Getting to the Next Phase in Your Opera Career featuring Technical Apprentice Khadija Ann Tarver and Apprentice Singer Thomas Cilluffo

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Santa Fe Opera plays host to more than peerless productions. On stage and off, SFO apprentices spend the season learning by doing at one of the most celebrated and welcoming training grounds in the world. Host Jane Trembley chats with technical apprentice Khadija Ann Tarver and apprentice singer Thomas Cilluffo about their respective programs, what advice the pair have for aspiring apprentices, and their plans beyond Santa Fe.

“I was coming in open-minded since I didn't have a traditional theater background,” admits Khadija. Talent earned her a coveted spot on this season’s props and carpentry team, while curiosity has improved Khadija’s design-and-build acumen. “There's a lot of pressure [to feel like] I'm not particularly good at this yet. Then there's a moment when you realize all of these people in the scene shop and carpentry shop are here to help me, and they want to see me learn as much as possible.”

Apprentice opportunities honor SFO founder John Crosby’s vision of providing an immersive and inclusive environment in which to gain practical experience. “Once you get here, you get coachings, you get lessons, you do apprentice scenes, you do master classes, you sing in the choruses,” Tom says. While his intense performance routine doesn’t leave much downtime for anything but rest, he welcomes the challenges and is bolstered by the camaraderie. “I think the best advice I can give is always to assume positive intent because nobody is here to be your opposition.”

Learn more about The Santa Fe Opera’s Apprentice Program for Singers and the Apprentice Program for Theater Technicians.


Khadija Ann Tarver - Technical Apprentice

Thomas Cilluffo - Performance Apprentice


Destination Santa Fe Opera is a Santa Fe Opera podcast, produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.

Post-Production Audio: Edwin R. Ruiz

Hosted by: Jane Trembley

Additional Editing by: Helen King

Show Notes by: Lisa Widder


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