Information for the 2024 Summer Opera Workshop is still being updated. Check back soon for more details!

Summer Opera Workshop

July 7-21, 2024

Mary Baker Russell Music Center | James Brown, Director

Our Summer Opera Workshop will present Mozart’s Don Giovanni (in Italian with piano) on Friday, July 19 at 7 pm and Sunday, July 21 at 2:30 pm and an evening of song on Saturday, July 20 at 5 pm.

This workshop allows participants to engage in movement, acting and vocal study with faculty members. Opera and operetta scenes will be rehearsed in the afternoons for a culminating performance at the end of the workshop.

Interest Form:

If you are interested in participating in the workshop please fill out the Interest Form linked here. The Interest Form will be available beginning November 16 at 8am and will close to further submissions on May 31 at 11:59pm.

Interest form deadline: May 31, 2024 at 11:59 pm

Registration Form:

Dr. Jim Brown will contact you by email with the Registration form link after you have submitted your Interest form. Payment of $450 is due during registration; an Activity Participation & Medical Release Form will also be required. These forms will be available beginning May 1 at 8 am.

Registration form deadline: June 15, 2024 at 11:59 pm

Housing Information:

Information for on-campus housing will be made available beginning May 1. If you require on-campus housing please submit your request by the deadline listed above.

Pricing for housing is as follows:

  • Private bedroom in a shared apartment with linen: $58.50 per person, per night
  • Private bedroom in a shared apartment without linen: $56.50 per person, per night

Please complete the On-Campus Housing Form by the deadline: May 31, 2024 at 11:59 pm


The Magic Flute by W. A. Mozart (July 2021)
Liederabend (July 2021)


Don Giovanni: Friday, July 19 at 7 pm & Sunday, July 21 at 2:30 pm

Evening of Song: Saturday, July 20 at 5 pm

Enjoy the livestream by clicking here!

Workshop Faculty:

James Brown – Workshop Director and Conductor

James Brown enjoys an eclectic career of singing, teaching, stage direction and conducting. His work has been seen at Vashon Opera in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (stage director and conductor), Madama Butterfly (stage director) and Carmen (stage director and conductor,), Eugene Onegin (conductor) and Cosi fan tutte (stage director, conductor and arranger). Other recent productions as stage director include Handel’s Semele (PLU Opera), La Boheme (Bellevue Opera) and a critically acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd (Lakewood Playhouse). Upcoming productions for James include PLU Opera’s Le Nozze di Figaro (conductor), Previn’s A Streetcar named Desire (conductor and stage director), and La Traviata (conductor and stage director) with Vashon Opera, and Boito’s Mefistofele with Pacific Northwest Opera.

As a singer, James has distinguished himself on the opera and concert stage. James has sung with Il Festival dei due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, New Orleans Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pacific MusicWorks, Rogue Opera, Skylight Opera Theatre and Tulsa Opera.

The tenor has appeared with Seattle’s world-renowned community of early music specialists in concerts and operas at Seattle’s Town Hall, St. James Cathedral, Intiman Theatre and the Moore Theatre. At the Moore Theatre, James performed in Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria with Tony award winners Handspring Puppet Company with music direction by Stephen Stubbs and stage direction by internationally celebrated artist William Kentridge. James has appeared as concert soloist at the Aspen Music Festival, Ravinia Festival (Steans Institute) and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. He has performed the tenor solos in Messiah with the Tacoma Symphony and Mozart’s Requiem with Central Washington University.

James is the Chair of Vocal Studies at Pacific Lutheran University where he directs the opera and oversees a large voice program. Brown’s students have gone on to study at the University of Arizona, Indiana University, The Juilliard School, University of Michigan, Oberlin Conservatory and Yale University.

James holds degrees from Loyola University/New Orleans, The Juilliard School and the State University of New York at Stony Brook with additional studies at The Academy of Vocal Arts.

Barry Johnson – Stage Director, Voice Instructor and critically acclaimed baritone

Barry Johnson, baritone, has attracted national attention among leading conductors, directors, and opera companies as a versatile singing actor. Creator of more than 50 opera roles, Mr. Johnson is a frequent guest with companies throughout the country including Seattle Opera, Tacoma Opera, Opera Colorado, Anchorage Opera, Portland Opera, Central City Opera, Las Vegas Opera, and the Wildwood Festival in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Marriage of Figaro, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Marcello in La Boheme, Dancairo in Carmen, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Masetto in Don Giovanni, Prince Ottokar in Der Freischutz, Baron Douphol in La Traviata, Angelotti in Tosca, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Fleville in Andrea Chenier, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, and Jupiter in Orpheus in the Underworld. Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Rachmaninoff’s The Bells, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Frahm’s War Cantata, Bach’s Magnificat, Mozart’s Requiem, and Faure’s Requiem. The Merry Widow, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica.

Janeanne Houston – Voice masterclasses

Soprano Janeanne Houston has been praised by the Seattle Times as a “radiant voiced and very communicative” singer, by Gramophone as “Unfailingly responsive and dedicated”, by Classical Voice of North Carolina as a “magnificent singer” with “a beautiful voice and stunning interpretive skills” and The Journal of Singing remarked “such praiseworthy singing” and “a flawless sense of style.”

A versatile singer, Ms. Houston has sung most of the major oratorios from Bach to Verdi, and many symphonic, contemporary works, and world premieres. She is also at home on the opera stage, and as a concert artist and recitalist has performed throughout the region and across the country.

Her recent opera roles have been Madame Lidoine in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Lia in Debussy’s L’Enfant Prodigue, Elisabetta in Don Carlo, Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Konstanze in Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio. Other recent performances include Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Oregon Symphony, multiple performances of Verdi’s Requiem in the region, including a performance at Benaroya Hall and one with Bainbridge Symphony and Chorale. That work is among her favorites. She sang Poulenc’s Gloria with UW’s legendary Rodney Eichenberger leading the forces in Benaroya Hall. A prolific concert artist, she has sung for the nearly century-old Messiah Festival of Music and Art in Kansas where she sang Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, recitals, and performances of Handel’s Messiah. As a regional artist, she has appeared in many performances of Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, Brahms’ A German Requiem, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, Haydn’s Creation, and world premieres. She sang the Mater Gloriosa in the first Oregon performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Eugene Symphony in 2002, conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Her career launched with notable performances at Seattle Symphony (Gerard Schwarz), Oregon Symphony (James DePreist), Northwest Chamber Orchestra (Sidney Harth), Northwest Sinfonietta, Spokane Symphony, Great Falls Symphony, Helena Symphony, and many others. Previous operatic roles have included Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Violetta in La Traviata, Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites, and Micaela in Carmen.

Her recordings are available on Naxos, Albany, and the Elmgrove labels. She was a finalist and a second-place winner in the Northwest Regional Metropolitan Opera auditions. Born in Kansas City, Ms. Houston spent her childhood in Myanmar, India, and the Philippine Islands. Blooming where she landed, she has been a member of the voice faculty at Pacific Lutheran University since 1989. Her students have excelled, and many are now singing professionally and teaching the next generation. She has been the master class instructor for PLU’s Summer Opera Workshop, and she loves working with young singers.

Amy Boers – Staff Pianist

Amy Boers is well known as a collaborative pianist, music director, singer, and church musician.

As pianist and collaborator, she currently holds positions at Pacific Lutheran University (staff pianist), Symphony Tacoma (principal keyboard), and Symphony Tacoma Voices (pianist and assistant rehearsal conductor). Her work at Pacific Lutheran University is varied between accompanying the acclaimed Choir of the West, accompanying and coaching private voice students, team-teaching numerous theater classes, and most recently she was named Music Director for productions in PLU’s Theater & Dance program, including Amélie, music revues Off Broadway, and When You Wish Upon a Star, and Jasper in Deadland (Spring 2024).

Amy is frequently asked to collaborate and perform with world-renown conductors and elite ensembles at NWACDA, Washington ACDA, NAfME, and WMEA conventions. Recent notable collaborations have been with Jason Max Ferdinand, Brian Edward Galante, Jace Saplan, Jonathan Talberg and Rosephanye Powell (Summer 2024).

Amy works as a collaborative pianist with many State Solo & Ensemble winners, both instrumental and vocal. She travels regularly as a collaborative artist with choirs throughout Europe, performing most recently in Portugal, Spain (Symphony Tacoma Voices 2023), Estonia and Latvia (Symphony Tacoma Voices and University of Washington Choirs 2019).

As a conductor, in addition to her music directing, Amy has led regional honor choirs and coached developing choral conductors from across the Western Hemisphere at the annual Cascade Conducting Workshop in Tacoma, WA. As a true collaborative artist known for her deep insight and “getting inside the conductor’s head,” Amy provides feedback through the special lens of accompanist, singer and conductor combined. She has led pedagogical workshops for choral conductors and collaborative artists regionally and in Canada. Her recent session “The Power of Two” focused on collaborative rehearsal techniques to develop between conductor and pianist. Presented at the 2024 Northwest American Choral Directors Association regional convention, she received rave reviews and requests for repeated presentations.

As a church musician, she has been a long-time voice in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. She has been contributing editor for both the keyboard and choral divisions of the Sundays and Seasons resource published by Augsburg Fortress (now 1517 Media); served on the Board of Directors of Lutheran Summer Music, the nation’s premier faith-based music academy for high school students; and now acts as an ambassador for the program. Amy has served many congregations since 1995, and currently is co-Minister of Music at Grace Lutheran Church with her husband Geoffrey.

In addition to her keyboard artistry, she is an active singer both recording commercial music and performing live. She treasures singing with Musing, a beautiful project-based treble ensemble, as well as her vocal collaborations in the studio with local composers and singers. She is currently in the midst of recording vocal tracks for an upcoming album of new arrangements of traditional gospel songs and hymns, as well as new compositions in this genre.

When not making music, she loves to garden, cycle, and travel with her family. Most important to her at this time is spending time with her three beloved grandchildren, Adler, Jack, and Holden.

For Questions:

James Brown, Professor of Music – Voice; Coordinator of Vocal Studies
School of Music, Theatre & Dance; Pacific Lutheran University
(253) 535-7614 e-mail:

Abby Deskins, Coordinator of Educational Outreach Programs
College of Professional Studies; Pacific Lutheran University
(253) 535-7877 e-mail: