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Dolora Zajick to Receive Opera Index Distinguished Achievement Award


On Sunday, January 17, Opera Index will present its 37th Distinguished Achievement Award to Dolora Zajick, a true dramatic mezzo-soprano, acclaimed by The New York Times as "a mezzo in a class by herself," at a gala evening beginning at 6 p.m. at JW Marriott Essex House, 160 Central Park South. Presenting Ms. Zajick with this year's award will be Matthew Epstein, a former director of the vocal division of Columbia Artists Management whom Opera News declared as "one of the 25 most powerful names in opera."

The black-tie evening, with a guest list that includes many from the worlds of opera and theater, not only celebrates the remarkable career of Ms. Zajick but will also feature performances by all six winners of the 2015 Opera Index Vocal Competition. Over the past 33 years, the competition has bolstered the careers of 375 young singers with awards totaling more than $1 million. Among the notable singers "discovered" by Opera Index have been Stephanie Blythe, Michael Fabiano, Christine Goerke, Susan Graham, Angela Meade, Eric Owens, and Deborah Voigt, among so many others. See a complete list here.

Tickets for the Opera Index Winter Gala range from $350 to $1,000 (a portion of which is tax deductible). More information and tickets are available by phone at 212-706-9550 or from

This past October 90 singers competed in the preliminary auditions in Ida K. Lang Hall at Hunter College, and from the 28 finalists, a total of 17 young artists received cash awards: Six singers won major awards, along with five "emerging" artists awards and six "encouragement" awards. The panel of judges included representatives from four major opera companies and two management agencies.

The six major awards presented were: $10,000 each to baritones Will Liverman and Sean Michael Plumb; $7,500 to countertenor Siman Chung, $5,000 to mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey; $4,000 to tenor Jonas Hacker; and $3,000 to tenor Robert Watson.

The Emerging Artist Awards of $2,000 each were given to soprano Susannah Biller, baritone Sol Jin, mezzo-soprano Megan Marino, baritone Shea Owens, and tenor Mario Rojas.

Encouragement Awards of $1,000 each were received by sopranos Meryl Dominguez and Alexa Jarvis, mezzo-soprano Maya Yahav Gour, tenors Alasdair Kent and Galeano Salas, and bass Daniel Miraslaw.

Dolora Zajick

As a 22-year-old pre-med student of the University of Nevada and chorus member of the Nevada Opera, Dolora Zajick's unique voice was recognized by the late Ted Puffer, an American singer and voice teacher. Realizing she had an opportunity for a singing career, Ms. Zajick switched majors and soon after graduating, won the bronze medal in Moscow's Tchaikovsky Competition. Her major opera debut in the role of Azucena in Il Trovatore with San Francisco Opera launched her to international stardom. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the same role and remains the definitive interpreter of Azucena, having sung it more than any other artist in Met history. Earlier this season, after singing nearly 250 Metropolitan Opera performances of ten different roles over the past 25 years, Met General Manager Peter Gelb presented Ms. Zajick with a commemorative golden anvil and called her "one of the greatest voices in the history of opera."

Opera Index, composed of opera devotees, is an outgrowth of The New York Opera Club, founded in the late 1950's by William Wells, an opera lover and radio personality, well known for his interviews with opera singers of the day. Opera Index, its name taken from Mr. Wells's file of opera singers, became a formal non-profit organization in 1982 and two years later inaugurated its first annual opera competition for singers in the early stages of their careers.

The first Opera Index Distinguished Achievement Award was presented in 1985 to Zinka Milanov followed by Leonie Rysenik, Samuel Ramey, Roberta Peters, Licia Albanese, Marilyn Horne, Jamila Nvotna, Alfredo Kraus, Lucine Amara, Jerome Hines, Birgit Nilsson, Renato Scotto, Rose Bampton, Theodor Uppman, Anna Moffo, Grace Bumbry, Martina Arroyo. George Jellinek, Deborah Voigt, Jon Vickers, Regina Resnik, Sherrill Milnes, James Morris, Catherine Malfitano, Jessye Norman, Aprile Millo, Julius Rudel, Patrice Munsel, Shirley Verrett, George Shirley, Eve Queler, Eric Owens, and Rosalind Elias, and most recently, Susan Graham. More information about Opera Index, is available at

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