from Mount Airy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who started singing with his
mother’s sorority when he was only eight years old and then became a
member of The Philadelphia Boys Choir.
He attended St. John’s Preparatory School and joined the Christus Choir and the Cape and Sword Drama
Society. His love of acting and
singing naturally led him to opera.
graduating from St. John’s in 2002, he went on to undergraduate studies
at Loyola University, which is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. In the summer of 2005, on his way
back from Italy, his flight was laid over in Atlanta, Georgia. The reason: Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans Opera was flooded,
destroying their costumes and set pieces. Loyola escaped with minimal damage
but the mandatory evacuation threatened to leave him without a home, a
career, and an education.
lot of people came together in one way or another to help Justin on his
College in Buffalo, New York, in an astounding act of magnanimity, took in
Loyola students tuition-free, going so far as to create a conducting class
for Justin so he could meet the requirements of his music degree.
Then the Los
Angeles Opera came calling. Wanting to do something to help New
Orleans’ plethora of disenfranchised musicians, they rang up the New
Orleans Opera, asking for names of potential singers to join the chorus of
Richard Wagner’s Parsifal. The company’s union delegate,
Jennifer Wallace, arranged to have the union pay for his ticket to
L.A. Soon he was performing
with the Opera, soloing in church, and even singing on the soundtrack of King Kong.
Once the mess
was cleaned up at Loyola, Justin returned to complete his education,
graduating in 2006. He moved
back to Philadelphia and placed second at the 45th Mario Lanza Institute Anniversary Ball, singing “Quand la flamme” from George Bizet’s Le Jolie Fille
de Perth. On 17th
August 2007, he joined forces with Brad Benoit, Maria-Kate Fleming, and
Meghan Scheibal for “A Mid-Summer Night of
Opera” at Clos Pegase
Cave Theater in Calistoga, California.
He spent much of 2007 and 2008 in Italy to learn the language and
study opera, thanks in part to a fundraising concert mounted by his alma
mater, St. John’s Prep.
returned, he joined The James Collier Apprentice Artist Program of the Des
Moines Metro Opera, where he played Cal in a production of Marc
Blitzstein’s Regina. He was also a special guest of Fort
Worth Opera Studio, cast as King Balthazar in the holiday favourite, Amahl and the
Night Visitors. Then he
became involved in The Pensacola Opera Artist in Residence Program, again
playing a king, this time in Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida. He closed out
his residency with them in a farewell performance on 9th May
2009, a mixed bag of jazz, opera, and show tunes.
October 2009, he helped the Opera Company of Philadelphia open its season
by playing the part of the registrar in Giacomo
Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. He ended the year by auditioning for
the Pittsburgh Resident Artist Program at the Jewish Community Center in
New York, New York. No
pressure: His was the last name
called, at 5:15 p.m.
He is also on
the roster of The Philadelphia Singers, the chorus-in-residence of The