Houston Grand Opera (HGO) announces the appointment of Laura Canning to head its young artist development program, the Houston Grand Opera Studio. Canning’s appointment is effective August 1, 2008. For the last 10 years, Canning served as artistic administrator for Welsh National Opera (WNO), where she negotiated guest artist and production contracts and served on the organization’s casting committee. Canning was also an integral part of WNO’s planning process, working with the organization’s various departments in order to map out future seasons. Canning succeeds Hector Vasquez, who oversaw the program from 2005 until his departure earlier this year.

“I am thrilled that Laura Canning is joining our wonderful team at Houston Grand Opera to direct the Houston Grand Opera Studio,” says Anthony Freud, OBE, HGO’s general director and CEO. “She brings a wealth of experience in working with young singers and artistic administration and has a great depth of knowledge of singers, singing, and the operatic repertoire.”

Sandra Bernhard, director of HGO, which oversees the Opera Studio, adds, “Laura will bring many important skills to the team that inspires, coaches, and trains the Studio artists. I am looking forward to collaborating with her on the development of Houston Grand Opera's excellent training program as we begin our 31st year.”

Canning was born in Portsmouth, England and grew up in Hong Kong. Following her graduation from the University of Cambridge, where she majored in modern and medieval languages, she went to work in the operatic division at London’s Athole Still International Management. Canning also worked for Harold Holt Artist Management and the Glyndebourne Festival before her tenure at WNO.

“Laura Canning's thorough knowledge of and deep experience in identifying, evaluating, and nurturing young operatic vocal talent will prove enormous assets to Houston Grand Opera,” says HGO music director Patrick Summers. “Together with the studio's music director, Kathleen Kelly, young singers across the country will find in Laura exactly the sort of precision of information, honesty, and depth of knowledge that they should seek for their advancement and development.”

“The HGO Studio is a truly top-tier program,” says Canning. “I am looking forward to being involved with this tremendous group of artists.” She says she is also looking forward to relocating to Houston with her family. “Everyone has been so welcoming, and Houston’s a great city,” she says. “I’m hugely excited about the whole thing.”