Manhattan Opera Studio is an opera company founded with the mission of performing operas of the classical standard repertoire in the most prestigious venues of New York City. Our musical philosophy is inspired in the old italian belcanto school that gave birth to a golden generation of singers. We look for the best available artists to sing the works, as we also are in the search of new talent which we look forward to help in their development to become part of the new voices of the international opera world.
Born in Paris, France, Benoit Renard studied orchestral conduction under the guidance of Edouard Lindenberg from 1969-1973 and with Sergiu Celibidache from 1974-1975. He also studied with Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg and Leonard Bernstein in Tanglewood after obtaining the “Villa Medicis Hors les Murs” scholarship that allowed him to continue his studies in the U.S.A.
He was invited by Leif Segerstam to conduct the Finish Radio Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Radio of Vienna (ORF) and the Ludwigshafen orchestra in germany.
Mr. Benoit Renard was assigned by the Ministry of Culture in France as assistant conductor to Jean Fournet at the National orchestra of Ile de France and as assistant conductor to Jean-Claude Casadesus at the National Orchestra of Lille.
In South America he was appointed main conductor of the San Juan Opera Orchestra in Argentina. He also conducted the national orchestras of Santiago (Chile), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Mendoza (Argentina) and Teatro Argentino de La Plata.
In collaboration with some of the most outstanding composers of nowadays Mr. Renard conducted recordings of works of Mauricio Kagel, Jacques Lenot, Xavier Darasse, Nicolas Bacri and Michael Levinas among others.
Mr. Renard was one of the organizers of the Operalia singing competition with Frederique Pfeffer and Placido Domingo. He conducted the National Orchestra of the Opera of Prague for the finals of the Placido Domingo Operalia Competition in 1993 at Palais Garnier, discovering talents like Inva Mula, Nina Stemme, Kwangchul Youn and Jose Cura.
Stage Director - Acting Coach
Lecturer in Voice and Opera. A stage director, Mr. Verzatt maintains an active career directing opera, operetta, and musical theater throughout the United States, South America, and Europe. He began his theatrical career as a dancer with the Metropolitan Opera after studying drama at Rutgers University and ballet with New Jersey’s Garden State Ballet. After several seasons as a soloist with the MET Ballet, he left to continue his education in production as a stage manager with the Cincinnati Opera and Pittsburgh Opera companies.
He made his professional directing debut with a production of Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann with Opera Columbus. He has since directed productions with the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and the opera companies of Fort Worth, Lake George, Madison, Arizona, Toledo, Atlanta, Kansas City, Baltimore, Idaho, and Mississippi.
He joined the faculty of Yale University’s School of Music Graduate Opera Program, where he directs the Acting and Movement workshops. He has directed several Yale Opera productions, including Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (in which he appeared in the role of Puck) for Orchestra Verdi in Milan, as well as the programs mainstage productions, including a new production of “I Capuleti e i Montecchi” in February 2013. In 2005 he was engaged by the Metropolitan Opera for a speaking role in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. In 2006 he was named Outstanding Stage Director of the Year by Classical Singer magazine.
Conductor - Vocal Coach
Pianist/Coach Ming Kwong is very active in the world of opera. In the fall of 2012, he played the NYC auditions for Aspen Opera Theater and Glimmerglass Opera besides being invited back to play for Portland Opera. He is well-known for his ability to adjust tempo, give singers time to breathe and help them through a phrase in a totally unrehearsed situation. He was engaged as a faculty coach at one of the fastest-growing summer programs in North America — Opera on the Avalon in Newfoundland, Canada in summer 2012. Ming is regularly engaged by the Metropolitan Opera Guild as well to accompany their master class series.
His past credits include an assistant coach position at Glimmerglass Opera, Tanglewood Music Center (assisting Maestro James Levine on Don Giovanni), and an apprenticeship with Florida Grand Opera for their 2008-2009 season. He was also a faculty coach at the CoOPERAtive program in New Jersey during summer 2011 where colleagues included Anthony Manoli, Thomas Bagwell and William Hobbs. He held a fellowship coach position at the Aspen Summer Music Festival and was a vocal pianist at the prestigious Music Academy of the West, where Marilyn Horne chairs the program. Mr. Kwong was the Music Director of the Undergraduate Opera Theater at Manhattan School of Music and has also worked with Maestro George Manahan on Cosi fan tutte.
Equally at home in operatic repertoire and recital, Ming Kwong made his Kennedy Center (D.C) debut with Metropolitan Opera Competition Grand Winner Lori Guilbeau. He was chosen to work with Martin Katz and Craig Rutenberg in the renowned Cleveland Art Songs Festival in 2010. Other credits include performing on the Stephanie Blythe master class at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Joey Reynolds show – WOR news talk radio 710HD in October 2009.
Mr. Kwong has been a prizewinner of numerous competitions, including First Prize in the Advanced Improvisation and Second Prize in the Advanced Bach Session in the 12th Hong Kong (Asia) Piano Open Competition.
Ming Kwong holds a Masters degree in Piano Accompanying from Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Warren Jones, and a Masters degree in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory.
Conductor - Vocal Coach
Keith Chambers, Assistant Conductor at Dallas Opera, recently served as Assistant Conductor of New York City Opera and Director of the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Emerging Artist Program for Opera New Jersey. He is past faculty of the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program and the RESONANZ Festival and former Artistic Director of The Living Opera and Chorus Master/Music Director of Shreveport Opera. He has been praised by the Dallas Morning News for the “taut and carefully scaled playing” of his orchestra, and the Asheville Citizen-Times wrote that “it is easy to see why the conductor Keith Chambers is in demand.”
Highlights of the 2012-13 season included leading performances of Un giorno di regno for the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program and conducting the workshop premiere of The Turing Project for American Lyric Theater. During the 2011-12 season, he conducted The Poe Project for American Lyric Theater as part of Opera America's New Works Forum, made his Carnegie Hall debut conducting Die Zauberflöte and conducted Felsenfeld's Nora, In The Great Outdoors for American Opera Projects at Lincoln Center. Mr. Chambers also conducted Tosca and Cavalleria rusticana for Martha Cardona Opera Theater.The 2010-11 season began with Ariadne auf Naxos at Toledo Opera and continued with leading a production of Gianni Schicchi for the Martha Cardona Opera Theater in New York City. For Opera Saratoga, he led a gala performance of Tosca. Mr. Chambers began the 2009-10 season with Falstaff at Toledo Opera and continued with Carmen at Opera New Jersey in February. Mr. Chambers began a regular association with Seattle Opera in March with a production of Ariadne auf Naxos and serving as guest faculty for the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program. In 2008-09, Mr. Chambers conducted performances of Roméo et Juliette for Asheville Lyric Opera in October and continued with Rigoletto at Toledo Opera. He conducted The Station for the inaugural performances of Sugar Land Opera and concluded the season conducting Tosca for Amarillo Opera. He immediately began his tenure as Music Director for the Connecticut Opera Young Artist Program and as Director of the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Emerging Artist Program for Opera New Jersey. In 2009, Mr. Chambers established an Apprentice Coach program as part of the critically acclaimed festival at Opera New Jersey. An accomplished pianist, Mr. Chambers has appeared as concerto soloist with the Delaware Symphony, Clear Lake Symphony, Naples Philharmonic, and Houston and Miami with conductors including Erich Kunzel and Maurice Peress.
Sophie has 19 years of experience in the professional care of the voice. She has been working with singers of the international scene as well as with beginners in many cities. After training as an Orthophoniste in Lyon (France) under the celebrated Guy Cornut, she practiced in Paris for 11 years, at her own private practice as well as at Elizabeth Fresnel’s Laboratoire de la Voix, along with collaborating with other leading laryngologists of Paris and Lyon as well as with le Choeur de l’Opéra de Paris et l’Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Paris. She established her New York practice in 2008. Her clients include performers at l’Opéra de Paris, Salle Pleyel (Paris), the Berlin Philharmonic, Le Théâtre de la Monnaie (Brussels), the Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelone), the Theater an der Wien, the Opera City Concert Hall and the Hakuju Hall (Tokyo), the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the Carnegie Hall, the Avery Fisher Hall, the Vivian Beaumont Theater, at Santa Fe Opera House, at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival, at the Opera Faber Festival (Portugal), and in jazz festivals and clubs (Nagoya Blue Note, Japan…) throughout the world.
Her clients also include students from the Manhattan School of Music, from the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera and from Poly Prep High School in Brooklyn.
A singer herself, in France with le Choeur de l’Orchestre de Paris and in New York with the Dessoff Choirs, Sophie treats the entire artist — singing voice and speaking voice, performer and person — because all aspects are part of the instrument. Combining several approaches for a safe learning environment, she efficiently works with specific needs of each individual client. She tailors her vocal approach in order to maximize positive results. She also helps singers with French diction.
Artistic Director - Assistant Conductor
Assistant Conductor Carlos Tagle started his piano studies with Adela Barroso and composition with Irma Urteaga. He studied orchestral conduction in the Pontifical Catholic University of Buenos Aires under the guidance of Antonio Formaro. He later specialized in vocal studies in the Franz Liszt Conservatoire of the same city and studied vocal technique under the guidance of Luciana Serra in Lugano, Switzerland and Mirella Freni in Modena, Italy. He has furthered his studies in italian diction with Giovanna Gavanizza in Genova, Italy.
Mr. Tagle furthered his studies in vocal repertoire with Richard Barker (Vocal coach at la Scala di Milano) and Vincenzo Taramelli (Vocal coach at Teatro Carlo Felice di Genoa). He has been assistant conductor to Benoit Renard since 2009, participating in both operatic and symphonic productions.
Carlos Tagle has been artistic director for Manhattan Opera Studio, producing operas such as Suor Angelica, The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni and Ariadne auf Naxos.