The Potions of Love: Bel Canto Arias and Ensembles

Loading Events

Join us for a pre-show reception at 6PM!

The Potions of Love: Bel Canto Arias and Ensembles
featuring Brittany Smith and Juan Hernández
with Samual Keeler, Michael Leyte-Vidal, Derrek Stark, and Patricia Westley
Rachelle Jonck and Derrick Goff, pianists
Steven Tharp, coach

Six emerging artists join Bel Canto Boot Camp for an evening of beloved Bel Canto Scenes & Arias. Selections from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore ground the recital with performances by South African soprano Brittany Smith, and Puerto Rican tenor Juan Hernandez.

Brittany Smith and Juan Hernandez come to the series summer residency through the joint efforts of Guild Hall and Bel Canto Boot Camp. Prior to their arrival in East Hampton, they will participate in BCBC’s training program in New York City in preparation for their role debuts of Adina and Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. Following their residency at Guild Hall and the East Hampton recital they leave for Cape Town where they will rehearse with the rest of the local L’elisir d’amore cast before embarking on a 10-city tour of South Africa. The summer residency marks be

Miss Smith’s first visit to and performances in the U.S.A. Cape Town Opera presents Mr. Hernandez in South Africa for the first time.

The program also includes scenes and duets from the kings of Bel Canto, Rossini and Donizetti, and Italian art and folk songs.


The Guild Hall & Bel Canto Boot Camp Resident Artist Series is a collaboration between the Learning + Public Engagement department at Guild Hall of East Hampton and Bel Canto Boot Camp. With the shared values of creative authenticity, artistic development, and community engagement, the Series supports an emerging generation of opera singers. By providing individualized training from Bel Canto Boot Camp mentors and masterclasses with international artists, the series aims to support a new generation of emerging opera singers and to increase awareness and appreciation of the unamplified voice. 

The 2022 Season will include intimate recitals with tenor Jack Swanson, a program of scenes and arias in collaboration with Cape Town Opera South Africa, and baritenor Michael Spyres in concert, featuring his favorite bel canto arias and songs. He invites Resident Artists who will be in training at Guild Hall to join him in operatic ensembles giving our audiences the opportunity to see the stars of today and tomorrow in performance together.

COVID-19 Protocol: For indoor programs, all guests over the age of 12 must provide proof of full vaccination. WEARING FACE MASKS IS ENCOURAGED AND APPRECIATED.

  • Juan Hernández

    Puerto Rican Tenor Juan Hernández Mercado began his professional singing career with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra in 2012, and has since been part of many local and international productions in the US and abroad. In the 2019 season, he was selected to be a Bailey Apprentice Artist at Palm Beach Opera and a Young Artist at Opera Saratoga. Role credits include: Corentin in Dinorah (Amore Opera), Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia (Accademia Lirica Uberto Giordano), Gastone in La traviata (Accademia Lirica Umberto Giordano), Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro (International Festival Il Ponte), L’arithmétique in L’enfant et les sortilèges (Opera on the Avalon), Goffredo in Rinaldo (Vocalpedia’s Vozarteum), Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte  (Conservatorio de Musica de P.R).

    Recent awards include: Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions District Encouragement Award (2019), NATS NYC District Competition First Place (2019), Opera on the Avalon Audience Choice Award (2015).

    He began his Music Studies at the Escuela Libre de Música Ernesto Ramos Antonini, Alma Mater of some of the most recognized Puerto Rican artists. After graduating with Honors, he continued his training in Vocal Performance at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of the late William Woodruff. Juan is currently a voice student of Raymon Geis.

  • Samual Keeler

    Samual Keeler, tenor, has been hailed for his “rich tenor” (Culpepper Times) and  “strong vocals and crisp, clear delivery” (DC Theatre Scene). His most recent performances include Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata, Frederic in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, Sam Kaplan in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, Don Curzio & Don Basilio in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, and Lurcanio in Handel’s Ariodante. He keeps a regular performance schedule as a soloist in the greater Philadelphia region. Keeler is a graduate of the Maryland Opera Studio at University of Maryland, College Park.

    Photo: Kristin Dahl

  • Michael Leyte-Vidal

    Bass-baritone Michael Leyte-Vidal is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music with a Master of Music in Classical Voice. Previous credits include Der Richter in Martha, the Marchese d’Obigny in La traviata, and Gregorio in Roméo et Juliette, as well as appearing as Bartolo and Figaro in scenes from Le nozze di Figaro, John Proctor in scenes from The Crucible, and Un ballo in maschera (Sam). Before studying opera Michael was active in musical theater where he performed in Sweeney Todd (Judge Turpin, cover Sweeney Todd), Cabaret (Ernst Ludwig), Evita, and Ragtime, among other professional credits.

    Photo courtesy of the artist.

  • Brittany Smith

    Cape Town Opera soloist Brittany Smith holds a BMus in Opera from the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town. Under the tutelage of Professor Virginia Davids, she started her solo singing career at

    the university in the role of Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro (2016) followed by Adele in AGL Opera’s production of Die Fledermaus. Brittany’s awards include the 2013 Ruth Ormond Prize for the Most Promising First Year UCT Female Opera Student, the 2016 Schock Foundation Opera Competition Female Classical Winner, and a nomination for the 2017 Fleur du Cap Award for Best Female Opera Singer for her Pamina in Cape Town Opera’s production of The Magic Flute. Brittany joined the Cape Town Opera Young Artist Program in 2018, and premiered as Norina in Don Pasquale, a collaboration between Cape Town Opera and the UCT Opera School. In May 2019, she sang the role of Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, and in 2020 Despina in Così fan tutte. In 2021 at Artscape Opera House she sang Gretel in Cape Town Opera’s Hänsel und Gretel for which she received a Fleur du Cap nomination, Leïla in The Pearl Fishers, and Magda in La rondine. 2022 will see her perform the role of Susanna in Cape Town Opera’s Le nozze di Figaro.

    Photo: Kayla Demi Pietersen

  • Derrek Stark

    Hailed by Opera News for his “handsome sound,” and described as a “standout” by the Wall Street Journal, tenor Derrek Stark is quickly establishing a reputation as an elegant performer with nuanced and stylish singing. Despite many COVID-19 cancellations, Mr. Stark returned to the stage for the 2020-2021 season with a house premiere at Opera Tampa singing Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Following these successful performances, Mr. Stark repeated the role with Eugene Opera later that summer. In 2022, Mr. Stark returned to Eugene Opera singing Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, made a house debut with Gulfshore Opera singing Alfredo in Die Fledermaus, and reprised the role of Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi with Opera Tampa.

    This summer, Mr. Stark will sing as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, and will be heard as Rodolfo in La bohème at the Bar Harbor Music Festival. Previous season highlights include the Italian Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier with Opernhaus Zürich, Alfredo in La traviata with Palm Beach Opera, and Arturo in La straniera with Teatro Nuovo at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He has also been heard as Giasone in Medea in Corinto, Rodolfo in La bohème, The Governor in Candide, Harry in La fanciulla del West with Santa Fe Opera, Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, and Fenton in Falstaff.

    Equally at home in concert repertoire, Mr. Stark has performed with the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, the Boise Philharmonic, the Orchestra of Saint Luke’s, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in repertoire ranging from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, to Orff’s Carmina Burana and Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle. Mr. Stark won second place in the Giulio Gari International Voice Competition, third place in the Opera Columbus Cooper-Bing Competition, 3rd place in the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, and is a 2018 Sullivan Foundation Grant Winner. He has also received an encouragement award from the Gerda Lissner International Voice Competition, a Campbell/Wachter Scholarship from Santa Fe Opera, and a Bel Canto Vocal Scholarship Foundation award. Stark is an alumnus of many prestigious training programs including Santa Fe Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Bel Canto at Caramoor, and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He holds a B.M. from Mansfield University, PA, and a M.M. from The Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University.

    Photo: Hank Henley 

  • Patricia Westley

    Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle as a “hugely impressive artist” who sings with a “deep velvety tone” and “sparkling vivacity”,  New Zealand-American soprano Patricia Westley is a former fellow of the Atkins Young Artist Fellowship at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. In June 2022 Patricia made her debut at Teatro la Fenice as First Niece in Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes. Recent engagements include Giulietta in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi and Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hansel & Gretel with Palm Beach Opera, a world premier as Selena in Jake Heggie’s If I Were You, Elisa in Mozart’s Il re pastore with Merola Opera Program, soloist debuts with the Oakland Symphony and the Pacific Symphony, a recital series with Opera Santa Barbara, and a Schwabacher Debut Recital with Martin Katz at the San Francisco Opera. Patricia is a two time participant in the Merola Opera Program, Palm Beach Opera’s Benenson Young Artist Program, first place winner of the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation Competition, Winner of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition NYC District, and an alumna of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Oklahoma.

    Photo: Alexander Jane Studios

  • Derrick Goff

    Derrick Goff is an alumnus of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and has returned as member of the MET music staff. He has enjoyed many years of collaboration at Teatro Nuovo, a continuation of the young artist program of Bel Canto at Caramoor, where he is resident as a coach, chorusmaster, and Italian teacher. In addition to his work as a pianist, coach, and conductor, Derrick holds degrees in organ and voice from Westminster Choir College, and is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music.

    Photo: Jiyang Chen

  • Rachelle Jonck

    Rachelle Jonck received her musical training at the Conservatory of the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. In her native country she was awarded a FNB/Vita award for her contribution to opera in South Africa and the Nederburg Opera Prize – South Africa’s premier opera award.

    Rachelle moved to New York City as Head Vocal Coach and Assistant Conductor of Bel Canto at Caramoor. Her private coaching studio includes established professionals whose careers take them to the largest opera houses of the world, and younger singers still on the verge of a professional career. Her master class topics, while related to her main study field of bel canto, explore the wider application of the bel canto way of singing.

    Photo: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

  • Steven Tharp

    Missouri-born tenor Steven Tharp’s operatic credits include performances with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Netherlands Opera, among many other houses. Handel and Mozart are well represented in Mr. Tharp’s repertoire of more than 60 operatic parts, and his keen interest in 18th- and early 19th-century opera has led to many roles in operas of Gluck, Haydn, Scarlatti, Conti, and others. In concert, Mr. Tharp has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra, among others. His concert repertoire includes the Bach, Mozart, Handel, and Haydn masterpieces of the 18th and 19th century and extends to Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, Schönberg’s Gurre-Lieder, the Verdi Requiem, and Britten’s War Requiem. A dedicated song recitalist, Mr. Tharp has appeared at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the 92nd Street Y, Carnegie’s Weill Hall, venues in Europe, Japan, and South America. His interest in musical theater and cabaret led to his appearance in 3 Tenors in Search of an Act in a sold-out run at Don’t Tell Mama in New York. Steven has recorded for Decca, Delos, Newport, Albany and Naxos, earning a Grammy Award nomination. He has also served as stage director for the Manhattan School of Music and for Caramoor. He lives in Columbia, Missouri with his adorable Westie, Hector, and is Associate Professor of Voice at the University of Missouri. 

  • Bel Canto Boot Camp


    Bel Canto Boot Camp was born during the pandemic when we reached out to singers around the world – singers who had no place and seemingly no reason to sing. To be honest, we needed to find a way to feed our own souls as well while we were cut off from music making – something we never even considered could possibly happen. We created The Vaccai Project – a unique online training course for singers. Just short of two thousand singers from America to South Africa, from Columbia to Russia practiced together for the day when stages would be open to them again and theaters would be filled with audiences. We discovered a beautiful new way to support singers – beautiful in its inclusivity, its expansion of the richness of the New York opera community to artists all over the world, the breaking of often prohibitive barriers of distance, cost, time and audition-only programs.

    Now, as the world continues to emerge from Covid-19, Bel Canto Boot Camp strives to support artists in the physical world as we did (and continue to do) virtually. Our ability to work in person with singers is now supported by an online platform allowing us to stay in contact when we cannot be there physically. Additionally BCBC allows singers, teachers, and presenters to network effectively with each other in the ever growing BCBC community.


Principal Sponsor: V. Atkins Foundation

Additional support: Dr. Ralph Gibson, in memory of Andy Jacobyansky, who generously shared his passion, knowledge, and support for the opera 

Theater Programming supported in part by The Schaffner Family Foundation and funding from The Melville Straus Family Endowment. Music Programming is supported in part by The Ellen and James S. Marcus Endowment for Musical Programming.

Learning & Public Engagement programming is supported by The Patti Kenner Arts Education Fellowship, The Hearthland Foundation, Stephen Meringoff, Susan and Stephen Scherr, and funding from the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Endowment Fund, and The Melville Straus Family Endowment.

Become a Sponsor