JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellowship

JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellowship

2019-2020 Applications Now Open

Applications for the next round of fellowships will be accepted through April 15, 2019. See guidelines below for complete information.

About JoElyn Wakefield-Wright

JoElyn Wakefield-Wright
JoElyn Wakefield-Wright

I had one semester of opera direction at Indiana University. I realize how much I could have learned if there had been internships available in opera direction and production. That is why I support our organization’s involvement in education in this field.

JoElyn Wakefield-Wright

JoElyn Wakefield-Wright has been a member of NOA since the 1972 National Conference in San Francisco and has had a long and distinguished career as a performer and educator in opera. She studied at the University of Omaha, Pfeiffer College in North Carolina, and Indiana University where she received her Master of Music degree in Voice Performance with a minor in choral conducting. While at Indiana, Ms. Wakefield-Wright was heard in several roles with IU’s Opera Theater. A two-time Fellow of the Tanglewood Institute, where she worked with Phyllis Curtin and Charles Wilson, additional teachers and coaches included Richard Brewer, Martha Lipton, Oren Brown, and Frank St. Leger. Ms. Wakefield-Wright has served on the faculties of Manchester University in Indiana, Hamilton College, Utica College of Syracuse University, and Syracuse University where she directed the Opera Workshop for many years. Notably the Syracuse University Opera Workshop presented Juan de la Cruz, the winner of the Opera Production Competition, for the 1995 NOA National Conference in Boston. Engagements as a singer include appearances with the Indianapolis Symphony and the Fort Wayne symphony, in addition to many concerts throughout the Midwest region. For NOA, Ms. Wakefield-Wright has held many offices and leadership positions including President from 2006-2008; she has been in attendance at nearly every national conference for close to 40 years.

2019-20 Guidelines

Application deadline is April 15, 2019.

Julia Mintzer
Julia Mintzer, 2017 Stage Director Fellow,
at work at Charlottesville Opera

The National Opera Association's JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellowship provides funding to aspiring Opera Stage Directors as they begin their careers. This Fellowship is open to Music or Theater graduate students, or early career post-academics, with an interest in Opera Stage Direction. The Fellowship winner will receive the following:

  • A Fellowship stipend towards application, tuition, travel, and/or housing to any opera stage director program between April 2019 and March 2020 (multiple awards of up to $1000 are possible)
  • If the applicant has not been offered a contract at a program, NOA will provide expedited application to one of the many such programs that are run by NOA members.
  • The winner may be offered the opportunity to present in a session at a subsequent NOA National Conference, detailing their experiences.


The person selected will have experience in stage direction and keen interest in opera and working with singers. The Fellow will be at or near the beginning of his/her professional career as a stage director. Those working as Assistant Director or in Production are welcome to apply, however special consideration will be given to those applicants in a mentored program.

Application Materials:

  • Current resumé or CV
  • One letter of recommendation
  • Brief statement of the applicant's professional goals

Please send all application materials to:

Application deadline: April 15, 2019

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jen Stephenson, Stage Director Fellowship Committee Chair, at

Andreas Hager
Andreas Hager, 2018-2019 recipient

Andreas Hager is a director whose work spans opera, film, theatre, and alternate reality games.  He was selected as a JoElyn Wakefield Wright Stage Director Fellow for his summer 2018 work with Wolftrap Opera during which he will assist on productions of Idomeneo and Rigoletto. Recent directing credits include Il barbiere di Siviglia (Houston Grand Opera), Gianni Schicchi (Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music), and La belle Hélène (Opera North). In addition, he has worked with Opera Philadelphia, the New York Philharmonic, Cincinnati Opera, and Opera Columbus. He recently graduated from the Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music with an Artist Diploma in Opera Directing, and has a Bachelor's Degree in Cinema Studies from Oberlin College where he also studied piano performance. He is a winner of Opera America’s Director-Designer Showcase and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.



Kumiko Shimizu
Kumiko Shimizu, 2018-2019 recipient

Kumiko Shimizu has been awarded a JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellowship to participate in Opera Viva’s 2018 Professional Development Program in Verona Italy.  She is professor of music and collaborative pianist at Delta State University in Mississippi.  As a collaborative pianist, she has played for several competitions, including the National Opera Association Vocal Competitions, and has been invited to play at the American Choral Directors Association Conventions, the Mid-South Flute Society Festival, Southeast Regional Tuba Euphonium Conference, William Bennett Summer Flute Academy, among others. She has received these awards: James Ronald Brothers Collaborative Pianist Award (National Association of Teachers of Singing Southern Region), Favorite Professor Award (Mu Phi Epsilon-Gamma Zeta Chapter), and Second Place – Instrumental Performance (American Prize).

At Delta State, Ms. Shimizu teaches collaborative piano, provides vocal coaching and stage direction for the opera/musical theater workshop, and has team-taught in the voice area by co-organizing several projects, such as Japanese Song Recital and Staged Art Song Recital. Since fall 2016, she has been director of the opera/musical theater workshop at the university and her scene repertoire has included selections from Giulio Cesare, Madama Butterfly, Falstaff, and Die Fledermaus, among others. This teaching assignment fostered a renewed interest in stage directing and Ms. Shimizu is very grateful for the support that NOA’s JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellowship will provide as she continues to learn the art of stage directing in summer 2018.

Julia Mintzer was awarded the 2017 Fellowship to support her work at Charlottesville Opera.

Julia Mintzer
Julia Mintzer, 2017 Stage Director Fellow,
at work at Charlottesville Opera

Winner of the National Opera Association’s 2017 Stage Director Fellowship, Julia Mintzer continues her exciting career in 2018 by directing On Behalf of a Madman, produced by Grand Harmonie Period Orchestra at the Sommerville Armory in Boston.  The work is  a political comedy told as an opera pastiche, with music by Mozart, Hadyn, Rossini, and Donizetti and an original book.  Ms. Mintzer curated the musical selections and has written the updated libretto.  More information on this project can be found here:  Ms. Montzere directed the first full staging of Beethoven's Fidelio with historical instruments in the United States with period orchestra Grand Harmonie at Princeton University, listed among Opera News' Noteworthy and Now.  Her production of La Cenerentola for Bel Cantanti Opera was acclaimed as “wildly funny…This production is just the sort of thing that keeps opera alive and relevant.” (  This spring she leads an all-female cast of La Bohème with Metrowest Opera.  Her interactive theater piece Pizza Parlance, in collaboration with artist Charles Ogilvie, was listed in Nombre Art Magazine's "5 Must-Sees of Venice Biennale” and their performance piece Chacun a son gout was presented at STORE Contemporary (Dresden, Germany.)   Julia directed and developed the world premiere of Sissy is to Bassarid at the Helsinki Festival and the performance piece "Well I want it in writing, the smallest event and the secretest agency” at Cornell University’s Society for Humanities.  This summer she will assistant direct Rigoletto at Charlottesville Opera.  Other credits include Dido and Aeneas and The Old Maid and the Thief for Hubbard Hall Opera, Schutz's Weihnachtshistorie with The Weckmann Project and Musica Nuova, Alcina for Satori Opera, Il Tabarro for Garden State Opera, and L'elisir d'amore for Bel Cantanti Opera.  Julia has led seminars on the integration of technique and interpretation at the University of Cologne's Institute for Art and Art Theory and the Bel Canto Summer Program in Munich and has been a guest speaker at Europa-Universität Flensburg.  She has directed scenes programs for the University of Dayton Early Music Ensemble, Opera for Humanity, and the Tanglewood Institute.  Julia is a graduate of The Juilliard School and the Boston University Opera Institute, with additional studies at Columbia University.  As a mezzo-soprano, she has performed principal roles with  Die Semperoper Dresden, Washington National Opera, the Glimmerglass Opera, Florentine Opera, and Dayton Opera, and has been a concert soloist with Boston Baroque, Washington National Cathedral, and the Toledo Symphony.  She is currently a company member at the Landestheater Schleswig-Holstein, where her roles include Carmen, Santuzza, and Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda. For more information, see

Jen Stephenson
Jen Stephenson, 2015 Stage Director Intern,
scene at Druid City

This past summer, the National Opera Association's Stage Directing Internship program afforded me the opportunity to study and work at the Druid City Opera Workshop in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Through this program, founded and directed by Paul Houghtaling, I was able to work with various knowledgeable and talented leaders of our industry who offered me supportive and enthusiastic instruction as I directed several opera scenes performed by emerging professional artists.

I could not have been more thrilled with the program, learning a wide variety of important skills and tools that will be essential to me as I continue to forge ahead in my career. Each of the faculty was engaging and truly passionate about their craft, and all expressed their availability to me to ask questions and advice of them during the program and beyond.

I am grateful for the wonderful experience that I had at the Druid City Opera Workshop, and thankful to the National Opera Association's Stage Directing Internship Program for allowing me the opportunity to work with such a fantastic and dedicated group of professionals!

Jen Stephenson


Joshua Miller
Joshua Miller, 2014 Stage Director Intern

Joshua Miller is currently a doctoral student in the Butler Opera Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Miller studies directing with Dr. Robert DeSimone and is enrolled in the Arts Management Portfolio Program through the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. His current lecture recital thesis is “The Lyric Acting Application of W. Timothy Gallwey’s book The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance.” Miller has served as an assistant director for La traviata (Wolf Trap Opera Company), Les Misérables (ZACH Theatre), Le Nozze di Figaro & Turandot (Austin Lyric Opera). His most recent directing credits include Sweeney Todd (Butler Opera Center), The Rape of Lucretia (Spotlight on Opera), Cesti’s Orontea (UT Early Music Ensemble), Little Women (Spotlight on Opera) and The Magic Flute (Concord University). He also directed “The Pagliacci Project,” a touring outreach opera for Austin Lyric Opera. During the summer of 2014 Miller will assistant direct Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel as a member of The Glimmerglass Festival Young Artists Program.

Joshua worked with the opera program at Texas State University in San Marcus, Texas, and Dr. Samuel Mungo, director of opera studies, served as his mentor.

Emily Martin
Emily Martin, 2013 Stage Director Intern,
at work with Paul Houghtaling

I wanted to thank you so much for the opportunity you gave me with Paul Houghtaling and the Druid City Opera Workshop through the NOA Directing Internship.  It was an incredible experience and I was very thankful to have been a part of Paul’s wonderful program.  The talented singers were very prepared so staging and working with them was rewarding and exciting.  Paul was a great mentor – always available and willing to talk but at the same time letting me explore and express my ideas in my staging.  The collaboration between all of the faculty could not have been more supportive.  I feel as if I have made wonderful connections with these colleagues and I look forward to working with them all again in the future.

Thank you again for this opportunity.  It was truly wonderful.

Emily Martin-Moberley