Youth Opera Information

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Since 1984, Sarasota Youth Opera has given countless young people age 8 and above an opportunity to experience the magic of opera through participation in choruses, Sarasota Opera's main stage productions, and the Youth Opera's own productions.

Accepting everyone who applies, regardless of skill level or ability to pay, this program is unique in the opera world. 
Read more.

For more information:
call (941)366-8450 ext. 249

Interested in supporting Youth Opera programs? Learn more 

Come Perform With Us! 

Though opera may sound scary or weird, we are here to show you that anyone can sing classical music (horned helmet and spear not required) AND have fun!

Families are invited to see what Sarasota Youth Opera is all about at our upcoming enrollment sessions.

Young people grades 3 to 12 and their parents/guardians

Winter/Spring Enrollment Dates
There will be multiple enrollment sessions based on age:

Sarasota Opera House Sessions

Tuesday, January 8 from 5:30-6:50 PM (for grades 6-12)
Thursday, January 10 from 5:30-6:50 PM (for grades 6-12)
Saturday, January 12 from 10:00 - 11:00 AM (for grades 3-5)

LAKEWOOD RANCH Sessions (at Harvest United Methodist)

Wednesday, January 9 from 5:30-6:30 PM (for grades 3-8)
Wednesday, January 16 from 5:30-6:30 PM (for grades 3-8)

To Reserve Your Space
Click here for online registration

No prior experience necessary | Families need only attend one session


Please contact us at or 941-328-1307




Youth Opera Staff

Jesse Martins, Music Director
Maestro Jesse Martins has dedicated his career to working as an accompanist in his home country of Brazil, and also New Zealand, England, and the United States. He holds a Master of Arts in Collaborative Piano from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil).

Since joining Sarasota Opera in 2011 Maestro Martins has served as Youth Opera Chorus Master for Sarasota Opera’s recent productions of Carmen, Otello, Turandot, Pagliacci and Tosca, in addition to Cover Conductor for Il Barbiere di Siviglia (2014), Le nozze di Figaro (2015), and  L'italiana in Algeri (2017). He also served as Chorus Master/Associate Conductor for Sarasota Youth Opera’s world premiere of Daron Hagen’s Little Nemo in Slumberland (2012), Conductor for Britten’s The Little Sweep (2013), Dean Burry’s The Hobbit (2014), Hans Krása’s Brundibár (2015), and Burry’s The Secret World of Og (2016).

Prior to his graduate studies, Maestro Martins was the Assistant Music Director and Program Manager for the Opera Factory Theater (Auckland, New Zealand), a training center for young singers. While in New Zealand, Mr. Martins worked with soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, British Maestro Sir Andrew Davis, and acted as chorus pianist for NBR New Zealand Opera’s production of Janáček’s Jenůfa. While a Graduate Assistant at Mansfield University, Mr. Martins was a coach for Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, accompanied the Concert Choir in a competition in Wales (UK), and performed at the Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival (NY).

Maestro Jesse has been a member of Sarasota Opera’s education department since 2011.

Ben Jewell-Plocher, Director of Education
Ben Jewell-Plocher holds a Bachelor of Music with honors from Butler University in Indianapolis and a Master of Music in vocal performance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. At Butler, he appeared in numerous productions and oratorio works including Trouble in Tahiti (Trio), Handel’s Messiah (Soloist), and Company (Paul). Credits include Carmen and La fille du régiment (Indianapolis Opera), Dido and Aeneas (Sorcerer) and The Tender Land (Top) with Meadows Opera Theatre, Of Mice and Men and La Cenerentola with Fort Worth Opera Festival, and The Tender Land (Top) at the Georgetown Festival of the Arts in Georgetown, TX.

Administratively, Mr. Ben served as Operations Manager for the Indianapolis Children’s Choir from 2006-2007 and as a Residence Hall Director at Interlochen Arts Academy from 2009-2011. Mr. Ben also worked behind-the-scenes for three seasons at the St. Louis MUNY, with production credits including The Little Mermaid, Footloose, Damn Yankees, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Mr. Ben has been a member of the Sarasota Opera’s education department since 2011. During this time, he has overseen the commissioning of two new works for young voices and expansions in Sarasota Opera’s after-school and in-school programing.

George Hemcher, Music and Administrative Assistant
George Hemcher, a native of Frazer, PA, is Sarasota Youth Opera’s newly appointed Education & Music Administration Assistant and Assistant Conductor beginning June 2017.

At Delaware Valley Opera, he worked on Verdi’s Otello, Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, and was the Music Director for Mozart's The Impresario. Maestro Hemcher has also collaborated with Pocket Opera of New York, Regina Opera in Brooklyn, Light Opera of New York, eVoco Voice Collective Mixed and Women's Ensemble, Voci da Camera, Oyster Bay Music Festival, and Floating Opera New York. As a tenor, he has sung Dr. Blind in Die Fledermaus, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Spärlich in Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, Fiorello, the Officer, Ambrosius in The Barber of Seville, and El Remendado in Carmen.

Maestro Hemcher has played piano for Distinguished Concerts International New York on the world premiere of Cristian Grases Nocturnos y Adivinanzas at Carnegie Hall as well as Steven Sametz' Carmina Amoris, Donald McCullough's In the Shadow of the Holocaust, Zane Zalis' I believe, Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem, Tim Sharp/Wes Ramsey's A High, Lonesome Bluegrass Mass, the Verdi Requiem, and Tarik O'Regan's Tryptich and The Ecstasies Above. Maestro George was the Music Director at Venture Opera for Donizetti's Don Pasquale at the OPERA America Recital Hall and at the Kay Meek Center in Vancouver, Canada. Previously, Maestro George was the Music Director of the Opera Scenes program at Hofstra University.