The Dallas Opera Guild 2016 Vocal Competition winners!

Talented young singers competed for prestige and prize money in pursuit of successful opera careers.  


Mezzo-Soprano Virginie Verrez

Takes Top Prize and $10,000 Cash!


Second Place ($5,000) Goes to Tenor Kang Wang


Third Place ($2,500) Awarded to Baritone Sol Jin


The “People’s Choice Award” (An Additional $1,000)

Goes to Kang Wang


Read the full press release here 

These talented singers will competed for prestige and financial support to pursue their operatic careers.  

The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition returned for its 28th year in a re-envisioned and expanded format.  The Guild is accepted applications from residents of all 50 states and U.S. Territories.  Finalists performed with The Dallas Opera Orchestra under the baton of renowned Music Director Emmanuel Villaume. 

Plan to attend and support these talented young artists as they compete live, on stage for thousands of dollars in front of a blue-ribbon panel of judges—and music lovers just like you!  Be among the first to experience these future stars of the opera world performing in a world-class venue — and vote for your favorite to be honored with the coveted “People’s Choice Award!”

Acclaimed pianist, arts administrator, adjudicator and educator Brian Zeger  returned as Chair of the Judges Panel for the 2016 Vocal Competition. On the faculty of The Julliard School since 1993 and Artistic Director of Vocal Arts at Julliard since 2004, Dr. Zeger is also the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Commented Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, “The Dallas Opera is delighted to be working once more with Dr. Zeger and partnering closely with The Dallas Opera Guild to build on the success we had last season. Dr. Zeger brings an enviable reputation as a pianist, coach, and arts administrator, and we are honored to work with him, side-by-side, to elevate this competition to exciting new heights of artistry and entertainment.” Dr. Zeger will work closely with a judge’s panel that will include Mr. Cerny, acclaimed Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume and Artistic Administrator Ian Derrer.  Also returning in 2016 will be Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition Chair Ketty Fitzgerald, who expects this year’s competition “to do even more to advance the careers of the best young singers in opera. That is our ultimate goal, in taking this event to the next level.”

Judges list for the 2016 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition included

Brian Zeger, Chair
Executive Director for the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera and Artistic Director of Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts

Keith Cerny
Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO, The Dallas Opera

Emmanuel Villaume
Mrs. Eugene McDermott Music Director in honor of Graeme Jenkins, The Dallas Opera

Ian Derrer
Artistic Administrator, The Dallas Opera

Alain Lanceron
President, Warner Classics

Aidan Lang
General Director, Seattle Opera

David Lomeli
Assistant Artistic Administrator & Special Projects, The Dallas Opera

Leonore Rosenberg
Associate Artistic Administrator, The Metropolitan Opera

Diane Zola

Director of Artistic Administration, Houston Grand Opera 

About the Vocal Competition

The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition has helped launch the careers of singers including Clifton Forbis, Mary Dunleavy, Latonia Moore, Jesus Garcia, Scott Scully, Jennifer Black, Weston Hurt, Takesha Meshé Kizart, Steven LaBrie, Valerie Vinzant, Juan José Deléon, and John Holiday, Jr. Past winners have used the encouragement and financial support received throught the Guild Vocal Competition in a variety of ways:

  • advanced study at leading vocal institutes,
  • acceptance into young artists’ programs,
  • solid careers in opera,
  • acclaimed Metropolitan Opera débuts,
  • stellar international careers,
  • award-winning roles on Broadway, and
  • music faculty positions with leading universities.

Founded in 1957, the non-profit Dallas Opera Guild first established a formal program to support young singers in 1987, originally known as The Career Development Grant for Singers. That program evolved into The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition. Today, classically-trained U.S. singers between the ages of 21 and 32 compete once a year for industry recognition, career encouragement, the chance to perform on a world-class stage with Maestro Emmanuel Villaume and The Dallas Opera Orchestra, and significant cash awards—all before a live audience and a panel of judges representing some of the most prestigious opera companies in North America.


At the judges’ discretion (contingent on available funding), cash awards may be given to First, Second, and Third place winners; Encouragement Awards may also be given. The annual People’s Choice Award is bestowed on the audience favorite, determined by a Secret Ballot vote following the final contestant’s performance. Each year, funding must be raised anew to cover operating expenses and cash awards. Preparing for the annual event is a year-long process, organized and managed by Guild volunteers who donate hundreds of hours of their time, their talents, and their financial resources to help offset the costs. Loyal individuals and businesses in the community also underwrite many of the services, thereby increasing the amount of funding available to directly support these young singers. 

For only the second time in its history, the competition will be accepting applications from across the United States and its territories for the semi-final round; ultimately, up to six finalists will be chosen to sing with the full orchestra while competing for top prizes.

Cynthia Wildridge

Save the Date 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

and we’ll see you at the
Winspear Opera House for the
29th Annual Dallas Opera Guild
Vocal Competition

Donate to the Vocal Competition

Check out a list of
Past Winners

The 2016 Finalists 




Linda and John Gage were the 2016 Dallas Opera Vocal Competition Honorees for their dedicated service to The Dallas Opera, The Dallas Opera Guild and their community. 

For information regarding the 2017 competition please email