If some company has to charge for coming to NY or elsewhere for a few days of auditions and has to charge apprentices (or regular artists) for an audition, they maybe shouldn't be running an opera company if they can't afford it. They can't afford renting a room in an audition studio and an accompanist and have to have singers foot the bill for their transportation, meals and hotels? That's really bullshit. I don't know if they actually charged for the apprentice experience though -- that's pretty crummy.
My coach from the Met told me years ago that most apprentice programs were set up to get a cheap chorus in exchange for offering some coaching and classes. Also disheartening was that some "managers" charged retainer fees by the month for clients, which is also a scam. There frankly isn't enough opera production or performances per year in the U.S. to justify such fees, especially since long-distance telephone calling, texting and e-mail in the U.S. is so cheap nowadays. Agents (managers, in opera) should have more of a stake in their talent anyway so they don't have to charge them until they get work, like theatrical agents.