Information for next year’s 2020 Summer Opera Workshop will be updated as soon as it becomes available.  Check back later for updated information.  Thank you!

2019 Summer Opera Workshop

June 23 – July 7, 2019

The Pirates of Penzance by Arthur Sullivan
and a Cabaret Evening – Songs from the Great American Songbook

Jim Brown and Barry Johnson, stage directors; Sheila Bristow, music director

Dr. James L. Brown, Workshop Coordinator

Our Summer Opera Workshop will present Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance and a Cabaret Evening – Songs from the Great American Songbook, which will consist of staged lieder, melodies, and art song.

Apply for this exciting opportunity. Summer Workshop fee: $475

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

Application Deadline: May 30, 2019

To be considered for acceptance in the Summer Opera Workshop, you must first submit an application form and either mail it or fax it to the attention of the Summer Opera Workshop with your resume (optional) by May 30, 2019.  Your application will be reviewed and you will be notified of your acceptance to participate in the Summer Opera Workshop.

Acceptance Notification:  June 1, 2019

A letter of acceptance will be e-mailed or mailed to you.

Registration / Deposit ($275) Deadline: June 1, 2019

After you have received confirmation of acceptance into the Summer Opera Workshop, please complete the Summer Opera Workshop registration form and mail it with a non-refundable deposit of $275.  Also include the Activity Participation & Medical Release Form.

Final Payment: Due June 23, 2019

Balance ($200) due.

Contact the Pacific Lutheran University Music Department / 253-535-7602 / for more information.



James L. Brown

Stage Director, Chair of Vocal Studies and Director of Opera at PLU 

James L. Brown enjoys an eclectic career as a singer, voice teacher, conductor and stage director. James is the Chair of Vocal Studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA where he oversees a large and diverse voice program. As the director of PLU Opera, he has been the recipient of several grants including a Regency Scholarship Grant and a Production Grant from the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music in New York, NY. He holds degrees in voice from Loyola University, The Julliard School, and The State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Brown’s singing has been praised by Opera News and Early Music America. He has sung with such opera companies and presenters as New York City Opera, New Orleans Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Bronx Opera, Rogue Opera (Oregon), Chautauqua Opera, Seattle Early Music Guild, Pacific Musicworks, Skylight Opera Theatre (Milwaukee), Aspen Opera Theater and The Spoleto Festival in Spoleto, Italy. The tenor has sung roles under the baton of such well-known conductors as James Conlon, John DeMain, Richard Hickox, Julius Rudel and Robert Spano and early music directors Rinaldo Alessandrini, Arthur Haas, Andrew Lawrence King and Stephen Stubbs.  Upcoming opera appearances include roles in the Seattle Early Music Guild’s L’amfiparnaso at the Moore Theatre.

James has introduced many world premieres in the last several years, among which are: Scott McAllister’s Mercury on the Moon, Russian composer, Vladimir Ryabav’s The Border Between Light and Darkness, Sheila Silver’s The Thief of Love (recently released on DVD), Jack Beeson’s The Equilibrists and Mexican/American composer Riccardo Zohn-Muldoon’s Comala at the museum of the Teatro de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.  As a concert soloist, James has appeared at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Seattle’s Town Hall, Harris Concert Hall at the Aspen Festival, The Ravinia Festival in Chicago and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. James sang the title roles in New York State Baroque’s productions of Rameau’s Pygmalion, Handel’s Jephtha and Bach’s St. John Passion (Evangelist).  James has performed often with Seattle’s renowned early music community: including operas with the Early Music Guild, and Pacific Musicworks – including their acclaimed 2010 performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 in Seattle’s St. James Cathedral. Upcoming appearances include Il Girello with Northwest Puppet Theatre and a performance of Bellman songs for the Scandinavian Society.

Recent productions have included stage direction for HMS Pinafore and Sweeney Todd for Lakewood Playhouse, stage direction for Verdi’s Don Carlo and La Boheme with Bellevue Opera, stage direction/conductor for Il barbiere di Siviglia and Carmen and stage director for Madama Butterfly for Vashon Opera. At PLU, James has directed Handel’s Semele and L’Orfeo (Stephen Stubbs, music director), Die Fledermaus, Albert Herring, L’enfant et les Sortileges and Street Scene. Upcoming productions include Eugene Onegin (conductor) and Cosi fan tutte (conductor/stage director) for Vashon Opera.


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 Instructor and critically acclaimed 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.”  One of the region’s busiest artists, she has worked under the batons of many fine conductors including,  Gerard Schwarz, James DePreist, Sidney Harth, Dean Williamson, Charles Bontrager, Christophe Chagnard, Fusao Kajima, British conductor Hilary Davon Wetton, Richard Sparks, and Miguel Harth-Bedoya, with whom she sang the Mater Gloriosa in the first Oregon performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in 2002. Her recent opera roles have been Elisabetta in Don Carlo in 2010, Countess Almaviva in Nozze di Figaro for Helena Symphony in 2009, and Konstanze in Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio for Tacoma Opera in November of 2005.  Other recent performances include Tacoma Symphony’s performance of Rachmaninov’s The Bells, multiple performances of Verdi’s Requiem, Mahler’s Symphony No. Four with Orchestra Seattle, Lake Union Civic Orchestra’s  Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Carmina Burana with Choral Union and Rainier Symphony, Messiah with the Helena Symphony, Bellevue Philharmonic, and Messiah Festival in Kansas, and for Bremerton Symphony, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, Beethoven’s 9th, and  Brahms’ A German Requiem.

She has been a guest artist with many distinguished choral and orchestral organizations which include Seattle Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Northwest Chamber Orchestra, Northwest Sinfonietta, Eugene Symphony and Opera, Great Falls Symphony, Helena Symphony, and Spokane Symphony.  Among the works she has performed most frequently are the Verdi Requiem, the Brahms Requiem, Haydn’s Creation, Poulenc’s Gloria, and Mozart’s Mass in C-Minor.   She sang the role of Mary with the late Jerome Hines near the end of his career, in his Biblical opera I am the Way and has also shone in other operatic roles which include Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Violetta in La Traviata, Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites, and Micaela in Carmen.   At this point in her career, she is focusing primarily on roles in the Verdi repertoire and the more dramatic roles of Mozart.

An active recitalist, she has been a featured artist on numerous concert series programs and music festivals, including  2001 and 2009 residencies  for the prestigious Messiah Festival of Music and Art in Lindsborg, Kansas. In the fall of 2007, she did a recital tour in New York State where she premiered a song cycle that she commissioned from North Carolina composer Dan Locklair.  She also performed works by composers Lori Laitman, Simon Sargon, Carol Sams, and a premiere by Welsh composer, Hillary Tann.  Her interest in performing the music of living composers has become a passion, and she has had several cycles written for her.  She sang the premiere of a work titled Remembrance by Judith Lang Zaimont with Portland Symphonic Choir in the fall of 2007. In 2007, she was featured on a Naxos release of orchestral works by composer Dan Locklair. She sang a triptych for soprano and string orchestra titled Lairs of Soundings, based upon texts by Northwest poet, Ursula Le Guin. The work was recorded with the Slovak Radio Orchestra in Bratislava, Slovakia, with Kirk Trevor conducting.   A recording for Zimbel Records titled Songs of the Cotton Grass features Ms. Houston with oboist Shannon Spicciati performing the cycle of the same title by Welsh composer Hilary Tann. In January 2006, Ms. Houston released a new recording of world premieres by living composers titled The Shining Place (Elmgrove Productions) Other recordings include The Irish Songs of Sir Hamilton Harty (Deogloria), So Great a Joy 2001, Living Mysteries 2002, and So Much Beauty 2004 (Elmgrove Productions).   Later that year her work as singer and executive producer was featured in two 12 minute chamber works for soprano on the Albany Records release Chamber Works of Dan Locklair.    Her recordings have been broadcast on radio stations across the country, and were featured on the syndicated NPR program With Heart and Voice and on New Releases from Minnesota Public Radio.  Her written progress/goal reports for her 2002 recording were featured in Classical Singer Magazine. Her discography includes recording premieres of songs by Richard Hundley, Lori Laitman, Simon Sargon, J. Mark Scearce, Dan Locklair, David Burge, Hilary Tann, Carol Sams, Edwin Penhorwood, and Paul Moravec.

Ms. Houston has been a finalist and a second place winner in the Northwest Regional Metropolitan Opera auditions, and won a Crystal award in the Scammon vocal competition in Denver in 2002. Born in Kansas City, Ms. Houston spent her childhood years in Myanmar, India, and the Philippine Islands. She received her education at Ottawa University and the University of Washington, and is presently a member of the voice faculty at Pacific Lutheran University.  She is the founder and Managing Member of Northwest Artists, a musicians’ collective management, and is the owner/founder of Elmgrove Productions.


Sheila Bristow 

Tacoma Opera Coach and PLU Opera Music Director

Sheila Bristow is a versatile keyboardist active in the Tacoma area. She has accompanied several Tacoma Opera productions and coached their 2009 and 2010 young artist programs. As coach/accompanist at Pacific Lutheran University, Ms. Bristow coached Die Fledermaus and Albert Herring and provides studio and recital accompaniment. She has accompanied many vocal recitals, opera workshops, and Seattle Opera previews, and also performed as a continuo player with Tacoma Opera, Seattle Academy of Baroque Opera, Seattle Pro Musica, and Concerto Baroque. Ms. Bristow studied music composition as a Kreielsheimer Scholar at Cornish College of the Arts, and received her MM in organ performance from the University of Washington, where she was a student of Carole Terry. She serves as Organist/Choirmaster for the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Kenmore.


Kristin Burch

Choreographer and Dance Instructor

Kristin Burch is overjoyed to return to PLU and the Summer Opera Workshop!  A proud PLU Alum, she earned a BFA in Theatre, with an emphasis in Acting and Directing (Class of ’07).  During her time at PLU, she studied voice with Dr. Brown, sang in The Choir of the West, and performed in multiple Opera Workshops.  She is now a professional singer, dancer, actor, choreographer, dance teacher, fitness instructor, and is a proud card carrying member of Actor’s Equity.  Burch’s performing career began early – at the age of four.  Throughout her childhood she trained extensively in dance, music, acting, and gymnastics, and often worked in stage, modeling, film and television.  Now as an adult, Kristin is thrilled to be working both on and off the stage.  Some of her favorite roles include playing Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, Nancy in Oliver, and Petra in A Little Night Music.  In 2017, she was a cast member in the National Tour of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  Last June, she played Frolika in The 5thAvenue Theatre’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which also included performances by Choral Union, under the direction of Dr. Richard Nance.  Burch has often appeared on the 5thAvenue stage, most recently as a Young Groupie in Rock of Ages.  She is so excited and honored to be working with such talented and hardworking students this Summer!


Summer Opera Workshop


Please complete the Summer Opera Workshop application form and submit it with your resume (optional) by May 30, 2019.  Your application will be reviewed and acceptance notification will be sent via e-mail around June 1, 2019.


Application Form


Summer Opera Workshop
Pacific Lutheran University
Department of Music
1010 122nd St South
Tacoma, WA 98447
Fax Number: 253/535-8669


Acceptance Notification: June 1, 2019
Notice of acceptance will be e-mailed by June 1, 2019. Upon receipt of acceptance, you can register for the Summer Opera Workshop


Summer Opera Workshop

Dr. James L. Brown, Director

Registration and Payment Process

Participant Fees: $475. After you have been accepted to participate in the Summer Opera Workshop, complete the registration form and the activity participation / medical release forms and return them with your non-refundable deposit of $275.

Please complete these forms on line, print them and mail them with your deposit to

Summer Opera Workshop
Pacific Lutheran University – Music
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, WA 98447

Fax Number: 253-535-8669

Forms needed:

Registration Form

Activity Participation Form and Medical Release Form

Payment Deadlines:

Deposit: $275 Non-Refundable: June 1, 2019

Final Payment: $200 on or before June 23, 2019

On Campus Housing Available: Payment due June 1, 2019.

On Campus Dorm Reservation Form


June 23 – July 7, 2019

Performances will be held in Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on the Pacific Lutheran University campus.

 Good-will offering accepted.

July 5: The Pirates of Penzance by Arthur Sullivan at 7pm
July 6: A Cabaret Evening – Songs from the Great American Songbook at 7pm
July 7: The Pirates of Penzance by Arthur Sullivan at 2pm



From Interstate 5 (North or South)

  • Take exit 127 off Interstate 5 and head east on Highway 512
  • Continue on 512 for approximately two miles
  • Take the WA-7/Pacific Ave exit
  • Turn right on Pacific Avenue S. (heading south)
  • Turn right on Garfield St.
  • Turn right on Park Ave S.
  • Turn left on 121st St S.
  • Turn left on 8th Ave S.
  • The Mary Baker Russell Music Center should be right in front of you (building 19).


You can use Google Maps to get personal directions.

Pacific Lutheran University is located seven miles south of downtown Tacoma Washington at the intersection of Garfield Street S. and Park Ave S.

On Campus Housing Available: Rates are subject to change. To learn more about on-campus summer housing: On Campus Dorm Reservation Form

  • Rates:
  • Traditional Single Occupancy: $57.75 per person / per night

Other Lodging

Pacific Lutheran University is located seven miles south of downtown Tacoma Washington at the intersection of Garfield Street S. and Park Ave S.

Best Western Park Plaza, Puyallup | 888-204-5804 | 253-848-1500

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, Puyallup | 888-465-4329

Hotel Murano, Tacoma | 866-986-8083

Holiday Inn Express, Tacoma | 888-465-4329

Marriott Courtyard, Tacoma | 253-591-9100 | 888-236-2427

Shilo Inn, Tacoma | 800-222-2244

Best Western Lakewood Motor Inn, Lakewood | 253-584-2212 | 800-780-7234


We have numerous restaurants within walking distance including:

Within a mile or so of PLU are: