Opera San José Announces 6th Annual Irene Dalis Vocal Competition Award Winners


Opera San José General Director Irene Dalis has announced the results of the Sixth Annual Irene Dalis Vocal Competition held May 19, 2012 at the California Theatrein downtown San José.

Ten finalists selected from the annual three-day West Coast Auditions for Singers performed some of the most beloved opera arias, vying for nearly $50,000 in cash prizes. At the end of the evening soprano Rebecca Davis from Carol Stream, Illinois was awarded First Prize and $15,000 for her stirring performance of “Dis-moi que je suis belle” from Massenet’s Thais and “Dove sono i bei momenti,” from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.

Second Prize ($10,000) was awarded to mezzo-soprano Maria McDaniel, who sang “Cruda sorte…già so per practica” from Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri and “What a movie!” from Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti.

Third Prize ($5,000) went to tenor Cesar Sanchez who performed “Recondita armonia” from Puccini’s Tosca and “Questa o quella” from Verdi’s Rigoletto. Mr. Sanchez was also awarded the Audience Favorite prize, selected by popular vote during the final intermission, and received an additional $5,000 for a grand total of $10,000 in cash prizes. “Cesar Sanchez is a wonderful young artist who demonstrated such high vocal standards that he not only won over the judges, but the audience members as well,” said Irene Dalis. “I must say that this was the best talent we have seen in the six years of this competition and I am grateful that I did not have to judge. It would have been very difficult to select a winner from these fine operatic artists.”

The other seven finalists each received a prize of $2,000:

Kearstin Piper Brown, soprano; Illinois
Christie Hageman, soprano; Montana
Christina Major, soprano; California
Julie Anne Miller, mezzo-soprano; California
Mathew Edwardsen, tenor; Illinois
Krassen Karagiozov, baritone; Bulgaria
Silas Elash, bass; Pennsylvania

Judges for the competition were Henry Akina, General & Artistic Director, Hawaii Opera Theatre; Ward Holmquist, Artistic Director, Lyric Opera of Kansas City; and Brad Trexell, Director of Artistic Operations, Opera Colorado. Richard Harrell, Opera Program Director, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Peter Jaffe, Music Director and Conductor, Stockton Symphony, and Timm Rolek, Artistic Director and Conductor, Lake Tahoe Music Festival, served on the preliminary panel.

Sal Pizarro from the San José Mercury News presented the Audience Favorite Award and accomplished pianist Catherine Miller was this year’s accompanist for both the vocal competition finals and the preceding auditions.

The annual Irene Dalis Vocal Competition is sponsored by the Irene Dalis Fund for Singers.

Photo Credit: Robert Shomler