Some Enchanted Evening…

by Suzanne Calvin




There are toothpicks propping open my eyes, but it was, all in all, a terrific evening of song.  Read on for details while I try to spot my car in the snow….



            DALLAS, MARCH 21, 2010 –The Dallas Opera Guild concluded it’s 22nd annual competition for young opera singers late yesterday evening by awarding eight outstanding finalists (with Texas connections) a total of $16,750 in prize monies.

25-year-old Austin-born soprano Kiri Dyan Deonarine, a Baylor and Indiana University alumnus currently engaged in Houston Grand Opera’s Young Artist Program, lit up the stage during the finals round at Gooch Auditorium on the campus of UT Southwestern Medical Center with her glowing renditions of “Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln” from Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail and “Piangerò la sorte mia” from Händel’s Giulio Cesare accompanied by Jonathan Ware.

Ms. Deonarine was awarded her First Prize and $7,000 by this year’s honoree, Former Dallas Opera Guild President Nancy Ritter, money she says she’ll use chiefly to pay for “flying around the country to attend auditions.” 

This 2009 Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finalist and member of the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program has won numerous awards, including the 2008 Thomas Stewart Award for Vocal Excellence; First Place NATS Dallas/Ft. Worth Region, Division IX; and a Baylor Opera Theatre Outstanding Member Award.

Ms. Deonarine’s professional experience includes the role of Adina in student performances of L’elisir d’amore at Houston Grand Opera (2009), soloist in Faure’s Requiem with the Milwaukee Symphony (2010), Rose in Street Scene (scenes) at Santa Fe Opera and covering major roles at both Santa Fe and Houston Grand Opera.  Her current coaches are Stephen King and Kim Josephson and, in her downtime, she enjoys sky-diving with her husband.


21-year-old soprano Amanda Woodbury, currently working towards a vocal performance degree at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, spent last semester in Vienna, studying and coaching opera repertoire with an assistant conductor of the Vienna State Opera.  Locally, she has studied voice with Dana Frances of the Dallas Opera Chorus and Dr. Mozelle Sherman of Baptist Theological Seminary.

Ms. Woodbury was an Ohio District winner in both the 2008 and 2010 Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions and is the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards.  At this year’s Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, Ms. Woodbury delighted audiences with renditions of “Je veux vivre dans ce rêve” from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette and “O quante volte ti chiedo” from Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi accompanied by Jonathan Ware.

Competition Chairman Don Jones presented the $5,000 Second Prize.


            25-year-old SMU graduate student, Juan José de León, a Dallas Opera/SMU Emerging Artist (2008-2010) who earned his undergraduate degree at the University of North Texas, will go on to the Young Artists program at Glimmerglass next summer.  Last night, he wowed attendees with his seemingly effortless rendition of “Ah!  Mes amis” from Donizetti’s La fille du regiment, followed by “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön” from Die Zauberflöte by Mozart. 

Mr. de León was awarded the Third Place prize of $3,000 by The Dallas Opera Guild’s Singers Chair Fran Burke.  This marked his second appearance in the annual competition, taking home an encouragement award in 2009.  He was also the recent recipient of the Seagle Music Colony Scholarship and a District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (2009).


            For the twelfth consecutive year, opera lovers attending the daylong program were encouraged to cast their ballots for the “People’s Choice Award,” a $1,000 prize which went to 30-year-old soprano Katie Bolding, a member of the Dallas Opera Chorus and 2008 finalist in the Guild Vocal Competition.  Ms. Bolding has also performed as a soloist in the Dallas Symphony Christmas Concert Series, for the Puccini Society, and in principal roles with the SUNY-Purchase Opera in New York, Operafestival di Roma, and Regal Opera and has a host of upcoming engagements, including the Oklahoma Mozart Festival and a master class with Paul Sperry for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.  The multifaceted Ms. Bolding, a finalist in the 2008 competition, has recorded three albums of original music and teaches voice, guitar, piano, music and German.

            In addition to her “People’s Choice Award,” she received an additional $150 as a finalist in this year’s competition.  Ms. Bolding performed moving renditions of “Caro nome” from Verdi’s Rigoletto and “Regnava nel silenzio” from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, accompanied by Jonathan Ware.


            Five finalists (including the winner of the “People’s Choice Award”) were honored with $150 grants:

Soprano Katie Bolding, age 30

Bass-baritone Noel Bouley, age 26

Soprano Jennifer Hendrickson, age 24

Soprano LaDonna Jackson, age 30

Bass Djoré Nance, age 29


Judges for the semifinal and finals round were Anthony Freud, General Director of Houston Grand Opera; Charles MacKay, General Director of Santa Fe Opera; Joshua Winograde, Acting Director, Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, Los Angeles Opera; and from The Dallas Opera, Artistic Director Jonathan Pell, who also serves as artistic advisor to this eagerly anticipated annual competition.

Mr. Winograde told the audience “It’s a real pleasure to hear such incredible singing.  You Texans should be proud of your ‘crop’.”

There was a general consensus that it was a tough field of competitors in 2010.  Mr. Freud agreed: “It’s been a very, very impressive day….Competitions are strange creatures, artificial environments, but I hope all of us involved can make them special for every singer who participates.”


            This year’s honoree, Dallas Opera Guild Past President Nancy Ritter, has served in many different capacities for the Dallas Opera Guild as Chair of the Fall Fair and Follies, Guild Vice-President for Education, Guild Boutique volunteer and as an active planner and participant in the Guild’s annual vocal competition since 1990.

            For the past two decades (and then some), Ms. Ritter has also devoted her considerable energies to The Women’s Board of the Dallas Opera and the Dallas Theater Center.  She was honored last night for her tireless dedication to the arts and the Dallas Opera.

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.


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 will make his official Dallas Opera debut next 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.”









Connie Klemow

In Memory of Jerry Klemow


James Seitz


Nancy and Wayne Ritter


Sheila Harms Memorial Fund





Anne Bell

Helen Boehning

Patti and John T. Cody, Jr.

William J. Hendrix

John McCafferty and Lorraine Sear

Phyllis and Tom McCasland, Jr.

Leria and Greg McConeghy

Jane and David McGinnis

State Farm Foundation Good Neighbor Grant

Angela Paulos

The Wagner Society

Jean and George Wagner




Marnie and Dr. Kern Wildenthal

Roger S. Hodge

The Sheila Harms Fund

Anne Bell

Susan Fleming

The Four Seasons Garden Club of Dallas



One Response to Some Enchanted Evening…

Jean Felsted says: March 21, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Thank for wonderful recap of the evening and especially followup on previous winners. I’ve read, in addition, that 2nd place winner Nathaniel Peake 2008 was a Met Natl Council 2010 winner: “New York, NY (March 14, 2010) – The Metropolitan Opera today announced the winners of the 2010 National Council Auditions. They are: Leah Crocetto of Oxford, Connecticut; Lori Guilbeau of Golden Meadow, Lousiana; Elliot Madore of Toronto, Canada; Nathaniel Peake of Humble, Texas; and Rachel Willis-Sørensen of Tri-Cities, Washington. ” Nice addition to our ever-growing list of winners!