Soloman Howard. (Nikki Kahn/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Our five panelists:

ALYSON CAMBRIDGE , soprano, a D.C. native, is singing her first Cio-Cio San in Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” at the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee this weekend. In January at the Terrace Theater, she gives a solo concert for Washington Performing Arts featuring two newly commissioned works as well as the song cycle “The Diary of Sally Hemings,” by William Bolcom, which she has recorded. Her album “Until Now,” a jazz and crossover venture, is scheduled for release this fall.

SOLOMAN HOWARD , bass, is about to start rehearsals for Washington National Opera’s “Appomattox,” in which he sings the dual role of Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King. The D.C. native, an alumnus of WNO’s Domingo-Cafritz program, made his Metropolitan Opera debut last season as the King in “Aida,” and reprised the title role of Muhammad Ali in “Approaching Ali,” written for the Washington National Opera, in Raleigh. Future plans include Fafner in WNO’s “Ring” cycle.

KENNETH KELLOGG, bass, a graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and an alumnus of WNO’s Domingo-Cafritz program and the Wolf Trap Opera, has just finished playing Zuniga in WNO’s “Carmen,” after a run as Sarastro at the Opera de Lausanne. Upcoming roles include Young Emile in a revival of Terrence Blanchard’s 2013 jazz opera “Champion” at Opera Parallele in San Francisco.

DEBORAH NANSTEEL, mezzo-soprano, an alumna of WNO’s Domingo-Cafritz program, made an unexpected debut this week with the New York Philharmonic as part of a program celebrating African American singers and their heritage. This summer, she sang the role of Lucinda in the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s “Cold Mountain” at the Santa Fe Opera; in the spring, she will appear in WNO’s “Ring” cycle.

RUSSELL THOMAS, tenor, was also a featured soloist in the abovementioned New York Philharmonic program, and was heard in D.C. two seasons ago in Washington Concert Opera’s “I Masnadieri.” His wide-ranging international career has extended from the world premieres of John Adams’s “A Flowering Tree” and “The Gospel According to the Other Mary” to Tamino and Tito at the Metropolitan Opera to an upcoming run of Polliones in “Norma” at the Los Angeles Opera.