Austin Opera Resident Stars
Austin Opera’s new Resident Stars program highlights gifted Austin-based artists during the season. Resident Stars will have opportunities to perform in Long Center productions and community events as well as serve as teaching artists for in-school programs. Later this season, the Resident Stars will be featured in an annual showcase for a live audience. Additional opportunities include master classes and training in a wide range of arts administration topics. Meet the 2023-2024 Season Resident Stars!
Audrey Ballish, soprano
Audrey Ballish is a soprano based in Austin, Texas. In 2021, she won the Tulsa District and received an Encouragement Award at the Midwest Region of Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Her notable stage credits include Younger Alyce in Glory Denied, Soprano 1 in Hydrogen Jukebox with Boston Conservatory Opera, Susanna and Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro with Bay View Music Festival, Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica with Berlin Opera Academy, and Lisette in La Rondine at Oklahoma City University. Additionally, she has sung the role of Norina in Don Pasquale, Le Feu, La Princesse, and Le Rossignol in L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, and Laurie in The Tender Land at Oklahoma City University. Audrey holds a Master of Music in Opera Performance from Boston Conservatory at Berklee and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and a Bachelor of Music in Music Theater from Oklahoma City University.
Kate Bass, soprano
Kate Bass, originally from Anchorage Alaska, now based in Austin, Texas, performs internationally in many varying musical genres ranging from classical, musical theater, and jazz, to her own pop and folk-inspired original music. She has appeared on stage as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, at Carnegie Hall, as well as on and off-Broadway for Emmy and Tony Award-nominated productions. She has recorded for numerous film scores with music by Arturo Cardelús, David Stone Hamilton, and others; her voice was recently featured in award-winning films at both the Austin Film Festival and the Milan International Film Festival. Kate was also the soprano soloist for Iranian singer and setar player Hafez Nazeri’s Grammy-nominated SONY Worldwide release of Untold with the Rumi Symphony.
As a singer-songwriter, Kate has four albums released; her first single aired on international radio in 2013. She has performed her music to sold out crowds all over the world, and has been hailed by the press as “easy to love,” “infectious,” and “one of the best vocalists on the scene today.” Her latest, entirely self-made album, Quarantine, was written, recorded, and released in March 2020 from her apartment in Los Angeles.
Kate has taught on the vocal faculty at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where she also worked as a Musical Director for Pepperdine’s musical theater department. She leads vocal masterclasses and songwriting workshops around the globe for organizations such as the Girl Scouts, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Classical Singer Magazine, and American Voices.
Kristin Bilodeau, soprano
Coined as a “clear, well-produced soprano” (San Diego Story), and praised for her “beautiful singing” (The Theatre Times), Soprano Kristin Bilodeau brings clarity and nuance to the stage. Kristin has performed with esteemed companies such as Grammy Award winning ensemble Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Odyssey Opera, MassOpera, Opera Del West, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, The Gena Branscombe Project, Masterworks Chorale, Boston LandMarks Orchestra and Gilbert & Sullivan Austin. Kristin has travelled across the nation and internationally with Young Artist Programs including Miami Music Festival, Opera NEO, and Oberlin in Italy. Making a rise in the competition scene, Kristin was named a Grand Finalist in the Piccola Opera NH Opera Idol Competition and a Regional Finalist in the Talents of the World International Voice Competition. Kristin’s most notable roles have included Rosalinda (Die Fledermaus), Micaela (Carmen), Governess (Turn of the Screw), Monica (The Medium), First Lady (The Magic Flute), Laurentia (The Beautiful Bridegroom), and Kitty Hart (Dead Man Walking). Kristin has loved immersing herself into the Austin classical scene, and is thrilled to be brining opera to the masses as a co-founder of the acclaimed non-profit organization Austin on Tap (Austin). She can also be seen on Sundays as a Choral Scholar with her beloved church choir at UBC Austin. Kristin received her Master’s of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music and her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music.
Willie Casper, tenor
William (Willie) Casper is a native, and now gain, Austin based tenor. He grew up surrounded by the art and music of his parents and sister. Though shy in his early years, Willie coincidentally opened up on the stage throughout his upbringing.
During his time at the Boston Conservatory, Willie performed the roles of Le Chevalier in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, Tenor in Philip Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox, Younger Thompson in Cipullo’s Glory Denied, as well as Prologue Tenor in Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw.
Willie attended Seagle Music Colony this past summer where he performed the roles of Don Curzio in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and Andrew Hanley in Kevin Putz’s The Manchurian Candidate.
Willie reprised the role of Younger Thompson in Painted Sky Opera’s production of Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied in January of 2020. That summer, Willie was contracted to sing at Opera Middlebury and Opera Maine, but both were cancelled due to Covid-19. Willie most recently made his Austin debut in the role of Malcolm in Opera for Earth’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth.
Willie obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance at Mannes College of Music and his Master degree in Opera Performance at the Boston Conservatory.
Spencer DesChenes, mezzo-soprano
Spencer DesChenes is a mezzo-soprano from Wilmington, North Carolina, with a Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She has performed with the Fletcher Opera Institute as a chorus member in Massenet’s Werther, Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, and Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix. In addition, she sang the roles of Epicene and Prison Matron in their production of Volpone by John Musto, and Mrs. Malaprop in The Rivals by Kirke Mechem. She has also appeared in the chorus for the Piedmont Opera’s productions of Suor Angelica by Donizetti and La Traviata by Verdi. New to the city, Spencer is excited to be working with the Austin Opera in their 2023 season.