OperaFest NJ Faculty

Claudette Peterson (Founder / Artistic Director) has been a star at New York City Opera for nine years, singing 15 leading roles there ranging from the title roles in Massanet’s Manon and Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, to Sophie in Werther and Cunegonde in Candide.  She has appeared on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center broadcast of Puccini’s La Rondine and the “Gala of Stars” singing Cunegonde’s aria “Glitter and Be Gay” conducted by James Levine, as well as on PBS’s broadcast of “The Kennedy Center Honors” which honored Beverly Sills.  Miss Peterson also created and recorded the role of Fan in Thea Musgrave’s A Christmas Carol for MMG Records. 

In America, she has sung with major opera companies including San Francisco Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Opera Company of Boston, and Washington Opera. She has been acclaimed for roles ranging from the title roles in Manon, La Fille du Regiment, Lucia di Lammermoor, and The Cunning Little Vixen; to Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore and Gilda in Rigoletto, as well Olympia in Le Contes d’Hoffmann and Adele in Die Fledermaus.  Known especially for her Mozart repertoire, she has been acclaimed for her Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Papagena, Pamina & The Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte, Mme. Silberklang as well as Mme. Goldentrill in The Impressario, Servilia in La Clemenza di Tito, Serpetta in La Finta Giardiniera and Bastienne in Bastien & Bastienne.  Internationally, she received rave reviews in Geneva Switzerland in Offenbach’s Barbe Bleu, and in Nice, France as the title role in Lehar’s The Merry Widow

A superb musical artist, she has collaborated with maestros Julius Rudel, Michael Tilson Thomas, Jose Serebrier, John Mauceri and James Levine.

Miss Peterson is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music & the Merola Opera Program. 

David Kline (Executive Producer/Technical Director) Bass Baritone is a veteran of over 1,000 professional performances ranging from leading roles in 67 operas to soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Robert Shaw. His opera repertory covers the gamut from seven world premieres to Mozart’s Figaro and Leporello, with a special love for the comic basso buffo classics like Don Pasquale, Dr. Dulcamara, and Rossini’s Dr. Bartolo.  He has sung leading roles with the Hawaii Opera Theater, San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theater, Seattle Opera, Fort Worth Opera Association, the Dallas Grand Opera, Virginia Opera Theater, Michigan Opera Theater, Des Moines Metro Opera, Arizona Opera, the Lake George Opera Festival and the opera companies of Orlando, Columbus, Indianapolis, Syracuse and at Duke University.  

A consummate musician, Mr. Kline has worked with classical composers from Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and Gian-Carlo Menotti to Tom Pasatieri and Robert Ward, to Broadway’s Charles Strauss creating the role of Tex in Singers and the title role in Gary William Friedman’s Mordecai

Orchestra concerts include soloist with orchestras in New York, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana and North Carolina. 

Starting out on the right foot as an undergraduate at Westminster Choir College, he sang with the famous Westminster Choir under Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Pierre Boulez, and William Steinberg, went twice to the Spoleto, Italy Festival, and toured with Roger Wagner.  He won a full scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music for his Master’s degree, where he was awarded the John Brownlee prize for outstanding singing actor.

David Maiullo (Music Director) described by Opera Now Magazine as “a pianist of sentiment, discretion and style”, David Maiullo is an avid accompanist/coach in the New York City Metropolitan area.  His performance of over 3,000 recitals and programs have led him to the stage of Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher, Alice Tully, and Merkin Concert Halls in the US as well as venues in Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France and Japan.

He was awarded a scholarship as an accompanist to the American Institute of musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and has been a recipient of a fellowship with Opera-Music Theater International with Jerome Hines.

Mr. Maiullo had the distinct honor of performing the European premiere of Gian-Carlo Menotti’s Mass for its composer in Spoleto with the Ars Musica Chorale and has also performed in the prestigious “Fringe Festival” in Edinburgh.  Mr. Maiullo held the position of Chorus Master for the New Jersey State Opera for eight seasons and he continues to be a lecturer and pianist for opera-logs and concerts with the company.

As a collaborative pianist, New York Times critic Bernard Holland wrote, “Mr. Maiullo’s playing was sensitive and effective.”  Some of the notable singers with whom Mr. Maiullo has collaborated include Mario Bertolini, Dominic Cossa, Gilda Cruz-Romo, Sandra Darling, Mark Delavan, Enrico DiGiuseppe. Marta Eggerth-Kiepura, Jerome Hines, Kim Josephson, Vahan Khanzadian, Teresa Kubiak, Ted Lambrinos, Anthony Laciura, Edward Pierson III, Paul Plishka, Olga Ramanko, Joan Sena-Grande, Kevin Short, and Margarita Zambrana.

Currently Mr. Maiullo serves as the accompanist for the Gerda Lissner Foundation, Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, Career Bridges, and is the official Accompanist/Music Director for the Altamura/Caruso Competition.  He is Conductor/Music Director of the New Jersey Alliance of Performing Artists (a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization) and Chamber Virtuosi Orchestra.  He is also the Music Director of the Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Franklin Lakes.  Mr. Maiullo holds positions on the faculty of NYACK College, where he is director of the Opera Workshop, New Jersey City University, and is the Coach/Accompanist of the Musical Theater Class at the Julliard School of Music.

David Ostwald – Stage Director / Acting Teacher literally wrote the book on acting.  He is the author of Acting for Singers, published by Oxford University Press, which is a standard text in colleges and conservatories around the country. 

David has directed over 170 productions of plays and operas in the US and abroad.

He also specializes in teaching acting to singers of all levels.  His teaching credits include 4 years at Juilliard where he directed all productions for undergrad Opera Program and taught acting for singers, 15 years as head of the Opera Program at SUNY Purchase, The Aspen Music Festival, and UC Berkeley where he taught Directing and Modern Drama.

Arlene Shrut (Guest Coach / Accompanist) is a collaborative pianist with a visionary bent: combining tradition with transformation.  She is Founder and Artistic Director of New Triad for Collaborative Arts, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit educational and arts service organization, which offers professional presentation skills to empower classically-trained musicians to dramatically increase both the expressiveness and visual impact of their performances.

Dr. Shrut is on the Senior Vocal Coaching Faculty at The Juilliard School’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts and on the Vocal-Piano Recital Faculty at Manhattan School of Music.  Hailed as a “strong and sensitive pianist” by The New York Times, Arlene has performed across America, Canada and Europe, and recorded for Dorian, Albany, Summit, Centaur and Orion labels.  Arlene also launched The National Association of Accompanists and Coaches and taught at Syracuse University, Mannes College and, for fourteen summers, The Aspen Music School.

Arlene regularly serves as official pianist for international opera competitions sponsored by such organizations as The Loren Zachary Society, The Gerda Lissner Foundation, The Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, The Giulio Gari Foundation, The Marcello Giordani Foundation and the Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation.  In recent summers, she taught at the Vancouver International Song Institute, Operafest on Martha’s Vineyard and NJ, Resonanz Festival, and Songfest in Malibu in addition to Atlantic Music Festival.

Dr. Shrut was honored in 2003 as inaugural “Coach of the Year” by Classical Singer Magazine.

Susan Woodruff Versage (Coach / Pianist) is Assistant Professor and Opera Coach at the Mannes School of Music in NYC.  Susan was Assistant Conductor at New York City Opera. She has worked with opera companies in Zurich, Lucerne, and Neuchatel, Switzerland, and as coach/accompanist for Houston Grand Opera, Spoleto Festival, Kennedy Center, Minnesota Opera, Tulsa Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera. Teaching credits include the Konservatorium und Musikhochschule in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1998, she recorded Menotti's The Consul with the Berkshire Opera.

Mary Ann Gebhardt (Yoga Instructor) has been studying and teaching yoga for 25 years and is a registered member of the Yoga Alliance 500 hours.  She teaches Yoga based in the principles from Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws, and she has been certified by the Chopra Center. 

Kevin Rawlings (Makeup Artist)  a graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music with a degree in vocal performance, has been a make-up artist for the past twenty-six years.  While changing voice types from baritone to tenor, he was offered a position as a make-up artist at New York City Opera.  The security in this technical field proved too alluring to leave behind in order to pursue a singing career.  Mr. Rawlings worked for five years at New York City Opera and in 1991 moved to the Metropolitan Opera where he continues to work as make-up artist for principal artists today.

Class sizes are limited to
insure individual attention

download an application below



If I had to pick one summer that stands out in my memory, it would be the summer of 2009 when I participated in Operafest. Not only did I meet new incredible, talented people, but I also grew tremendously as a solo and group performer. The experience was definitely intense, but in the best way possible. The instructors taught me so many valuable lessons and I even found myself learning form my peers. I highly recommend this program for dedicated singers who want to learn about opera technique and performance, as well as many other aspects of the art of vocal performance!

Monique Owens