Applications Open for Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition

Applications Open for Dallas Opera Guild Vocal CompetitionThe Dallas Opera is pleased to announce that applications for the expanded Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, scheduled to take place on Friday, April 27, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. (the free Semi-Finals Round, open to the public) and Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. (Finals Round) are now being accepted.

Applications MUST be submitted via YAP Tracker, along with a $35 entry fee. Go to for the link. The deadline for applications is 11:59 p.m. (Central Time) on Monday, November 20, 2017.

Those chosen by preliminary round judges to advance to the competition semifinals in the acoustically acclaimed Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center will be personally notified in mid-January 2018, with a public announcement to follow in early February.

Competitors in the 2017 Competition took home prize monies totaling $18,500. Although this competition has as its primary focus artists in the 18 to 34 age range, singers of any age may apply and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition originally focused on young artists with Texas roots or Lone Star academic connections, and its many distinguished alumni include luminaries from throughout the opera world: Latonia Moore, Clifton Forbis, Marjorie Owens, Weston Hurt, Steven LaBrie, Amanda Woodbury, Jesus Garcia, Anthony Clark Evans, Kang Wang, Virginie Verrez and, most recently, Samantha Hankey, Laura Wilde and Kihun Yoon.

As the competition sought to gain even greater prominence and significance, The Dallas Opera and The Dallas Opera Guild made significant changes in 2015, prompting Dallas Morning News Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell to write that the competition had "considerably upped its ante." The evolution continued:

· In order to attract the most talented applicant pool with the greatest potential, the eligibility criteria for applicants changed. Today, it is open to residents of all 50 states and U.S. Territories, including international students attending American colleges, universities, and music conservatories. Also eligible are active members of any young artist program associated with an American Opera Company.

· The Finals Round, taking place on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 7:30 pm in the Winspear Opera House as part of The Dallas Opera's annual Springs Gala, will be accompanied by The Dallas Opera Orchestra, conducted by TDO's internationally acclaimed Music Director, EmManuel Villaume. Up to six finalists will participate, singing two arias each.

The impact of these changes was immediately perceived. Senior Classical Music Critic Gregory Sullivan Isaacs of wrote: "The results surely exceeded expectations for this newly re-envisioned competition...It won't take long to situate itself at the top of such events and become an important gold star on any young artist's résumé."

Judges for the expanded 30th Annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition will be drawn from distinguished performers and opera administrators including Keith Cerny, The Dallas Opera's Kern Wildenthal General Director & CEO and the Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director EmManuel Villaume.

The Dallas Opera is very pleased to announce the return of renowned arts administrator, educator and adjudicator Dr. Brian Zeger as Chair of the Judges Panel for the 2017 Vocal Competition. On the faculty of The Juilliard School since 1993 and Artistic Director of Vocal Arts at Juilliard since 2004, Dr. Zeger is also the former Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

A prominent broadcast professional and frequent guest on the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts, Dr. Zeger has also contributed critical essays for publications such as Opera News, Chamber Music Magazine and The Yale Review. He has participated in countless summer festivals: Ravinia, Santa Fe, Caramoor, Aldeburgh and Aspen, as well as the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival where he served as artistic director from 1993-2000. This native New Yorker has also adjudicated the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Concert Artists Guild Auditions and the Walter W. Naumberg Vocal Competition.

Commented General Director & CEO Keith Cerny: "The Guild Competition took a bold step forward in recent years and the result has been tremendously gratifying! EmManuel Villaume and The Dallas Opera Orchestra have brought a significant level of excitement to these performances and, clearly, have inspired our finalists to rise to the occasion.

"However, each competition brings an entirely new set of challenges along with fresh opportunities for success.

"The Dallas Opera is delighted to be working once more with Dr. Brian Zeger and partnering closely with The Dallas Opera Guild. Dr. Zeger brings an enviable reputation as a pianist, coach, and arts administrator, and we are honored to work with him, side-by-side, to continue our mission to elevate this competition to thrilling new heights."

Dallas Opera Guild Co-Presidents James and Jan Clay explain, "Our exciting annual competition is the most high-profile facet of The Dallas Opera Guild's yearlong commitment to support exceptionally talented young opera artists. The future of opera, not only in Texas-but throughout the world-is dependent on the discovery and development of bright new talent. The Guild takes that part of our mission very seriously and we encourage everyone in the community to turn out next spring to show their support for these fine young singers, as well!"

Dallas Opera Guild 2018 Vocal Competition Chairs Patsy and Bob Brooks write: "The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition gives singers pursuing a professional opera career the opportunity to showcase their talents and compete with other singers for financial rewards. Best of all is the chance to perform before a panel of distinguished judges celebrated throughout the opera world."


In February of 1987, then-Dallas Opera Guild Presidents Connie and Jerry Klemow proposed establishing a Guild-sponsored scholarship fund to financially assist qualified singers seeking a career in opera. With the approval of The Dallas Opera management and the enthusiastic support of Artistic Director Nicola Rescigno, a committee comprised of Pat Blankenship, Nora Sands and Maria Santarelli, chaired by Connie Klemow, was entrusted to formulate a plan. Soon, the committee welcomed the assistance of then-General Director Plato Karayanis, company dramaturg Roger Pines and Dallas Morning News Classical Music Critic John Ardoin.

Mr. Ardoin suggested a grants program be established in lieu of a scholarship fund or a competition. His suggestion was considered and the concept accepted. It was decided to focus on applicants from North Texas, ages 18-35 with some professional experience. Roger Pines named the program "The Career Development Grant for Singers" (CDGS) and after 20 months of planning the first CDGS program was presented on October 8, 1988 at SMU's Caruth Auditorium.

However, for any program to remain dynamic, change and growth must occur. During these past 27 years there have been many changes. From the initial grants program, the concept evolved into The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition which, until 2014, was focused on vocalists with a Texas connection, both natives and temporary residents. A "People's Choice Award" and Encouragement Awards were added and, today, financial awards are given directly to the winners to use at their discretion. Through this event, the Guild continues to recognize and honor members of The Dallas Opera community who have demonstrated a special interest in promoting the careers of talented young singers, or, have given exceptional support to The Dallas Opera and the Guild. Jonathan Pell, former Artistic Director of The Dallas Opera, led the Judge's panel for the first 26 years.

The vocal competition was significantly reimagined and expanded in its 27th year, under the leadership of Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, to allow applicants from all 50 states and U.S. Territories. Dr. Brian Zeger, Artistic Director of Juilliard's Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts and former Executive Director for the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera now chairs a judge's panel that includes leading figures in American Opera administration and classical music.

The competition was expanded to take place over a two-day period. Participants in 2018 will be heard during Saturday's semi-finals and the selected finalists will perform again Sunday evening, accompanied by The Dallas Opera Orchestra under the direction of the Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director EmManuel Villaume. Both events are held in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House in the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the Finals Round will be the highlight of the company's glamorous, annual Springs Gala.

The Dallas Opera Guild remains dedicated to its original commitment to recognize, honor and support exceptionally talented young singers. The distributed award monies are funded anew each year. Guild members graciously donate their time, energy, money and talents to ensure that this prestigious annual competition succeeds in cultivating the next generation of world-class artists.

Founded in 1957, The Dallas Opera is an internationally-recognized innovator dedicated to the overall advancement of the operatic art form and the support of established and emerging artists, as well as the education and development of new opera audiences in North Texas-and beyond. These goals are achieved by commissioning and producing world-class opera; through ground-breaking institutes, national competitions and topical programs; and by presenting opera in both traditional and non-traditional formats and venues in order to attract patrons of every age, background, educational level, and ethnicity-while engaging with more than 87,000 people in our community each year. TDO is equally committed to the task of responsible stewardship and is managed with efficiency and accountability, to the highest possible standards.

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