Born into a family of musicians in 1998 in Palermo, Floriana Cicio is now a Studio Artist at the Mascarade Opera Studio.
Floriana studied classical singing from 2011 with Elizabeth Smith. She is the winner and finalist of a number of international singing competitions (Archimede di Siracusa, Alcamo, Placido Domingo di Valencia, Benvenuto Franci di Pienza, A. Belli di Spoleto, Magda Olivero).
She made her debut with the Fondazione Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana in Beethoven’s Egmont Op.84 with Aldo Ceccato and in the roles of Serpina in La Serva Padrona, Clorinda in La Cenerentola and Countess of Ceprano in Rigoletto. She has also performed the role of Ocsana / Zarina in La notte di Natale by A. Cara in the world première at the Opera Giocosa in Savona and Pavarotti in Modena.
In 2019 she attended an advanced opera course at the Teatro Comunale Luciano Pavarotti in Modena. In May she made her debut singing Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Europe Philharmonic Orchestra in Todi conducted by Maestro Ezio Bosso. She is a graduate of the DAMS faculty of Palermo.
After reading Classics at St John’s College, Cambridge, British tenor Xavier Hetherington did his Master’s at the Royal College of Music as a Their Serene Highnesses Dr Prince Donatus and Princess Heidi Von Hohenzollern scholar. He graduated in 2020 with distinction and is now a Studio Artist at the Mascarade Opera Studio in Florence, Italy, thanks to the generous support of the King-Farlow Trust and Mr and Mrs Anthony Bolton.
Xavier has enjoyed several years of concert and opera singing in the United Kingdom and abroad singing at halls such as St John Smith Square and Wigmore Hall and with conductors such as Dame Jane Glover, Robin Ticciati, John Lubbock and Rafael Payare.
His recent operatic engagements include Orfeo in Monteverdi’s l’Orfeo at the Minack Theatre Cornwall, Torquemada in the RCM’s production of Ravel’s L’heure Espagnole and singing in the Glyndebourne chorus in the festival of 2019.
In 2020, Xavier was set to make his debut at The Grange Festival, Hampshire singing Theseus in Jonathan Dove’s The Monster in the Maze and the role of Castor in Rameau’s Castor et Pollux with Hampstead Baroque conducted by Jonathan Williams. The global pandemic caused these productions and much else to be postponed until 2021 when Xavier and the world of live music intend to be back in full force.
Lithuanian mezzo-soprano Gabrielė Kupšytė is currently a Studio Artist at the Mascarade Opera Studio in Florence.
She graduated with honours in Vocal Studies from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (LMTA). She holds an Advanced Diploma in Opera from the Royal Academy of Music, London (RAM) where she studied with Elizabeth Ritchie and Jonathan Papp. She is extremely grateful for the generosity of the Carr-Gregory Trust Scholarship.
Gabrielė has won numerous national awards in her home country and has a broad background as a soloist and choir member. Recent operatic performances with Royal Academy Opera include: the title role in Massenet’s Chérubin, Prince Athamas in Semele, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier (Opera Scenes), The Dog in The Cunning Little Vixen, and La chatte / L’écureuil in L’enfant et les sortilèges.
She is the winner of the Isabel Jay Memorial Prize competition (RAM) and a CLC Music Section Student award (City of London). Gabrielė attended the Georg Solti Accademia in 2019, where she worked with Roberto Frontali, Barbara Frittoli and Richard Bonynge.
Polish baritone Paweł Trojak was born in 1994. He is currently a Studio Artist at the Mascarade Opera Studio having graduated from the Fryderyk Chopin Music University in Warsaw, where he studied with Jadwiga Rappé. He is also a member of the Opera Academy at the National Opera – The Grand Theatre in Warsaw. He is a laureate of over 20 vocal competitions, including the first prize at the 2019 International Antonina Campi Vocal Competition, the first prize at the 2018 Bell’Arte Competition. He is a scholar of the Polish Ministry of Culture, Hans and Eugenia Jütting Foundation and the Jerzy Semkow Foundation.
Paweł made his Polish National Opera debut in April 2017 as Jonek in Jan Stefani’s The Supposed Miracle or Kracovians and Highlanders. In June 2018 he returned to sing Le Dancaïre in Carmen.
In 2018, he participated in the Young Singers Project of the Salzburg Festival where he made his debut as the Second Nazarene in Salome. In June 2019 he sang Papageno in Die Zauberflöte at the Warsaw Chamber Opera.
Among the many orchestras with which Paweł has worked are the Vienna Philharmonic, the SWR Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio.
Greek-American mezzo-soprano Polixeni (Xeni) Tziouvaras is from Santa Barbara, California. She is 24 years old and after completing her graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music, was selected to join the Mascarade Opera Studio in Florence for the 2020/21 academic year.
Recent credits include Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Chautauqua Institute, Ralph Vaughn Williams’ Serenade to Music at Carnegie Hall, and Signora Guidotti in I due timidi, Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea all at the Manhattan School of Music.
Xeni has received many awards, most recently the Meche Kroop Encouragement Award (Premiere Opera Foundation/NYIOP, 2019) and the Richard F. Gold Career Grant (Shoshana Foundation, 2019). She was a semi-finalist in the Eleanor McCullum Competition (Houston Grand Opera, 2020) and a finalist in the 2019 Mildred Miller Voice Competition. Recent engagements include Maddalena in Verdi’s Rigoletto as an Apprentice Artist with Central City Opera.
Henry Websdale is a répétiteur, conductor and organist living in Florence. He is currently a Studio Artist répétiteur at the Mascarade Opera Studio. He graduated with a double first-class degree in music from the University of Cambridge, and then worked as a répétiteur fellow at the Royal Academy of Music.
In the summer of 2020, he was a répétiteur and assistant conductor for The ReGeneration Festival’s production of La Cenerentola (Rossini) in Florence, after which he participated in the prestigious Solti-Peretti répétiteur course in Venice. During his time at Cambridge, Henry was the senior organ scholar at King’s College, where he accompanied the college choir live on radio for the annual service of Nine Lessons and Carols, as well as on BBC Television for Carols from King’s and Easter from King’s.
He has appeared in concerts at the Sydney Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Seattle Symphony, Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Washington National Cathedral, and many other venues across the world.
He has played with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Britten Sinfonia, the BBC Concert Orchestra (live on Radio 3), the Academy of Ancient Music and the BBC Singers (also live on Radio 3). In 2021 he looks forward to working as a répétiteur on Die Zauberflöte (Mozart) and Káťa Kabanová (Janáček) at the Glyndebourne Festival and appearing in Germany, Switzerland and Italy with the Mascarade Opera Studio.
American Soprano Alexandria Wreggelsworth recently received an Artist Diploma from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD) and is now at the Mascarade Opera Studio in Florence.
Most recently, Alexandria has performed roles such as Nella in Gianni Schicchi (Lunchbreak Opera); Euridice in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (Oxford Opera Society); Tatyana in Eugene Onegin (The People’s Opera and Oxford Alternative Orchestra).
Other performances include Mimì in La bohème (Cyprus Opera Studio); the soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem (London Dockland Singers); and the title role in Suor Angelica (Lunchbreak Opera in London and Love to Sing Opera in Provence).
Alexandria has also performed in several concerts, including an array of song recitals at GSMD, the Barbican Centre, Oxford University, Song in the City and the St Marylebone Festival.
Currently a Studio Artist répétiteur at the Mascarade Opera Studio, pianist Kristina Yorgova graduated with a master’s degree in Music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where she studied with Prof. Petras Geniusas and Prof. Fali Pavri.
She was a finalist at the 8th Stasys Vainiunas International Piano Competition in Lithuania. Kristina also won the Bach Prize for organ, piano and harpsichord in Glasgow. She was selected to be the RCS representative at the Intercollegiate Beethoven Sonata competition in the UK.
Kristina has performed as a soloist with the Lithuanian Chamber orchestra, RCS symphony orchestra and the Stara Zagora and Vidin orchestras in Bulgaria. She has played recitals in venues across Europe including Bulgaria, Belgium, France, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, and Russia.
Kristina is passionate about working in collaboration with singers, her most recent duo being with mezzo-soprano Svetlina Stoyanova, currently pursuing a career at the Vienna State Opera.
Scottish mezzo soprano Lauren Young is a recent graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Alexander Gibson Opera School (RCS), where she studied with Linda Ormiston OBE. She is a Studio Artist at Mascarade Opera Studio in Florence for the 2020/2021 season.
Lauren was the winner of the Clonter Opera Prize and Joaninha Trust Award in 2020, and holds an Independent Opera Scholarship and Fellowship. She was runner up in the Ye Cronies Opera Award in 2019 and 2020. Lauren enjoys a close collaborative relationship with pianist José Javier Ucendo, whom with she was a finalist in the Oxford Lieder Young Artist Platform 2020, Leeds Lieder Young Artists 2020 and won the Elgar-Spedding Memorial Lieder Prize at RCS. Operatic experience includes Baba The Turk (Cover) The Rake’s Progress; Angelina (Cover) La Cenerentola (British Youth Opera); Lucretia The Rape of Lucretia; La Prieure Dialogues des Carmélites; Zita (Cover) Gianni Schicchi; Sorceress Dido and Aeneas; Jade Boucher Dead Man Walking; Cherubino Le nozze di Figaro (RCS); Erste Mägde Elektra; Flosshilde Das Rheingold (Edinburgh Players Opera Group); Dorabella Così fan tutte; Romeo I Capuletti e i Montecchi; Giovanna Seymour Anna Bolena; Meg Page Falstaff; Kate Julian Owen Wingrave (RCS Opera Scenes).
Concert experience includes Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle; Durufle Requiem; Handel Dixit Dominus, Israel in Egypt, Samson; Bach B Minor Mass, Johannes Passion, Magnificat; Haydn Nelson Mass, Paukenmesse; Pergolesi Stabat Mater. Upcoming engagements include covering at English National Opera in 2021 and her Cadogan and Wigmore Hall debuts.
Puerto-Rican tenor Ángel Vargas graduated with a master’s degree from Rice University. He recently completed his second season with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist.
In his first season with the company, Ángel sang in the world première of Huang Ruo’s An American Soldier. For the 2019-2020 season, he was cast in the roles of Royal Herald and Count Lerma in The Dallas Opera’s production of Don Carlos. He has also debuted as the Duke in Rigoletto at Resonance Works in Pittsburgh.
During the summer, Ángel made his debut at Santa Fe Opera singing the Gamekeeper in Rusalka. As a fellowship recipient at the Aspen Music Festival, he sang Spalazani in Les contes d’Hoffmann.
Ángel was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Puerto Rico District) and a finalist at the Gulf Coast Regionals. Ángel is now a member of the Mascarade Opera Studio in Florence for the academic year 2020/21.
With a compact city centre, Florence is easy to travel around on foot, and is well connected to other cities in Tuscany, Italy and further afield by rail.
Finding somewhere to live in a new city or country can be difficult, and while we don’t have campus accommodation, we offer support in finding accommodation for our Studio artists.
In particular, if there are any additional requirements you need of your accommodation – for example, an accessible or family-friendly apartment – that would impact on your decision to apply to audition, please get in touch to discuss how we can be support you on [email protected]