Our world-class faculty consists of professionals and teachers who have expertise in the operatic traditions and the evolving demands of the 21st century artist. Throughout the programs, they work together to ensure that participants receive well-rounded training that is reinforced program-wide.


David Aks

David Aks

Conducting / Visualization
  • OperaWorks faculty since 1987
  • Conducting positions in New York, Florida, Colombia (South America)
  • Assistant Conductor to Seiji Ozawa at Tanglewood
  • Music staff at Altenburg Musiktheater Akademie in Germany
  • Guest Conductor with the Black Sea Philharmonic (Romania)
  • Former Music Director and Conductor of the CSUN Opera Theater at California State University, Northridge

Dr. Michelle Alexander
  • OperaWorks faculty since 2016
  • Faculty at Boston Conservatory & Boston University
  • Music staff at Boston Lyric Opera, Portland Opera, & Granite State Opera
  • Conductor for Marsh Chapel Collegium Soloists & Riverside Theatreworks
  • Pianist for Frederica von Stade’s farewell recital tour

Vida Alikani

  • OperaWorks faculty since 2005
  • Teaches the usefulness of yoga practice in supporting singers’ personal and artistic growth
  • Dancer and ballet instructor, certified yoga teacher from Center for Yoga (Los Angeles)
  • English literature degree
  • Author of articles for health and fitness magazines

Ann Baltz

Performance Techniques / Musical Improv / Career Planning
  • Founder and Artistic Director of OperaWorks
  • Master teacher of performance skills and operatic improvisation for opera companies, conservatories and universities
  • Speaker at National Association of Teachers of Singing, National Opera Association, and Classical Singer conferences
  • Steering committee for OPERA America’s Singer Training Forum
  • Panelist for OPERA America’s “Building a Career: Strategies for Success”

Read Ann’s Full Bio

Kevin Bylsma

  • OperaWorks faculty since 2010
  • Head of music preparation at Toledo Opera
  • Music Director for Department of Community Programs at Michigan Opera, Lyric Chamber Ensemble of Detroit, Papagena Opera Company of Ann Arbor
  • Coach, accompanist, chorus master for OPERA!Lenawee
  • Toured with tenor Robert Mirshak
  • Principal keyboardist with the Adrian and Greater Lansing Symphony Orchestras

John Mario Di Constanzo

  • OperaWorks faculty since 2015
  • Music Director Tri Cities Opera
  • Guest Conductor for Sarasota Opera, Toledo Opera, Syracuse Opera, Opera Southwest
  • Artistic Director of Long Island Opera
  • Host of NPR radio show Operalogues
  • Principal Conductor for Jackie Evancho’s Dream With Me, Songs of the Silver Screen, & Awakening tours
  • Italian Language Coach for New York City Opera
  • Music Director & Conductor for Inland Valley Symphony

Zeffin Quinn Hollis

Acting & Stage Direction / Social Media / Relationship Marketing
  • OperaWorks faculty since 2010
  • Principal artist at Dallas Opera, New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Pacific, Opera Theatre of Pittsburg, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Delaware, Toledo Opera, New Orleans Opera, Hungary’s Szeged & Pécs National Theaters, and the Dicapo Opera Theater
  • Co-founder Singing Actors’ Lab in Los Angeles
  • Director and Acting Coach for Opera Las Vegas, Los Angeles’ Dell Chamber Opera

Laura Parker

Acting Improvisation
  • OperaWorks faculty since 2015
  • Comedic, theatrical, musical, & hip-hop improvisation with Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre-NYC, Second City-LA, iO West, Artistic New Directions-NYC, & Magnet Theater-NYC
  • Operatic improv performances at Classical Singer National Conventions, Opera America, & Hollywood Ford Amphitheater
  • OperaWorks 2004 alumna

Dr. Elvia Puccinelli

  • OperaWorks faculty since 2001
  • Pianist with Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Chamber Concert Series, Placido Domingo’s Operalia Competition, NATS conventions
  • Alumna of the Merola Program
  • Rehearsal pianist for Seiji Ozawa at Tanglewood Music Festival
  • Associate Professor of Music at University of North Texas
  • Music staff at Baylor University & Thornton School of Music of the University of Southern California

Eric Sedgwick

  • OperaWorks faculty since 2010
  • Music staff at Tanglewood Music Festival, Manhattan School of Music, Opera Singers Initiatives, the Art Song Preservation Society of New York, Riverfront Opera, Stonewall Chorale
  • Broadway Concerts Direct with Leona Mitchell, Sarah Rice
  • Accompanist for Cutting Edge Concerts, Thomas Stacy’s English Horn Seminar
  • Premieres by Seymour Barab, J. Mark Stambaugh, Joelle Wallach, Louis Hardin

Janet Crouch Shulman

Alexander Technique
  • OperaWorks faculty since 2014
  • Faculty at California State University, Northridge
  • Professor of cello at The Master’s College
  • Previously taught at the Colburn School, Cal Arts, University of Southern California, Theatricum Botanicum
  • Trained at Alexander Technique Studio with Karen Wentworth in London
  • Graduated from Alexander Training Institute of Los Angeles in 2002

Margaret Singer

  • OperaWorks faculty since 2013
  • Head of Apprentice Coach Program at the Atelier Lyrique of the Paris Opera since 1996
  • Founder of Apprentice Coach program at the Merola Program of the San Francisco Opera
  • Assistant Conductor at New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Washington (D.C.) Opera
  • Solo coach at Opera Company of Hannover, Germany
  • Worked with artists such as Sharon Sweet, Beverly Sills and Leonard Bernstein

Douglas Sumi

  • OperaWorks faculty since 2013
  • Music faculty at College of Music and Arts – Azusa Pacific University
  • Music staff at LA Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Centro Studi Lirica in Novafeltria, Ash Lawn Opera Festival
  • Alumnus of the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program
  • Recital collaborator in United States, Europe and Canada


Dr. Paula Thomson

Movement/ Choreographer
  • OperaWorks faculty since 2005
  • Artistic Director/Choreographer for Northern Lights Dance Theatre
  • Choreographer for Canadian Opera Company, Canadian Stage Company
  • Guest teacher at University of Cape Town, University of Limerick, Banff School of Fine Arts, Stratford Shakespearean Festival, Juilliard School of Music
  • Tenured faculty at York University’s Departments of Theatre and Graduate Studies
  • Associate Professor at California State University, Northridge
  • California licensed Clinical Psychologist

Eli Villanueva

Stage Director
  • OperaWorks faculty since 1998
  • Performer, director, composer
  • Baritone roles with San Francisco Opera Center, LA Opera, Cultural Arts Festival in Cortona, Italy
  • Resident stage director for LA Opera’s Education and Community Programs department
  • Popular compositions for LA Opera are Figaro’s American Adventure and The Marriage of Figueroa
  • Compositions ranging from solo vocal to choral works to popular handbell songs published by Fred Bock Music & Laurendale Associates