Lesley Resident Artists
A discovery and training program for emerging young opera singers, the Lesley Resident Artists program offers professional experience to exceptional performers every year. This group of highly talented and driven young opera singers is selected through a nationwide audition process. Contracted for one or two seasons, they come to Fort Worth Opera to work for a professional opera company in order to further or launch their performance careers.
While in Fort Worth, Lesley Resident Artists will sing at various community, donor, and social events, perform recitals, and receive voice lessons, language and diction coaching. They will also participate in masterclasses with established artists and agents brought in by Fort Worth Opera, to foster their artistic development and provide fresh perspectives on the business of singing.
Meet Our Lesley Resident Artists
Praised for her “big, beautifully projected voice with an attractive edge and sparkle” (Arts Knoxville) soprano Adia Evans is quickly establishing herself as an up-and-coming talent in the opera and concert world. A recent 2021 graduate of the University of Tennessee, Evans was featured at the university as Adina in their production of L’elisir d’amore, Laetita in Old Maid and the Thief, Ms. Dara in Dan Shore’s An Embarrassing Position, and Dater #22 & #23 in a new virtual production of Michael Ching’s Speed Dating Tonight. Evans also worked with Knoxville opera companies, covering Annie in Marble City Opera’s world premiere production of Frank Pesci’s Royal Flush and covering Nedda in the company’s Pagliacci. Evans was also featured as La Zia in Knoxville Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly. This past November she performed the role of Bastienne in Bastien und Bastienne with University of Illinois Springfield.
In spring 2021, Evans graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville as part of the Knoxville Opera Studio. Evans holds a Bachelor of Music degree from University of Maryland College Park and is a proud alum. of the Baltimore School for the Arts. Evans is now a 2021 -2022 Resident Artist with Opera Columbus, where she covered the titular Tosca and will cover Mary Johnson in Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers. Evans will also perform the roles of Vanqui in Leslie Burrs’ Vanqui and Lucy in Fellow Travelers with Opera Columbus and will compete as a finalist in the Lewisville Lake Symphony International Competition in March 2022. She will spend the summer as a young artist with the Merola Opera Center where she will play First Lady in Die Zauberflöte and be featured in the exciting concerts throughout the festival.
Quoted as having “…[V]ocal strength and theatrical finesse” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), tenor Nathaniel Catasca has recently made his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut portraying Nemorino/ Tamino in the children’s production of The Magic Victrola. Previously, Mr. Catasca finished his Studio Artist contract for Florentine Opera Company’s 2021/2022 season. During this time, he performed the roles of Matteo Borsa in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Javier Moreno in Torroba’s Zarzuela Luisa Fernanda, Le Comte Barigoule in Viardot’s Cendrillon, Arithmitique/ The Tree Frog in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, among many other recitals and concerts. Nathaniel was due to cover the role of Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème before its cancellation.
Having worked with companies such as Hawai’i Opera Theatre, Florentine Opera Company, and Finger Lakes Opera, Nathaniel is honored to be an Apprentice Artist with Central City Opera playing the role of Dr. Blind in Die Fledermaus by Strauss in the 2022 season. Mr. Catasca is also very excited to be working with Fort Worth Opera as the tenor Lesley Resident Artist in their 2022/2023 season. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Oklahoma, and a Master of Music & Literature from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Robert Swensen.
Mezzo-soprano, Kaswanna Kanyinda, has been praised for her dramatic presence, vocal warmth, and as a “talent to keep a sharp lookout for.” In the height of the pandemic lockdown, she played the role of Flosshilde in Michigan Opera Theatre’s Twilight: Gods. In 2019, Kaswanna received the Wilde Award for her performance as the Mother in Opera MODO’s production of The Consul. Prior to that, Kaswanna joined Pittsburgh Festival Opera as a member of their 2018 Mastersingers Program, won the Opera Guild of Charlotte competition in 2017, and earned her masters’ degree in 2016 from the University of Michigan, under the tutelage of George Shirley. There she was featured in the workshop premiere of Bright Sheng’s The Dream of the Red Chamber, and was honored to represent Michigan in performance at the Kennedy Center. During her undergraduate studies at UNC Chapel Hill, she was cast in La Clemenza di Tito, Highway #1 USA, and Gianni Schicchi, and had the opportunity to perform the national anthem for President Barack Obama. A North Carolina native, she currently resides in the Detroit area, and studies with Dr. Louise Toppin. She will be playing the role of Girlfriend #3 in Toledo Opera’s production of Blue and will be joining Spoleto Festival for the world premiere of Omar, an opera by Rhiannon Giddens this summer, before joining Fort Worth Opera in Fall of 2022.
Malcolm Payne, Jr.
Malcolm Payne Jr. (he/him) is a University of North Texas graduate from Blytheville, Arkansas. Recent engagements include Taste of Misbehavin’ (Dallas Metroplex Musicians’ Association), John Proctor in The Crucible (Berlin Opera Academy), and Jim in Porgy and Bess (Fort Worth Opera). Payne is a former artist of The Dallas Opera's Educational Outreach Program and a current Fort Worth Opera Hattie Mae Lesley Resident Artist. He was recently featured in a new musical production Simon of Cyrene as Jesus, Voces Intimae’s Soul Songs, Fort Worth Opera's A Night of Black Excellence, Voices of Flower Mound's Old Time Religion concert, and Music Ministry Conservatory's concert performance of The Magic Flute as Papageno. Payne is also an acclaimed flute player who has been featured with Mansfield Philharmonic, Fort Worth Opera, The University of North Texas Opera, and several choral ensembles throughout Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Upcoming performances include Curtis Taylor Jr. in Dreamgirls (Jubilee Theatre) and Count Ceprano in Rigoletto (The Dallas Opera).