24th Annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition

by Suzanne Calvin

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Contact: Suzanne Calvin
Or Megan Meister

The Dallas Opera Guild Presents
The 24th Annual
Dallas Opera Guild
Vocal Competition
Honoring Elaine and Bill Blaylock
The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House
At the AT&T Performing Arts Center
2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201

Free Admission

~~ Semi-final Round Begins at 11:30 AM ~~
Free Daytime Parking in Lexus Red Garage

DALLAS, JANUARY 31, 2012 –The Dallas Opera Guild is proud to present the 24th Annual “Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition,” an on-stage showcase for talented young opera singers with Texas connections on Saturday, March 10, 2012 in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201.
This marks only the second time this eagerly anticipated vocal 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 discount for self-parking by going to http://dallasopera.org/vocalcompetition. Click on the “Buy Parking” button and then, in the promo code box, enter the word VOCAL before clicking on the “Submit” link. Follow additional instructions to obtain your print-on-demand parking coupon for this event.
Twenty-four semi-finalists (aged 22 to 30) chosen from a field of fifty qualified applicants will compete for thousands of dollars in prize monies ($19,000 was awarded in 2007, 2009, and 2010; $20,500 in 2011) at this year’s competition, open to singers preparing for 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:

• Scott Altman, General Director of Arizona Opera
• Sheri Greenawald, Opera Center Director, San Francisco Opera
• Christopher Hahn, General Director of Pittsburgh Opera
• Robin Thompson, Arts Consultant, Virginia Opera and additional companies
• 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 opera season, the vocal competition is one of the things I look forward to the most, because it gives me an enormous sense of personal satisfaction,” explains Mr. Pell.
“Being able to help identify, nurture, and develop young talent is the most wonderful part of my job,” Mr. Pell adds. “The Dallas Opera Guild Competition has helped quite a few struggling young singers, many of whom have gone on to forge significant international opera careers. People like Clifton Forbis, who is here rehearsing the role of Tristan in Tristan & Isolde and Latonia Moore, who opens our next season in the Winspear Opera House in the title role of Aida.”

The Dallas Opera Guild is pleased to announce that the Honorees for the 24th Annual Vocal Competition are Elaine and Bill Blaylock. The Blaylocks have been involved with The Dallas Opera and The Dallas Opera Guild in positions of leadership and service for many years. During their term as co-presidents of The Dallas Opera Guild in 1999-2000, the Bessylee Penland Endowment Fund was established to benefit the Vocal Competition.

Preliminary judges for this year’s competition included Vocal Coach/Pianist and Translator Martha Gerhart, who teaches both voice and diction at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts; Angela Wilson, professional opera singer and instructor of Voice at Texas Christian University; and Dallas Opera Head of Music Staff Michael Heaston, who also serves as Head of Music Staff and Program Director of the prestigious Young American Artists Program at Glimmerglass Opera.
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.

“Fred and I have been impressed with the extraordinary level of talent revealed by these young Texas singers,” admits Dallas Opera Guild Competition Co-Chair Sandi Ciarochi. “It’s been both humbling and rewarding to listen to their entry CDs, to learn about their personal experiences to date, to witness their resolve and—above all—to share their obvious joy when they learn that they’ve been selected to compete as semi-finalists.”
“It’s also incredibly reassuring to see parents and grandparents,” she adds, “bringing their children and grandchildren to this competition as a means of introducing them to Opera. Aficionados understand that when they share that love of the art form with the next generations, it enriches them both.”

“With funding for the arts rapidly diminishing,” explains Guild Competition Co-Chair Fred Ciarochi, “it’s great to have this opportunity to recognize, honor and promote homegrown talent, particularly when you realize how many of our Guild Vocal Competition singers go on to become nationally and internationally recognized.
“Just sitting in the audience is a thrilling experience and when audience members cast their personal votes for the ‘People’s Choice’ award, you can detect how passionate people become when singers’ careers are at stake.”

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

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 in a magnificent setting.

This year’s Semi-finalists are:

• Rachel Alexander, age 22, mezzo-soprano
• Vanessa Becerra, age 22, soprano
• Laura Begley, age 23, mezzo-soprano
• John Boehr, age 29, baritone
• Adam Cannedy, age 27, baritone
• Claudia Chapa, age 28, mezzo-soprano
• Ashley Cutright, age 26, mezzo-soprano
• Corrie Donovan, age 26, soprano
• Heather Hawk, age 29, soprano
• Joel Herold, age 29, baritone
• Jeawook Lee, age 29, tenor
• Justin Manalad, age 26, baritone
• Julie Marx, age 23, soprano
• Audra Methvin, age 25, soprano
• Njabulo Mthimkhulu, age 30, baritone
• Ian José Ramirez, age 24, tenor
• Elisabeth Rosenberg, age 29, soprano
• Sarah Parnicky, age 24, soprano
• Sinae Song, age 28, soprano
• Xiaobo Su, age 30, soprano
• Sarah Tucker, age 24, soprano
• Ashley Renée Watkins, age 27, soprano
• Jennifer Whalen, age 28, soprano
• Amanda Woodbury, age 24, soprano

“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.”

The Underwriting Co-Chairmen for the event are Bilye Werner and Jeanette Wharton.
This free, spring musical event has become a favorite among opera aficionados and vocal music lovers across North Texas. For additional information about the 24th 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 and returns this February in one of the title roles of Tristan & Isolde.

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 and returns there in the title role of Verdi’s Aida, the role in which she will return to the TDO stage next fall.

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.” Last season at the Metropolitan Opera she sang 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 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.

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). He continues to sing roles for us today, including a recent appearance as Normanno in TDO’s revival of Lucia di Lammermoor.

Last year’s First Place winner, 26-year-old countertenor John Holiday, Jr., a 2007 graduate of Southern Methodist University now working towards a master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (2012), wowed judges and audience members alike with his extraordinary renditions of “Crude furie” from Händel’s Serse and “Che farò senza Euridice” from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, which showcased the exceptional beauty and timbre of his unusual vocal type. And he took critics by storm in December’s production of “A Gathering: The Dallas Arts Community Reflects on 30 Years of AIDS.” Performing “Ave Maria,” Mr. Holiday, wrote Mark Lowry of “Theater Jones,” gave a performance “that had to be heard to be believed.”




For high-resolution, digital photographs suitable for print
To arrange an interview
Or for additional information
Please contact Suzanne Calvin, Manager/Director Media & PR
214.443.1014 or suzanne.calvin@dallasopera.org



Ticket Information for the 2011-2012 Dallas Opera Season

All performances (unless noted) are in the acoustically acclaimed Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. FLEX subscriptions (three performances) begin at $75. Single tickets start at just $25. For more information or to make your purchase, contact the friendly staff at The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or visit us online at www.dallasopera.org. Principal cast members and events may be subject to change. All ticket sales are final.

The Dallas Opera celebrates its Fifty-Fifth International Season in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in downtown Dallas. With the exception of Tristan & Isolde, evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees will begin at 2:00 p.m. Tristan’s evening performances will start at 7:00 p.m. and matinees at 2:00 p.m. Performances of The Lighthouse (new chamber opera series) will take place in the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre located directly across Flora street from the Winspear in the AT&T Performing Arts Center. English translations will be projected above the stage at every performance. Assistance is available for the hearing impaired.

TRISTAN & ISOLDE by Richard Wagner
February 16, 19(m), 22 & 25, 2012
A fully staged, updated new production with projections by Moby-Dick’s Elaine J. McCarthy!
Ancient Myths, Modern Cine-Magic! A special Thursday night Opening with a special curtain time for all evening performances: 7:00 p.m.!
An opera in two acts first performed in Munich, June 10, 1865.
Text by Richard Wagner, based on an ancient Celtic and Icelandic legend.
Time: Legendary
Place: A ship at sea; outside King Marke’s palace, Cornwall; Tristan’s castle at Kareol
Conductor: Graeme Jenkins
Stage Director: Christian Räth
Video Design: Elaine J. McCarthy
Lighting Design: Alan Burrett
Wig & make-up Design: David Zimmerman
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet (Isolde), Clifton Forbis (Tristan), Mary Phillips (Brangäne), Jukka Rasilainen** (Kurvenal), Kristinn Sigmundsson* (King Marke), Stephen Gadd** (Melot), and Aaron Blake (A Young Sailor/A Shepherd).

THE LIGHTHOUSE by Peter Maxwell Davies
Inaugural production of the Dallas Opera Chamber Series
Presented in collaboration with the Dallas Theater Center
In the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre at the AT&T Performing Arts Center
March 16, 17 & 18(m), 2012
A chilling supernatural and psychological thriller!
Time: December 1900
Place: Edinburgh Court of Enquiry, Fladda Isle Lighthouse off the Scottish coast
Conductor: Nicole Paiement*
Stage Director: Kevin Moriarty* (opera directorial debut)
Scenic Design: Beowulf Boritt*
Costume Design: Claudia Stephens*
Starring: (in order of vocal appearance:) Andrew Bidlack* (Officer 1/Sandy), Robert Orth (Officer 2/Blazes), and Daniel Sumegi (Officer 3/Arthur/Voice of the Cards).

LA TRAVIATA by Giuseppe Verdi
April 13, 15(m), 18, 21, 27 & 29(m), 2012
Let’s Party Like It’s 1849!
An opera in three acts first performed in Venice at Teatro La Fenice, March 6, 1853
Text by Francesco Maria Piave, based on Alexandre Dumas’ play, La dame aux camélias
Time: 19th century
Place: Paris
Conductor: Marco Guidarini
Stage Director: Bliss Hebert
Production Design: Allen Charles Klein
Lighting Design: Thomas Hase
Choreographer: Rosa Mercedes*
Wig & make-up Design: David Zimmerman
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Myrtò Papatanasiu** (Violetta Valéry), James Valenti (Alfredo Germont), Laurent Naouri* (Giorgio Germont), Amanda Crider* (Flora Bervoix), Timothy Mix* (Baron Douphol), Mark McCrory (Marchese D’Obigny), Ethan Herschenfeld* (Doctor Grenvil), and Susan Nicely (Annina).

April 20, 22(m), 25, 28, May 4 & 6(m), 2012
Hearts Tested, Tried and True!
An opera in two acts first performed in Vienna, September 30, 1791.
Text by Emanuel Schikaneder.
Time: Legendary
Place: Mythological Egypt
Conductor: Graeme Jenkins
Production: August Everding
Stage Director: Matthew Lata
Scenic Design: Jörg Zimmermann*
Costume Design: Renate Kalanke*
Lighting Design: Duane Schuler
Wig & make-up Design: David Zimmerman
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Children’s Chorus Master: Melinda Cotten
Starring: Ava Pine (Pamina), Shawn Mathey* (Tamina), Patrick Carfizzi (Papageno), L’ubica Vargicová* (The Queen of the Night), Raymond Aceto (Sarastro), Kevin Langan (The Speaker), David Cangelosi (Monostatos), Angela Mannino* (Papagena), Caitlin Lynch* (First Lady), Lauren McNeese* (Second Lady), Maya Lahyani* (Third Lady), Aaron Blake (First Man in Armour) and Darren K. Stokes* (Second Man in Armour).

* Dallas Opera Debut
** American Operatic Debut

The Dallas Opera is supported, in part, by funds from: City of Dallas, Office of Cultural Affairs; TACA; the Texas Commission on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). American Airlines is the official airline of The Dallas Opera. Lexus is the official vehicle of The Dallas Opera. Cartier is the official jeweler and watchmaker of The Dallas Opera. Rosewood Crescent Hotel is the official hotel of The Dallas Opera. Advertising support from The Dallas Morning News. A special thanks to Mrs. William W. Winspear and the Elsa von Seggern Foundation for their continuing support.


Comments are closed.