Palm Springs Opera Guild's Annual Competition Features Eight Singers Vying For $40K In Prize Money

Palm Springs Opera Guild's Annual Competition Features Eight Singers Vying For $40K In Prize Money

Palm Springs Opera Guild, one of the longest-standing cultural institutions in the Coachella Valley, has selected eight emerging opera stars to compete at the upcoming 34th Annual Dorothy Nocita Memorial Palm Springs Vocal Competition on Sunday, December 3, 2017 from 3 - 5:30 PM. This annual free event provides an opportunity for eight emerging young opera singers to compete for nearly $40,000 in prizes, earn community recognition for their achievements, and advance their careers. The event will take place at the Helene Galen Performing Arts Center, located at 31001 Rattler Road in Rancho Mirage.

Vocal competitions like these enable emerging singers to perfect their craft and start to get recognition as they rise up in the ranks of operatic performance. Since 1983, more than 250 gifted young singers have participated in the Opera Guild's annual event, and many have gone on to achieve significant success in their field, including Sondra Radvanovsky, Joshua Guerrero, and Angela Meade. The annual Palm Springs Vocal Competition is sponsored in part by a generous gift in memory of Dorothy Nocita, a long-time supporter of Opera Guild programs.

Nearly $40,000 in prizes will be awarded at the competition, including $15,000 for First Place (sponsored by Ron Lavo), $7,500 for Second Place (sponsored by Peggy Cravens), $5,000 for Third Place (sponsored by William Galliker in memory of Mick Cressey and The Hoeppner/Richards Scholarship Fund), and $2,000 each for five runner up positions. In addition, finalists will compete for a $2,000 Audience Choice award (sponsored by Terry Hendrix in memory of Gracia Alkema).

At the competition on December 3, the eight finalists will have their performances judged by a distinguished panel of experts including Clare Burovac, Director of Artistic Operations at Portland Opera, Samuel Gelber, Artistic Administrator of LA Opera and Charles MacKay, General Director of Santa Fe Opera.

About the Finalists

Over the last few weeks, nearly 80 singers auditioned for the coveted eight slots in the Vocal Competition. All finalists are between the ages of 21 and 34 and currently reside in the western United States. They were selected for their superior voice quality, technique, interpretation, stage presence, and language skills.

The finalists are:

Soprano Carolyn Hoele, 30, earned her MM from Colorado State University in 2015 and has performed with the Vocal Arts Festival in Colorado Springs, Emerald City Opera, Seagle Music Colony and covered for Opera Theatre of the Rockies. She studied with the Royal Academy of Music in London and the American Institute for Musical Studies in Graz, Austria and competed in the Brava! Vail Valley Vocal Competition and the Denver Lyric Opera Guild Competition. Next year Ms. Hoele will be singing and covering new roles with Austin Opera and Local Opera Local Artists (LOLA) in Austin, Texas.

Soprano Liv Redpath, 25, completed her MM at The Juilliard School as a recipient of a Kovner Fellowship. She has won awards from the Licia Albanese Puccini Competition and The Juilliard School and is currently a Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist performing in a number of productions with LA Opera. She was an Apprentice Singer at Santa Fe Opera earlier this year and has sung with Aspen Opera Theater, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Lowell House Opera and covered at Wolf Trap. Ms. Redpath won the Rossini Award and Second Place at last year's Palm Springs Opera Guild Vocal Competition.

Soprano Lauren Michelle, 34, was a prize winner of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, won First Place in the Lotte Lenya Competition, was a finalist in the George London Competition and won prizes in The Francisco Viñas International Singing Competition, the Gerda Lissner Foundation Vocal Competition, and the Palm Springs Opera Guild Vocal Competition in 2015. Earlier this year she sang with Vienna State Opera, Venice Royal Opera and covered for LA Opera. Next year Ms. Michelle will perform with Welsh National Opera.

Soprano Alexandra Rodrick, 28, was a finalist in the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition earlier this year, a 2016 finalist in the Deborah Voigt Vero Beach Opera Foundation Inaugural International Vocal Competition and the recipient of the prestigious Phyllis Curtin Award at Boston University. She was the First Place winner of both the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus Young Artist Competition and Susan and Virginia Hawk Memorial Scholarship Competition in 2014, and a winner of the 2015 Musical Merit Competition of Greater San Diego. In 2013 Ms. Rodrick won first place in the Metropolitan National Council Auditions, San Diego District, and received an encouragement award at the MONC Western Regionals.

Mezzo-soprano Anne Marie Stanley, 25, received her MM from Rice University earlier this year. She was a finalist in the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition and won first place in the Franco-American Grand Concours Vocal Competition, among numerous other awards. She was a participant in the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Singer Program both in 2015 and was a Wolf Trap Opera Studio Artist in 2016. Ms. Stanley has also sung with Westminster Opera Theatre, Janiec Opera Company and Spoleto Festival USA.

Tenor Rafael Helbig-Kostka, 27, received this MM and Graduate diplomas from New England Conservatory. He was a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, New England Region earlier this year and received an Encouragement Award from MONC, San Francisco. He was a featured artist with Opera Theater Pittsburgh in 2015 and has sung with Boston Midsummer Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Portland Opera Workshop, and Townsend Opera Company. Mr. Helbig-Kostka was a Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis during the 2016-2017 season.

Tenor Carlos Enrique Santelli, 25, received his MM from the University of Michigan in 2016. He won First Prize at the Opera Guild of Dayton Tri-State Voice Competition, was a Jessye Norman Graduate Fellowship and took the Louis and Marguerite Bloomberg Greenwood Prize from Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He was a Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist with LA Opera and a member of the Apprentice Singer Program at Santa Fe Opera this past season. Mr. Santelli has covered roles for LA Opera and Santa Fe Opera and will be appearing next year with Dayton Opera and LA Opera.

Baritone Ben Lowe, 31, received his MM from UCLA after having studied at Pepperdine University and Cal State Dominguez Hills. He has spent the past three years studying in Payerbach, Austria focusing on vocal technique and performance and was a Vocal Fellow at the Music Academy of the West. He was a winner of the Marilyn Horne Song Competition in 2016. Mr. Lowe has performed in a number of UCLA Opera productions as well as with the Music Academy of the West, American Repertory Theater, and Opera Buffs of Los Angeles.

"We are thrilled to offer this competition for these very gifted young singers," said Bruce Johansen, Opera Guild President. "Vocal competitions like these enable emerging singers to perfect their craft and start to get recognition as they rise up in the ranks of operatic performance. Cultivating and encouraging emerging young opera singers has always been one of the core goals of the Opera Guild, and we are proud to continue this long-standing tradition."

Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert is a 501(c)(3) cultural organization which works to encourage and support young singers with financial assistance and performance opportunities and to promote opera in the community through student and adult Outreach programs. Their significant community programming includes the annual Dorothy Nocita Memorial Vocal Competition, the Annual Gala, Opera in the Park, and the annual Opera in the Schools program. For more information about Palm Springs Opera Guild, visit

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From This Author David Green

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