Houston Grand Opera Announces 2023-24 Sarah and Ernest Butler HGO Studio Artists

By Logan Martell

Houston Grand Opera has announced the 2023-24 Sarah and Ernest Butler HGO Studio Artists.

Following an extensive global search, four artists have been selected as first-year Butler Studio artists: mezzo-soprano Ani Kushyan, tenor Michael McDermott, pianist Marco Rizzello, and tenor Demetrious Sampson Jr.

Six artists have also been chosen as returning Butler Studio artists. They are: sopranos Meryl Dominguez and Renee Richardson, mezzos Emily Treigle and Erin Wagner, baritone Navasard Haobyan, and pianist Michelle Papenfuss.

Artists were selected from the company’s annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers Concert of Arias, held on February 23. HGO recently announced the creation of a new fund within the HGO Endowment, valued at $22 million, by Sarah and Ernest Butler. Selected artists reside in Houston from mid-August to May, developing their skills and receiving performance opportunities within mainstage productions.

“It has been a very exciting year for the Butler Studio, and we are thrilled to welcome this incoming group of artists to HGO,” says Butler Studio Director Brian Speck. “Their passion for the art form is truly inspiring, and we are confident that they will not only uphold but also elevate HGO’s productions next year. We look forward to watching their careers grow and flourish on our stage, bringing new life and energy to this timeless art. We are committed to providing them with the necessary support and guidance to succeed in a highly competitive industry, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for these exceptional talents.”