, 2023 (Philadelphia, PA): The Academy of Vocal Arts is thrilled to welcome six new young singers to their current roster of Resident Artists. The singers, who hail from Canada, China, and throughout the USA, will begin their studies at AVA this fall. 

Incoming class of Resident Artists:

“We are thrilled to welcome these extraordinary artists to the Academy of Vocal Arts,” said Scott Guzielek, President and Artistic Director of AVA. “They represent the future of opera and embody the passion, dedication, and artistry that we strive to foster at our institution. We are confident that their presence will enrich our community and captivate audiences with their exceptional talents.”

The Academy of Vocal Arts has long been regarded as a premier training ground for emerging opera singers. Through its intensive program, resident artists receive personalized instruction from world-class faculty, gain invaluable performance experience, and have the opportunity to collaborate with renowned opera professionals.

The information below contains the biographies of each of the incoming Resident Artists:  

Joshua Berg is a tenor from Gladstone, New Jersey. In May of 2023, He graduated with a Bachelors’ Degree from Rice University, where he studied vocal performance at the Shepherd School of Music under Dr. Robin Rice.  At Rice, Joshua performed numerous operatic roles such as Abraham Kaplan in Street Scene, ein Soldat in Der Kaiser von Atlantis, and le petit vielliard in L’enfant et les Sortilèges. During his time at the Shepherd School, he sang as a soloist in many concerts of sacred music under the direction of Maestro Thomas Jaber. In the summer of 2022, Joshua was a studio artist at The Aspen Music Festival and School, where he sang Bardolfo in a production of Verdi’s Falstaff alongside Sir Bryn Terfel in the title role. In the summers of 2020 and 2021, Joshua was a vocal fellow at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. There, he was featured in multimedia projects under the direction of James Darrah and John Churchwell. Prior to Rice, Joshua studied at the Juilliard School in the Pre-College division under the instruction of Lorraine Nubar, working closely with acclaimed pianist Dalton Baldwin before his passing. He is also proud to be an alumnus of YoungArts, chosen as a national finalist in 2019.

Chinese soprano, Manli Deng is the winner of the 3rd prize at the Sylvia Green Voice Competition 2022, a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2019 and 2020. She has performed the roles of Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Lady in Waiting (Macbeth), Mimi (La boheme), Elena (Hin und Zurück by Hindemith), Hunyu (Rickshaw Boy by Guo Wenjing), Hou Yuqing (Deng Enming). She was awarded the “most potential prize” in Second Maxim Mikhailov International Vocal Competition and second place in the Maxim Mikhailov International of Vocal Chamber Music Competition. 

Canadian mezzo-soprano, Ariana Maubach made her professional debut this summer singing Linette in Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges where she was an Apprentice Artist at Des Moines Metro Opera. While pursuing her Master’s of Music at the College Conservatory at University of Cincinnati on full scholarship, she sang the roles of Mère Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites and Dorothée in L’Amant Anonyme. Her affinity for contemporary repertoire shone in her portrayal of Madame in the Cincinnati Opera Fusion workshop of Bulrusher. During the 2022 season, Ariana performed in La bohème with the Spoleto Festival and in Eugene Onegin at Music Academy of the West where she was a Vocal Fellow. Ariana earned her Bachelor of Music in Voice with Distinction from The Eastman School of Music. 

American soprano, Veronica Richer, has been receiving recognition for her rich voice and dramatic characterizations, performing a wide variety of operatic repertoire and concert works. She was recently praised for her “fearless high register and good projection and enunciation”, (The Boston Musical Intelligencer). This season, Veronica will sing the title role of Angelica in Puccini’s Suor Angelica with the Bay View Music Festival in addition to Nella in Gianni Schicchi. Veronica holds a Master’s degree from Mannes School of Music and a Bachelor of Music from the Boston Conservatory. Veronica is also a talented violinist and passionate voice teacher. 

Geoffrey Schmelzer is a baritone from the Chicago suburb of Skokie, IL. He holds a Master of Music from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has studied voice with W. Stephen Smith, Nathan Gunn, and Jerold Siena. Recent roles include Grégorio in Roméo et Juliette with Central City Opera, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with Finger Lakes Opera, Boatswain in H.M.S. Pinafore with the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Co. of Chicago, Schaunard in La bohème and Mr. Gobineau in The Medium with Northwestern Opera Theater. Geoffrey received an Encouragement Award at the 2023 Laffont Competition Iowa District and is a winner of the 2023 Northwestern University Concerto Competition.  

Nan Wang, bass-baritone is from Handan, Hebei, China. He has a MM and PS (Professional Study) in Vocal Performance at Manhattan School of Music; BM in Vocal and Opera Performance, Central Conservatory of Music, China. Previous credits: Le Portrait de Manon (Des Grieux), The Cunning Little Vixen (Harašta), Le nozze di Figaro (Bartolo), and Martha (Sir Tristan) at Manhattan School of Music (cancelled due to COVID-19); Don Giovanni (Masetto; cover Leporello) at Chautuauqua Institution; Dido and Aeneas (Sorcerer), Flying to the Moon (Wu Gang) at Central Conservatory of Music, China; Along with his work in the standard repertoire, Mr. Wang has premiered many pieces of young emerging composers, like The Last Time of Christ (Christ) and Asian Copper In September (Soloist). Upcoming performance: La bohème (Colline) and Roméo et Juliette (cover Count Capulet) at Glimmerglass Festival. Recent awards include 2023 The Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition, Encouragement Award in New England Region; and 2023 The Stan Sesser Award in Voice at Manhattan School of Music.



The mission of the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) is to be the world’s premier institution for training young artists as international opera soloists. Through rigorous instruction and coaching, and by presentations of Resident Artists from around the world in concerts, oratorios, public programs and fully staged professional opera productions, AVA will train artists with the high potential for career success while enriching lives in Philadelphia and beyond. Gifted singers come from throughout the world to seek the exceptional guidance and training that AVA offers. Admission is determined by competitive annual auditions. AVA is distinguished by its reputation for high quality performances that are acclaimed by critics locally, nationally and internationally. Each year AVA Resident Artists are presented in four or five fully-staged opera productions accompanied by orchestra. Resident Artists are cast in leading roles that they will in all likelihood continue to perform for the rest of their careers.

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