Biografie: The Belgian mezzo - soprano Sara Jo Benoot (°1990) started developing a real passion for opera at a very young age. In 2013 she obtained her Master’s degree in Classical Singing with a specialization in Opera at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp (Belgium). In 2014 she obtained an additional Master's degree in Music and Voice Teaching at the same conservatoire. Additionally, she followed the Concert Musician’s Course with the Belgian baritone, Lionel Lhote, at the Royal Conservatoire of Brussels. In the season 2014-2015, Sara Jo made her debut at Opera Flanders in Antwerp and Ghent, where she appeared as Neferneferuaten in Philip Glass' opera Akhnaten with conductor Titus Engel and director Nigel Lowery. The House reinvited her straight away to participate in its Otello (Verdi) as Emilia that was conducted by Alexander Joel and directed by Michael Thalheimer during the season 2015-2016. Currently, Sara Jo is a member of the Opera Studio of the Cologne Opera House (Oper Köln) in Germany, where she appeared as un Pâtre, l’Écureuil and la Chatte in L’enfant et les Sortilèges by Ravel and as Bridesmaid in Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart, both conducted by François-Xavier Roth, as Mrs. Páskova in The Cunning Little Vixen (Das Schlaue Füchslein) by Janáček and as Alisa in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor conducted by Leo Hussain. At Oper Köln she also performed the roles of Matilda in the children’s opera King Arthur (Purcell), of Die Muse der Dichtung in the children’s opera Hoffmanns Erzählungen by Offenbach and of Zweites Heinzelfrauchen and Dritte Übermütige Kellnerin in Die Heinzelmännchen zu Köln, a children’s jazz opera by Ingfried Hoffmann. At the end of April 2017, Sara Jo sang at the Fest der Schöne Stimmen, a concert with Pretty Yende, Eric Cutler and Igor Golovatenko i.a., organized by the Cologne Opera House. Later on, in May 2017, she participated in a masterclass and closing concert with the American dramatic soprano Deborah Polaski. In March 2016, Sara Jo was invited for a masterclass with Silvana Bazzoni Bartoli, organised by the Cecilia Bartoli Music Foundation, in Zürich. Later on, she was selected by the Junge Musiker Stiftung in the Festspielstadt of Bayreuth for a masterclass with Manfred Jung. In May 2015, Sara Jo was a prizewinner at the International Vocal Competition in Žďár nad Sázavou in the Czech Republic. During the summer of 2015, Sara Jo joined the Integrated Viewpoint Training for Opera Singers at the Maastricht Theatre Academy given by Ludger Engels, Jan van Opstal and Gemma Visser. Subsequently, she participated in the masterclass and closing concert of the Gstaad Menuhin Festival and Academy under the supervision of Silvana Bazzoni Bartoli and eventually went to Salzburg to join the masterclass by Wolfgang Brendel and take part in the concert of the Preisträgerauswahl-Akademie at the famous Mozarteum. In September 2015, Sara Jo Benoot was selected for the IVC Summer School on Russian Repertoire, a workshop organised by the International Vocal Competition (IVC) in ’s- Hertogenbosch (Netherlands) in collaboration with the Dutch National Opera (Amsterdam) and ENOA (European Network of Opera Academies). The workshop completely focused on Russian repertoire and was taught by mezzo-soprano Larissa Diadkova and baritone Sergei Leiferkus, joined by pianist and opera coach Liuba Orfenova, conductor Alexander Humala, and language coach and pianist Irina Sisoyeva. In October 2015, Sara Jo participated in a masterclass with Christoph Prégardien, organized by deSingel - International Arts Campus in Antwerp (Belgium). Photography – Sarah Bolz for Oper Köln During the previous years, Sara Jo also participated in numerous other masterclasses across Europe. In February and March 2015, she performed at a masterclass with Sarah Walker in The Hague (Netherlands) and a masterclass and closing concert led by Bruno de Simone at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège (Belgium). Furthermore, she was selected to take part in Anna Tomowa-Sintow's masterclass at the International Summer Academy Mozarteum in Salzburg and a masterclass with Montserrat Caballé in Zaragoza (Spain), and participated in the ones given by Mechthild Georg and later Thomas Heyer at the Palazzo Ricci, Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Montepulciano (Italy). Moreover, Sara Jo repeatedly attended the Corso Internazionale di Canto e Perfezionamento Vocale with Sabrina Avantario in Pamparato (Italy), organized as part of the Festival dei Saraceni. Sara Jo enjoyed studying, working or attending masterclasses with other recognized names such as Fiorenza Cossotto, Giovanna Canetti, Koen Kessels, Guy Joosten, Susanne Resmark, Geert Callaert, Jef Smits, Lucienne Van Deyck, Carol Yahr and Dmitri Jurowski. Sara Jo has been supported by the Siaa-Foundation, SPES, S.W.U.K. Vlaanderen, the Robus Foundation, the Theodor-Rogler-Stiftung and Inspiratum. Currently, she is coached by Jon Thorsteinsson and Alexander Fedin.