About the Opera Foundation

The above video is a 30 minute film created during the coronavirus pandemic in December 2020 by Ruth Tromboukis for our 35th annual “Virtual Opera Gala”. It highlights the Opera Foundation’s programs in Berlin, Munich, Torino and Amsterdam including testimonials from our former singers, opera directors and academics.

Celebrating 30 years of supporting young American opera singers abroad.

The purpose of the Opera Foundation is to support young American singers abroad and build cross-cultural bridges between the United States and other important opera supporting countries. The Foundation provides professional scholarships and study grants to qualified young American singers between the ages of 18 and 30. Since 1987, highly competitive auditions have been held annually to award these scholarships to pre-selected applicants. Currently up to five emerging young artists are chosen every year and placed with our overseas partners: Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro Regio di Torino, Die Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, and the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam.

scholarship winners

Over the years, the Foundation's supporters have expanded to include individuals and corporations from all over the world, drawing from the rich cultural and corporate diversity of New York City and its environment. It is the Opera Foundation's goal to continue expanding its scholarship activities where it believes it can make a difference in the development of young opera talent, in the spirit of cultural exchange between the United States and beyond.

The above video is a short film about the first 25 years of Opera Foundation's programs at Deutsche Oper Berlin and Teatro Regio Torino since our founding in 1986. The film follows scholarship winners John Paul Huckle, Nathan De'Shon Myers and James J. Kee during their 10 month programs and includes testimonies from Maestro Gianandrea Noseda and one of our Founders, Soprano Karan Armstrong. The film by Tina Flemmerer is available from the Foundation by request.

History of the Opera Foundation

The Opera Foundation was originally launched in 1986 as the American Berlin Opera Foundation. The first scholarship program was established in 1986 with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, thanks to the late Professor Götz Friedrich. In 2008, a second scholarship program was established with Teatro Regio Torino, thanks to Maestro Gianandrea Noseda and the generous support of Amber Capital. In 2012, the Foundation announced a 3rd scholarship program with the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and in 2020 a 4th collaboration with the Dutch National Opera. The Foundation has awarded more than 80 scholarships since inception, including study grants for voice coaching and linguistic purposes. The Opera Foundation is proud in the fact that many of its young artists have gone on to build long lasting careers in the operatic world beyond our programs. Over the years, the Foundation's supporters have expanded to include individuals and corporations from all over the world, drawing from the rich cultural and corporate diversity of New York City and its environment. In 2006, the Foundation changed its name to The Opera Foundation, in recognition of its more diverse contributor base and expanding scholarship activities throughout the world.

Current Officers and Board of Directors


Bernhard Koepp

Executive Director

Elizabeth Walbröl


Sherif Lotfi

Board of Directors

Dr. Martin Bussmann, Cecilia Dupire, Katherine Fuerstenberg-Raettig, Bernhard Koepp, Phillip Lasser, Sherif Lotfi, Dr. Daniel Mahler, Santiago Trigo, Ashley von Perfall, Elizabeth Walbröl

Past Officers

Past Presidents

  • Bernd-A. von Maltzan 1986 to 1990
  • Dr. Stephan Hess 1990 to 1991
  • Alexander T. Ercklentz 1991 to 2006

Past Treasurers

  • Joachim Graf von Arnim 1990 to 1991
  • Christoph Marx 1991
  • Hans-Konrad Graf Finck von Finckenstein 1991 to 1993
  • Bernhard Köpp1993 to 2006

Past Executive Directors

  • Christa (Dixy) Drechsler 1986 to 1994

Past Secretaries

  • George Berlstein 1986 to 2005
  • Stephanie Denkowicz 2005 to 2013


K Karan Armstrong, Dr. Bernd-A. von Maltzan, Joseph Bennett, Maria McRae, George Berlstein, Dr. Heinrich Pelke, Christa (Dixy) Drechsler, Dr. Alard von Rohr, Professor Götz Friedrich, Albert B. Shepard, Princess Tassilo von Fürstenberg, Amy Sperling, Dr. Jesús López-Cobos, Elizabeth A. Voight