Outstanding Semi-Finalists Announced For Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition!
Twenty of the finest young opera singers in the United States will be competing in the 30th Annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition presented, jointly, by The Dallas Opera and The Dallas Opera Guild.
The artists will compete onstage in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas on April 27 & 28, 2018. At stake are thousands of dollars in cash awards and prestigious honors including the "People's Choice Award" selected during the Finals Round by audience ballot. The competition will serve as the centerpiece of The Dallas Opera's glamorous Springs Gala, an annual fundraising celebration of opera's fast-rising stars benefiting The Dallas Opera's highly acclaimed Education Program. Tens of thousands of children across North Texas benefit from this program.
The quest for these gifted young singers will begin with the Semi-Finals Round of the Vocal Competition at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, April 27, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. Tickets are free.
Six finalists will be selected to return the following evening for the Finals Round Saturday, April 28th at 7:30 p.m., to perform with The Dallas Opera Orchestra, conducted by the internationally renowned Emmanuel Villaume (The Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director). Tickets are $5 and available at the door, at www.dallasopera.org/vocal, or by calling 214-443-1000.
The Springs Gala features a gourmet dinner on Saturday, April 28, at 5:30 p.m.; one Vocal Competition Finals ticket with early seating (event begins at 7:30 p.m.); and an invitation to the festive post-competition celebration at the Winspear Opera House. Tickets start at $750 for a single ticket; tables are available starting at $7500. For more information about the 2018 Springs Gala, visit dallasopera.org/gala or contact Special Events Manager Tracy Mott at email@example.com. Proceeds will go to support the multifaceted education programs of The Dallas Opera, which serves thousands of students and teachers throughout the region.
Two great Dallas Opera traditions create one truly remarkable evening of music, competition and celebration! It is certain to be an affair-and a weekend-you won't want to miss!
This year, the twenty semi-finalists were selected from a group of 364 applicants from 35 states-and one competitor currently residing in Germany (residents of the U.S. territories are eligible to apply for the prestigious competition, as well) by a panel of preliminary judges that included American pianist and educator Dr. Brian Zeger of the Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at The Juilliard School, and David Lomeli, Casting and Hart Institute for Women Conductors Manager.
"We are very proud to collaborate with our Guild on this extraordinary showcase," says Kern Wildenthal, The Dallas Opera's Interim General Director and CEO. "This is a great opportunity for the entire community to experience opera's exciting 'next wave,' and to show their enthusiastic support for the dreams of these outstanding young artists who will be the opera stars of the future."
THE 2018 SEMI-FINALISTS
THE DALLAS OPERA GUILD VOCAL COMPETITION
· Lawson Anderson, bass-baritone, 1st Prize Gerda Lissner
· Anush Avetisyan, soprano, Opera Theater of Saint Louis Gerdine Young Artist Program, Academy of Vocal Arts
· Vanessa Becerra, soprano, Glimmerglass Artist
· Bille Bruley, tenor, Indiana University
· Alex DeSocio, baritone, San Francisco Merola Opera Program
· Patrick Guetti, bass, Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago
· Josh Lovell, tenor, Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago
· David Margulis, tenor, Marion Roose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio, Zurich Opera Studio
· Alyssa Martin, mezzo-soprano, Marion Roose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio, Glimmerglass Artist
· Lindsay Metzger, mezzo-soprano, Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago
· Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, countertenor, San Francisco Merola Opera Program, Houston Grand Opera Studio, San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship
· Richard Ollarsaba, bass-baritone, Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago
· Takaoki Onishi, baritone, Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago
· Toni Marie Palmertree, soprano, San Francisco Merola Opera Program, San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship
· David Pershall, baritone, San Francisco Merola Opera Program, Vienna Staatsoper Ensemble
· Alexandra Razskazoff, soprano, San Francisco Merola Opera Program, Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program, Minnesota Opera Resident Artist Program, Academy of Vocal Arts
· Mario A. Rojas Calleja, tenor, Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago
· Sarah Tucker, soprano, Marion Roose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio, Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program
· Julia Wolcott, soprano, Juilliard School of Music
· Xiaomeng Zhang, baritone, Juilliard School of Music
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 were eligible to apply and 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, J'nai Bridges, Anthony Clark Evans, Kang Wang, Virginie Verrez-and, most recently, Samantha Hankey (the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Finals winner), 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 didn't stop there:
· 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, now taking place on 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 theaterjones.com 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."
Dallas Opera Guild Co-Presidents Jan and James Clay explain, "Our exciting annual competition is the most high-profile facet of The Dallas Opera Guild's year-long 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!"
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."
Lexus Red Parking is available for just $5 at both the Semi-Finals Round, from 11:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 27 as well as the Finals Round of the competition the following evening, Saturday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Winspear Opera House.
The list of esteemed judges for the 2018 Vocal Competition reads like a music industry "Who's Who":
Judges for the 2019 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition:
Brian Zeger, Chair
Artistic Director of the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts
The Juilliard School
The Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director, The Dallas Opera
Vice President of Artistic Operations, The Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Associate Professor of Music, University of Michigan
Former Director of Music Studies, Vienna State Opera
President of Warner Classics
Vice President Artistic Planning, Lyric Opera of Chicago
Casting Director, Bavarian State Opera;
Casting Consultant, Glyndebourne Festival and Opéra de Lille
However, the judging isn't left entirely to the professionals; "amateur" music lovers will have the opportunity to express their views, too. Audience participation is part of the fun at each year's Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition. For the nineteenth consecutive year, attendees will be given the chance to vote on their personal favorites to receive the coveted "People's Choice Award."
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, it must grow and evolve. During these past three decades there have been many changes, including the additions of Encouragement Awards, a "People's Choice Award," and a significant name change to "The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition" in 2004.
From the initial grants program, the concept evolved into an annual competition that, until 2014, focused on vocalists with a Texas connection, both home-grown and temporary residents. 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 former 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 music administration and classical music.
The competition was expanded to take place over a two-day period. Participants in 2018 will be heard during Friday's semi-finals and the selected finalists will perform again Saturday evening, accompanied by The Dallas Opera Orchestra under the direction of the Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director Emmanuel Villaume.
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