Dallas Opera Guild Announces Semifinalists for Vocal Competition, 4/18

DALLAS, JANUARY 22, 2014 -The Dallas Opera and The Dallas Opera Guild are proud to announce historic levels of participation in the first phase of the newly expanded Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, scheduled to take place on the weekend of April 18-19, 2015 in the acoustically acclaimed setting of the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

After opening this year's competition to aspiring young opera singers from all fifty states and U.S. territories (Yes, it's bigger than Texas!), The Dallas Opera received a total of 362 eligible applications-eclipsing the previous record of 87-to participate in the two-day spring music event. The Dallas Opera received applications from 49 states and Puerto Rico (U.S. Territory).

From that number, a total of twenty semi-finalists were selected to take part.



Benjamin Bliss, tenor, Lindemann Young Artist Development Program (The Met)

Aleksey Bogdanov, baritone, graduate Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program

John Brancy, baritone, graduate of The Juilliard School

J'nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano, Ryan Opera Center (Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Tracy Cox, soprano, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Finalist

Anthony Clark Evans, baritone, winner, Metropolitan Opera Nat. Council Auditions

Ben Gulley, tenor, member of "The American Tenors," Sony/BMG Masterworks

Michelle Johnson, soprano, Grand Prize, 2011 Met Opera National Council Auditions

Nicole Joseph, soprano, Masters and Specialist Degree in Voice, Univ. of Michigan

Theo Lebow, tenor, Seattle, St. Louis, Santa Fe, Merola Young Artist Program

D'Ana Lombard, soprano, Houston Grand Opera Studio

Sarah Mesko, mezzo-soprano, graduate, Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program

Hyesang Park, soprano, The Juilliard School

Thomas Richards, bass-baritone, Houston Grand Opera Studio

Ethan Simpson, baritone, Northwestern University

Adrian Smith, bass-baritone, Virginia Opera Young Artist Program

Elizabeth Sutphen, soprano, The Juilliard School

Zanda Svede, mezzo-soprano, Adler Fellow, San Francisco Opera

Maria Valdes, soprano, Adler Fellow, San Francisco Opera

Elizabeth Zharoff, soprano, graduate, Semperoper Dresden Young Artist Program

There is no charge for admission for attending any part of the 27th annual competition (although donations are definitely welcome), and Lexus Red Garage parking is available for just $5 for either the Semi-Final Round, from 11:00 AM until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 18th and the Finals Round the following evening at 7:30 p.m.

Besides significant cash prizes and the extraordinary opportunity to perform before an influential world-class panel of judges, chaired by Dr. Brian Zeger, a major innovation at this year's Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition (April 18-19, 2015) is the introduction of an orchestral accompaniment for the Finals Round. Competing artists will have the opportunity to rehearse and perform with the Dallas Opera Orchestra led by internationally renowned Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, recently praised by The New York Times for his conducting of the prestigious 2014 Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala. Richard Sasanow of Broadway World observed: "the evening was filled with many pleasures, under the baton of Maestro Emmanuel Villaume." The maestro of choice for a host of renowned opera artists like Anna Netrebko (with whom he has just collaborated on a new Deutsche Grammaphon release of Tchaikovsky's Iolanta), this is an aspiring opera singer's chance to work, one-on-one, with one of the most sought-after conductors of our time.

Twenty exceptionally talented semi-finalists (and additional alternates) have been selected from the original group of 362 applicants. Notices are going out this week.

"I have been absolutely thrilled by the hugely positive public and industry response to our latest gamble: expanding the scope of this statewide competition to include the best young artists in the country," says Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny. "Working closely with the leadership of The Dallas Opera Guild, Maestro Villaume and Dr. Zeger, I can tell you that we are committed to making this exciting annual competition one of the most important in the nation for the next generation of young opera artists."

The judges for the upcoming 2015 competition reads like an American Opera "Who's Who."

Judges for the 2015 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition:

Brian Zeger, Chair

Artistic Director of Juilliard's Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts and Executive Director for the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera

Keith Cerny

General Director and CEO of The Dallas Opera

Emmanuel Villaume

Music Director, The Dallas Opera

Ian Derrer

Artistic Administrator, The Dallas Opera

Jonathan Friend

Artistic Administrator, The Metropolitan Opera

Gregory Henkel
Director of Artistic and Music Planning, San Francisco Opera

Andreas Melinat

Director of Artistic Administration, Lyric Opera of Chicago

Joshua Winograde

Senior Director of Artistic Planning, Los Angeles Opera

Dallas Opera Guild President Susan Fleming explained earlier that "The Guild has long been proud of the annual Vocal Competition, and our members who work countless hours behind the scenes to bring the competition to life. We are pleased to be working together with General Director & CEO Keith Cerny, Maestro Emmanuel Villaume, and Brian Zeger to build on our past success and to increase the national prominence of this competition."

Dallas Opera Guild 2015 Vocal Competition Chair Ketty Fitzgerald added, "Building on the foundation of all those who came before us, we have a unique opportunity to restructure this competition to enable it to do even more to advance the careers of the best young singers in opera. That is our ultimate goal, in taking this event to the next level."


However, the judging isn't left entirely to the professionals; amateur music lovers will have the opportunity to express their views, too.

Audience participation, in fact, is part of the fun at each year's Dallas Opera Vocal Competition and, for the sixteenth consecutive year, attendees will be given the chance to sit down with a ballot and vote on their personal favorites for "The People's Choice Award."

The Dallas Opera Guild's Vocal Competition, not only provides vital assistance to the young opera stars of tomorrow, but also creates an outstanding opportunity for people from throughout the community to experience the next generation of singing stars.

"The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition offered much-needed career and financial support at a crucial time in my life," says Jennifer Black (First Prize, People'sChoice Award, 2001). "I had just completed my studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio, as well as my first summer with San Francisco's Merola Opera Program, and was on my way to The Yale School of Music.

"The chance to participate in this competition was a real 'vote of confidence' that encouraged me to continue on this path I had chosen. I feel blessed to have been a recipient of the Guild's generous support."

This free, spring musical event has become a favorite among opera aficionados and vocal music lovers across North Texas. For additional information about the 27thAnnual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, please contact The Dallas Opera Guild at 214-443-1040 or visit us online at http://dallasopera.org/vocal.

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