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The Kennedy Center

WNO Young Associates Program

Grades 9-12

About the Program

This program is open to high school students in the greater Washington, D.C. area who are interested in exploring the professional world of opera. Whether your interest is in performing onstage or in the orchestra; designing sets, costumes, or lighting; working behind the scenes; bringing the production and audiences together through public relations and marketing; or any of the various other aspects that go into making opera and related art forms happen; we welcome you to apply!

Participants will get an up close and personal look at how a world class opera company creates a professional production by observing the Washington National Opera throughout several stages of the rehearsal process. In addition, students will have exclusive discussions with artists and WNO staff, mock auditions, and private tours of the WNO Costume Studio and the backstage of the Kennedy Center Opera House.

This program is appropriate for students of various experience levels. If you have a curiosity for the arts and a willingness to dedicate your time, you are welcome to apply, no matter if you are already well-versed in the art form, coming to opera from a related field, or if it is a new discovery for you. While not designed exclusively for vocalists, singers of various experience levels interested in deepening their knowledge of opera and classical music are encouraged to participate.

The 2016-2017 program will center around WNO's production of Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment featuring famed American tenor Lawrence Brownlee.

Students who have applied to or participated in the WNO Young Associates program previously are welcome–and encouraged–to reapply.

The WNO Young Associates program is designed to help prepare students interested in the arts for college and beyond by providing information about the professional world, allowing them to practice professionalism, and contributing to their ability to make informed decisions and have agency over their futures.

Program Schedule*

The 2016-2017 WNO Young Associates program will focus on rehearsal observations of The Daughter of the Regiment augmented by discussions with artists and additional sessions related to the professional world of opera.

Saturday, October 22, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
WNO Rehearsal Studios in Takoma Park
Saturday, October 29, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
WNO Rehearsal Studios in Takoma Park
Saturday, November 5, 4:30-8:30 p.m.
The Kennedy Center
Thursday, November 10, 6-9:30 p.m.
The Kennedy Center

Participating students must commit to attending all events. Students should plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the beginning of each event to check in and be escorted to the event area. Please note that events take place at both the WNO Rehearsal Studios in Takoma Park and the Kennedy Center.

*Dates and times are subject to change

Program Components

  • Rehearsal observations, seeing how a production comes together by observing various stages of the rehearsal process
  • Exclusive discussions providing direct interaction with professionals in the field including creative team members, WNO staff, and artists
  • Behind-the-scenes tours of the WNO Costume Studio and backstage at the Kennedy Center Opera House
  • Mock auditions focusing on preparation for vocal programs (all students will be able to observe and ask questions; a small number of students will perform a classical or musical theater piece of their choosing for professional feedback)

Additional, optional events may be added throughout the school year, such as invitations to additional rehearsals, performances, and events related to vocal music and theater.

About The Daughter of the Regiment


The Daughter of the Regiment (La fille du regiment) (1839)
Gaetano Donizetti / Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges & Jean-François Bayard
In French with Projected English Titles
New WNO production

A woman raised by soldiers must convince her "fathers" to let her marry a peasant—just as a mysterious Marquise comes into the picture. Lisette Oropesa and Lawrence Brownlee start in Donizetti's opéra comique.

Military might meets aristocratic delight in this stylish production of Donizetti's masterful opera, which blends instantly hummable melodies and flag-waving anthems with innocent romance and plenty of slapstick faux pas. Among all the vocal acrobatics, perhaps the most famous is the show-stopping "Ah, mes amis (Ah, my friends)", sometimes dubbed the "Mount Everest" of arias, requiring the tenor to sing a succession of nine high Cs!

Marie is no ordinary canteen girl—she was orphaned on a battlefield and adopted by a squadron of French soldiers she affectionately calls her fathers. All grown up, this spunky young woman is in love with strapping Tonio, a peasant who once saved her life but is still woefully forbidden to ask for her hand. Adding to this troublesome snafu, a mysterious Marquise from Marie's past has come to whisk her away and raise her as a proper lady. Facing a future of high-society fashions, classical ballet lessons, and a dreaded arranged marriage, what's a tomboy like Marie to do?

"I'm having a blast. It's the most fun I've ever had in a role, at least for the past few years. It's really nice to do something funny." – Lisette Oropesa (Pittsburgh Tribune)

"They need to be nine bull's-eyes. They can't be nine B naturals. But I feel secure. It's an aria I've lived with." – Lawrence Brownlee on the high Cs in "Ah, mes amis" (New York Daily News)

Application Information

Click here to begin your application!

Application Deadline
All applications must be received on or before Wednesday, October 5, 2016.

Teacher recommendations must be received on or before Monday, October 10, 2016.


  • High school students in the greater Washington, DC area interested in exploring opera
  • Must commit to attending all events; contact with concerns
  • Past participants are welcome to reapply

Application Requirements
Students must submit an online application form including three short essay questions, a teacher recommendation, and a $6.00 application fee. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Full instructions, including the essay question topics, can be found by clicking the application link above. Contact with questions or concerns.

Program Fees

Application fee: $6.00
Program fee: $40.00 (includes all events and meals on October 22, October 29, and November 5)
Need-based scholarships are available. Contact with inquiries.

What is the WNO Young Associates experience like?

"The program allowed me to see the world of the music, theater, and art profession. This glimpse into the daily life of an artist helped me better create short and long-term goals." —WNO Young Associate

"Putting together a production like this with so many moving parts (literally) is amazing to see." —WNO Young Associate

"I appreciate the opportunity this program gives. There aren't many, if any, programs that give high school students such an in-depth behind the scenes look at how a professional opera is prepared." —Parent

"The program further confirmed my desire to pursue opera as a career and helped me figure out what I have to do during university to achieve my goals." —WNO Young Associate

"I learned many good tips regarding auditions and possible business jobs in the arts (non-performing arts jobs)." —WNO Young Associate

"I had a great time and would suggest this to anyone who is seriously interested in a career in opera!" —WNO Young Associate

"My whole opinion on college and that I HAVE to be sure of what I'm going to do has changed." —WNO Young Associate

"I learned about being on time, basically being in the professional world in music." —WNO Young Associate

"I think I understand the amount of preparation and dedication from all aspects of production that go into a professional arts company." —WNO Young Associate

Program Expectations

Attendance: Students selected for the program are expected to attend all events in their entirety. Please make appropriate scheduling and travel arrangements for attendance in advance. If an unavoidable conflict arises, students must contact WNO Young Associates staff as soon as possible prior to the start of the event. At the staff's discretion, students may be dismissed from the program without refund if advanced notice of an absence is not provided or if the student misses multiple events. Failure to attend events and to communicate effectively with staff regarding attendance may affect students' ability to participate in future WNO Young Associates programs and events.

Arrival: Most sessions are held in restricted-access areas for which late entrance is impossible or disruptive. As such, students must arrive no later than 15 minutes before the beginning of each event in order to check in and be escorted to the event area. Students who have not arrived by that time may not be permitted to enter event/rehearsal areas, and staff may not be available to wait for them.

Conduct: Participants are expected to respect the needs of the Washington National Opera rehearsal process, its artists, and staff; to conduct themselves with professionalism at all events; and to comply with all reasonable requests. No food or drink is permitted in the rehearsal areas. Students must turn off cell phones during events. No photos, audio recording, or video recording of rehearsals, WNO staff, or artists are permitted.

Communication: As a pre-professional program that aims to help students prepare for college and careers, students are expected to fully participate, with parental guidance, in all program communications as a way to practice and prepare for the professional world.  Students are expected to regularly check email and phone messages for program communications and to respond in a timely fashion. Students who have difficulty accessing email on a regular basis should contact program staff immediately to work out alternate arrangements. Parents will be copied on all program emails.



Click here to begin your application

Daughter of the Regiment Photo by David Bachman

2016-2017 WNO Young Associates will get an insider's look at WNO's stylish new production of Donizetti's masterful opéra comique,The Daughter of the Regiment, starring Lisette Oropesa and Lawrence Brownlee.


Contact us at
or (202) 416-8846.

Download a copy of the brochure