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Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition Semi-finalists Announced

The Dallas Opera Guild will present the 23rd annual "Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition," a showcase for talented young opera singers who either come from Texas or got here "as fast as they could" on Saturday, May 14, 2011 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201.

This marks the first time this eagerly awaited competition will be held in the acoustically acclaimed Winspear Opera House.There is no charge for admission to any part of the event (although donations are definitely welcome), and Lexus Red Garage parking is available FREE for the Semi-final Round, from 11:30 AM until 4:00 PM. There will be a $15.00 parking fee for the Finals Round of the Guild competition, which gets underway at 7:30 PM that same evening; however, local opera lovers can obtain a significantly discounted price for self-parking by going to In the code box, enter VOCAL, click on the arrow to the right, and follow additional instructions to obtain your print-on-demand parking coupon.

Twenty-one semi-finalists (aged 21 to 30) chosen from a field of nearly 60 qualified applicants will compete for thousands of dollars in prize monies ($19,000 was awarded in 2007, 2009, and 2010) at this year's competition honoring Patti Cody, a longtime supporter of the Dallas Opera, The Women's Board and the Dallas Opera Guild.

The competition is open to singers genuinely desiring to pursue a career in the field of opera. They must be current Texas residents or out-of-state residents attending a Texas college or university.

Judges for this year's event include:

· Daniel Biaggi, General Director of Palm Beach Opera
· Andreas "Andy" Melinat, Director of Artistic Administration, Lyric Opera of Chicago
· Christina C. Scheppelmann, Director of Artistic Operations, Washington National Opera
· Joshua Winograde, Artistic Administrator, Los Angeles Opera and Director of the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program
· And from The Dallas Opera, Artistic Director Jonathan Pell, who also acts as artistic advisor to this eagerly anticipated annual competition.

"Of all the things I do, over the course of the year, this vocal competition gives me the greatest level of personal satisfaction," admits Mr. Pell.

"It is the direct expression of everything I feel about the opera business and how it works to nurture, foster and develop young talent," he adds. "The Dallas Opera Guild has made major contributions to quite a few struggling young singers who have gone on to forge significant international opera careers."

Preliminary judges for this year's competition included SMU Meadows School of the Arts Professor of Voice Virginia Dupuy; Music Director of the University of North Texas Opera Program, Stephen Dubberly, who also serves as Chorus Master and Associate Conductor of Fort Worth Opera; and Dallas Opera pianist and vocal coach Michael Heaston, who will be returning to Glimmerglass Opera as Program Director of the prestigious Young American Artists Program.

The singers in both the semi-final and finals rounds will be accompanied by Dallas Opera pianist and vocal coach Julian Reed and SMU accompanist and faculty vocal coach Jason Smith.

"There's an extra touch of excitement in the air, in anticipation of this year's Vocal Competition," says Dallas Opera Guild Competition Chair Sylvia Elton. "The opportunity to sing onstage in the Winspear Opera House attracted so many outstanding singers with such excellent résumés, that our preliminary round judges were ‘hard-pressed' to reduce the list of qualified candidates to just twenty-one."

"While I didn't envy them that task," she adds, "it means that the real winners of the 2011 Vocal Competition will be those lucky enough to be in the audience when the next generation of opera artists proves that this magnificent stage is exactly where they belong!"

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

This year's honoree, Patti Cody, the wife of two-time interim General Director John T. Cody, Jr., has been a particular champion of the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition and one of its most enthusiastic and hard-working volunteers.

Patti's smiling demeanor, her intelligence, her incredible energy and witty approach to opera boosterism have made her a familiar and reassuring sight to Dallas Opera patrons, as well as an invaluable asset to the company and all its auxiliary organizations.
In short, she's one of a kind.

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 hear exceptional up-and-coming talents, in free performances.
This year's Semi-finalists are:

· Bass-baritone Noel Bouley, age 27
· Mezzo-soprano Wendy Boyce, age 30
· Baritone Adam Cannedy, age 26
· Soprano Dee Donasco, age 28
· Soprano Katrina Galka, age 21
· Baritone Juan Galvin, age 27
· Baritone Norman Garrett, age 29
· Soprano Julie-Anne Hamula, age 27
· Counter-tenor John Holiday, Jr., age 26
· Mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm, age 23
· Baritone Ye Young Lee, age 27
· Soprano Julie Marx, age 23
· Soprano Kristen Mata, age 28
· Soprano Audra Methvin, age 24
· Baritone Najabulo Mthinkhulu, age 29
· Tenor Scott Quinn, age 30
· Tenor Ian José Ramirez, age 23
· Baritone Brent Turner, age 27
· Soprano Suzanne Vinnik, age 24
· Soprano Maren Weinberger, age 21
· Soprano Angela Yoon, age 26

"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's Choice 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 21st annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, please contact The Dallas Opera Guild at 214-443-1040.

Select Stars of Earlier Competitions
Clifton Forbis (tenor), winner of our second annual Vocal Competition in 1990, has forged a dynamic international career. He sang the title role of Samson in Samson et Dalila at San Francisco Opera and Siegmund in the Canadian Opera Company's 2006 production of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen to open their new Four Seasons Opera House. He also performed Act I of Die Walküre in January 2006 with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. Mr. Forbis has sung Otello at La Scala and in numerous productions at the Metropolitan Opera and other important theaters around the world and - most notably - brought his interpretation of the role to open the new Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at The Dallas Center for the Performing Arts in October of 2009.

1998 First Prize winner Latonia Moore (soprano), who also captured the inaugural People's Choice Award that year, brought the audience to their feet in her memorable 2004 Dallas Opera debut as Micaela in Bizet's Carmen, earning the Maria Callas Award for The Dallas Opera debut of the year. She "triumphed as a radiant-voiced Micaela" recreating that role for her debut with the New York City Opera. The New York Times wrote of "her radiant, warm sound and lovely phrasing," saying, "What she has already is special: a distinctive, poignant sound that makes an audience sit up." She made her Carnegie Hall debut in the title role of L'Arlesiana for Opera Orchestra of New York and recently made her debut at London's Covent Garden as Liu in Turandot.

Jesus Garcia (tenor) competed in The Dallas Opera Guild's Vocal Competition in 1996, 1997, and 1999, winning Second Place that year. Long a favorite of Guild members, Jesus studied at the University of North Texas before attending the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2001 who starred as Rodolfo in Baz Luhrman's La bohème on Broadway, Jesus has also sung the Berlioz Requiem at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the role of Prince Ramiro in La Cenerentola with the Washington National Opera at Kennedy Center, as well as in School matinee performances for The Dallas Opera. Mr. Garcia has performed at the Spoleto Festival, Houston Grand Opera, and Bordeaux Opera (France), among other venues.

Third Place winner Steven LaBrie (baritone) barely met the age requirement to enter our 2006 competition, then walked away with both the People's Choice Award and a special Mozart Aria award given by TDO's former General Director Karen Stone in honor of the composer's 250th birthday. His win propelled him into a coveted spot at AVA, where he performed roles in Il barbiere de Siviglia and Eugene Onegin, in addition to his role as Antonio in Le Nozze de Figaro with The Living Opera. He went on to take First Place in an historic tie with baritone Michael Sumuel in the 2009 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition and made his official Dallas Opera debut this season in the role of Paris in Gounod's Romeo and Juliet.

Tenor Scott Scully, winner of the 2000 People's Choice Award, has sung with Opera Ontario (Canada), San Francisco Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and Arizona Opera and recently made his Dallas Opera debut in Lohengrin. He was a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and the San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program. Very active in concert, he has sung Carmina Burana with the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Ballet, Falstaff and Billy Budd with the Cleveland Orchestra, and has collaborated with a list of illustrious conductors. In addition to the Dallas Opera Guild award, he received the Pavarotti award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, among others.

Jennifer Black (soprano), winner of our 2001 Vocal Competition and the People's Choice Award, has participated in the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. In 2006, she made her debut with the New York City Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, and sang at Carnegie Hall. She was previously a National Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and was described by The New York Times as "a sensitive, rich-voiced soprano." This season at the Metropolitan Opera she sings leading roles in Adriana Lecouvreur and La sonnambula.

Angela Neiderloh (mezzo soprano), Second Place winner of the 2002 competition, spent three years in the Houston Grand Opera Studio, and has sung with the San Francisco Opera Center, Wolf Trap Opera, and the Houston Grand Opera. Her concert credits include solos with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, and the Columbia Symphony, among others. The New York Times has praised her as "an engaging coloratura mezzo-soprano."

Marjorie Owens, First Place winner of the 2002 competition and the People's Choice Award, was a winner of the 2006 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She was a member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago's Lyric Opera Center for Young Artists, after spending three years with the Houston Grand Opera Studio. She has performed with the Fort Worth Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera in Washington, D.C., and the Aspen Opera Theater. The New York Times included Marjorie in their compilation of "the upcoming Great Big American Voices."

Winner of the 2003 People's Choice Award, Erik Nelson Werner (baritone) has sung with the Dallas Opera, Fort Worth Opera, New York City Opera and Opera Orchestra of New York, and has sung extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe. He performed at Carnegie Hall in February 2007, and has won numerous awards throughout the years, including the Brahms Competition in Graz, Austria, and the Geneva International Music Competition. He has re-trained and has recently re-launched his career as a tenor.

Baritone Weston Hurt, winner of both our 2005 Vocal Competition and the People's Choice Award, has performed throughout the United States and Latin America and made his debut with The Dallas Opera in last season's production of La bohème. He debuted with the New York City Opera in 2006, and has also sung with the Opera Orchestra of New York, and the National Symphony at Wolf Trap. His 2007 engagements included the Arizona Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, and the role of Baldassare in L'Arlesiana with the Opera Orchestra of New York. A graduate of the Juillard Opera Center, he has won numerous awards, including Opera Index, Inc., Palm Beach Opera Competition, two career grants from the Santa Fe Opera, and was a finalist for the Sara Tucker Career Grant.

John Boer (baritone) from the 2006 competition is currently a resident artist with the Palm Beach Opera Company. He was a Second Place winner in the Southwest Regional Finals of the Metropolitan Opera's National Council audition, a previous fellow of the Tanglewood Music Festival, and was in the Santa Fe Opera Young Artist Program and participated in the Santa Fe Opera's Spring Tour of 2007.

First Place winner Takesha Meshé Kizart (soprano, 2006) signed with artistic manager Tim Menah of Askonas Holt, Ltd. in London and recently appeared in the title role of Tosca for The Dallas Opera's 2008 School Performances which led to her U.K. debut in the role at Opera North in Leeds. A former vocal performance honors student at UNT, she has won numerous competitions throughout the world, including national semi-finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Marian Anderson Historical Society, Mario Lanza Institute Vocal Scholarship Competition, Opera Index, and the Voci Verdiane International Competition in Busseto, Italy, where she became the first African-American to ever win the Grand Prize.

Tenor Scott Quinn, who tied for Second Place in the 2008 competition, served as The Dallas Opera's "Young Artist in Residence" the following year, singing principal roles in several mainstage productions, including Roberto Devereux (Lord Cecil) and La bohème (Parpignol).

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