Washington National Opera Young Associates

Washington National Opera

Program Name

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras diam felis, rutrum nec tincidunt sed, rutrum sed metus. Phasellus sollicitudin ac lacus tincidunt venenatis. Mauris diam erat, vestibulum sit amet laoreet quis, pharetra sit amet purus. Mauris ullamcorper vestibulum quam. Sed faucibus vulputate dui, sed fringilla velit sodales sit amet.

WNO Young Associates provides high school students in the Greater Washington, DC area the opportunity to explore opera as an art form and the many careers possible within the field. Students interested in all aspects of opera and related fields have the opportunity to observe WNO productions at various stages of the rehearsal process and participate in workshops and discussions with WNO staff and artists. The 2019–2020 program will focus on WNO’s production of Samson and Delilah. Participants must attend four of six sessions held on evenings and weekends. Selection process is by application, and students of various ability and experience levels, from beginner to advanced, are encouraged to apply.

Apply Now

About the Program

This program is open to high school students in the greater Washington, D.C. area who are interested in exploring the professional world of opera. Whether your interest is in performing onstage or in the orchestra; designing sets, costumes, or lighting; working behind the scenes; bringing the production and audiences together through public relations and marketing; using art for social change; or any of the various other aspects that go into making opera and related art forms happen; we welcome you to apply!

Participants will get an up close and personal look at how a world class opera company creates a professional production by observing the Washington National Opera throughout several stages of the rehearsal process. In addition, students will have sessions such as exclusive discussions with artists and WNO staff, mock auditions, and private tours of the WNO Costume Studio and the backstage of the Kennedy Center Opera House.

This program is appropriate for students of various experience levels. If you have a curiosity for the arts and a willingness to dedicate your time, you are welcome to apply, no matter if you are already well-versed in the art form, coming to opera from a related field, or if it is a new discovery for you. While not designed exclusively for vocalists, singers of various experience levels interested in deepening their knowledge of opera and classical music are encouraged to participate.

The WNO Young Associates program is designed to help prepare students interested in the arts for college and beyond by providing information about the professional world, allowing them to practice professionalism, and contributing to their ability to make informed decisions and have agency over their futures.

Program Components

  • Rehearsal observations, seeing how a production comes together by observing various stages of the rehearsal process
  • Exclusive discussions providing direct interaction with professionals in the field including creative team members, WNO staff, and artists
  • Behind-the-scenes tours of the WNO Costume Studio and backstage at the Kennedy Center Opera House

Additional, optional events may be added throughout the school year, such as invitations to  other rehearsals, performances, and events related to vocal music and theater

Program Schedule*

The 2019-2020 WNO Young Associates program will focus on rehearsal observations of Samson and Delilah augmented by discussions with artists and additional sessions related to the professional world of opera.

Saturday, February 15, 1 - 5 p.m. – Orientation
WNO Rehearsal Studios in Takoma Park

Wednesday, February 19, 6:30 - 9 p.m.
WNO Rehearsal Studios in Takoma Park

Saturday, February 22, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. 
WNO Rehearsal Studios in Takoma Park

Sunday, February 23, 12 – 4 p.m. 
WNO Rehearsal Studios in Takoma Park

Tuesday, February 25, 6–9 p.m. 
The Kennedy Center

Friday, February 28, 6–9 p.m. 
The Kennedy Center

*Dates and times are subject to change

Participating students must commit to attending 4 of the 6 events. Attendance at orientation is required. Students should plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the beginning of each event to check in and be escorted to the event area. Please note that events take place at both the WNO Rehearsal Studios in Takoma Park and the Kennedy Center.

Program Expectations


Students selected for the program are expected to attend 4 out of 6 events in their entirety. Attendance at the orientation is required. Please make appropriate scheduling and travel arrangements for attendance in advance. If an unavoidable conflict arises, students must contact WNO Young Associates staff as soon as possible prior to the start of the event. At the staff's discretion, students may be dismissed from the program without refund if advanced notice of an absence is not provided or if the student misses multiple events. Failure to attend events and to communicate effectively with staff regarding attendance may affect students' ability to participate in future WNO Young Associates programs and events.


Most sessions are held in restricted-access areas for which late entrance may be impossible or disruptive. As such, students should arrive no later than 15 minutes before the beginning of each event in order to check in and be escorted to the event area. Students who have not arrived by that time may not be permitted to enter event/rehearsal areas.


Participants are expected to respect the needs of the Washington National Opera rehearsal process, its artists, and staff; to conduct themselves with professionalism at all events; and to comply with all reasonable requests. No food or drink is permitted in the rehearsal areas. Students must turn off cell phones during events. No photos, audio recording, or video recording of rehearsals, WNO staff, or artists are permitted.


As a pre-professional program that aims to help students prepare for college and careers, students are expected to fully participate, with parental guidance, in all program communications as a way to practice and prepare for the professional world. Students are expected to regularly check email and phone messages for program communications and to respond in a timely fashion. Students who have difficulty accessing email on a regular basis should contact program staff immediately to work out alternate arrangements. Parents will be copied on all program emails.

What is the WNO Young Associates experience like?

"The program allowed me to see the world of the music, theater, and art profession. This glimpse into the daily life of an artist helped me better create short and long-term goals." 


"I appreciate the opportunity this program gives. There aren't many, if any, programs that give high school students such an in-depth behind the scenes look at how a professional opera is prepared." 


"The program further confirmed my desire to pursue opera as a career and helped me figure out what I have to do during university to achieve my goals." 


"I learned many good tips regarding auditions and possible business jobs in the arts (non-performing arts jobs)." 


"I had a great time and would suggest this to anyone who is seriously interested in a career in opera!" 

Application Deadline

All applications must be received on or before Friday, January 24, 2020. 


  • High school students in the greater Washington, DC area interested in exploring opera
  • Must commit to attending 4 of 6 events; attendance at orientation is required. 
  • Past participants are welcome to reapply

Application Requirements 

Students must submit an online application form including three short essay questions, a teacher recommendation, and a $10.00 application fee. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Full instructions, including the essay question topics, can be found by clicking the application link above. Students who have applied to or participated in the WNO Young Associates program previously are welcome–and encouraged–to reapply.

Program Fees

Application fee: $10.00
Program fee: $40.00 (includes all events and meals)
Need-based scholarships are available.

The Kennedy Center Welcomes All Applicants. 

If you have questions about access or accommodations, you are welcome to contact the Office of Accessibility directly at (202) 416-8727 (voice) or access@kennedy-center.org .


Ashi Day

Manager, Music & WNO Education

(202) 416-8846

Washington National Opera Young Associates

All applications must be received on or before Friday, January 24, 2020.

Major support for WNO is provided by Jacqueline Badger Mars.

David M. Rubenstein is the Presenting Underwriter of WNO.

WNO acknowledges the longstanding generosity of Life Chairman Mrs. Eugene B. Casey.

WNO's Presenting Sponsor


Additional support is provided by Washington National Opera Council.

Kennedy Center Education

Major support for educational programs at the Kennedy Center is provided by David M. Rubenstein through the Rubenstein Arts Access Program.

Generous support is also provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

The content of these programs may have been developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education but does not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education. You should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Gifts and grants to educational programs at the Kennedy Center are provided by A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation; Sandra K. & Clement C. Alpert; Annenberg Foundation; Bank of America; Bender Foundation, Inc.; The Honorable Stuart Bernstein and Wilma E. Bernstein.

Michael F. and Noémi K. Neidorff and The Centene Charitable Foundation; CMA Foundation; DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities; Dr. Gerald and Paula McNichols Foundation; Estée Lauder; Exelon; Ford Foundation; The Gessner Family Foundation; GRoW @ Annenberg and Gregory Annenberg Weingarten and Family; Harman Family Foundation; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; Herb Alpert Foundation; The Isadore and Bertha Gudelsky Family Foundation, Inc.; iTheatrics; The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation; Jim and Heather Johnson; The Karel Komárek Family Foundation; the Kimsey Endowment; The Kiplinger Foundation; The King-White Family Foundation and Dr. J. Douglas White; Natalie and Herb Kohler and Kohler Co.; Laird Norton Family Foundation; Macy's; The Markow Totevy Foundation; Dr. Gary Mather and Ms. Christina Co Mather; Linda and Tobia Mercuro; Little Kids Rock; The Meredith Foundation; The Millennium Stage Endowment Fund; The Morningstar Foundation; 

The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; Myra and Leura Younker Endowment Fund; NAMM Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Newman's Own Foundation; Nordstrom; Oath Foundation; Park Foundation, Inc.; Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; The Irene Pollin Audience Development and Community Engagement Initiatives; Prince Charitable Trusts; Rosemary Kennedy Education Fund; Dr. Deborah Rose and Dr. Jan A. J. Stolwijk; Rosenthal Family Foundation; Mr. and Mrs. Albert H. Small; The Stella Boyle Smith Trust; Target; The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates; The Volgenau Foundation; Volkswagen Group of America; Dennis & Phyllis Washington; Wells Fargo; William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust; and generous contributors to the Abe Fortas Memorial Fund and by a major gift to the fund from the late Carolyn E. Agger, widow of Abe Fortas. Additional support is provided by the National Committee for the Performing Arts.