The 27th Annual
“Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition”
Awards $18,500 in Cash Prizes!
Second-Year Ryan Opera Center Baritone Anthony Clark Evans
Takes Top Prize and $10,000 Cash!
Second Place ($5,000) and the “People’s Choice Award” (Additional $1,000) Goes to Mezzo-Soprano J’nai Bridges
Third Place ($2,500) Awarded to
Mezzo-Soprano Sarah Mesko
Expanded Competition Honored Enika and Richard Schulze for their Leadership and Generous Support of The Dallas Opera, The Dallas Opera Guild, and Other Worthy Causes
DALLAS, APRIL 19, 2015 – Eighteen semi-finalists, selected from an extraordinary group of 362 applicants from all parts of the country, competed this past weekend for significant cash prizes (totaling $18,500) and the opportunity to perform onstage live with The Dallas Opera Orchestra under the baton of acclaimed Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume.
The Finals Round of the 27th Annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition concluded late tonight—Sunday, April 19th—in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center with the announcement of the winners:
- The $10,00 First Prize, presented by Dallas Opera Guild President Susan Fleming in memory of Bessylee Penland, went to baritone Anthony Clark Evans
- The $5,000 Second Place Prize, presented by Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition Chair Ketty Fitzgerald, went to mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges
- The Third Place Prize of $2,500, presented by incoming Dallas Opera Guild Board Presidents Mac and Jana Irwin, went to mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko
- The $1,000 “People’s Choice Award,” presented by Dallas Opera Guild Treasurer Holly Mayer, went to mezzo J’nai Bridges
Baritone Anthony Clark Evans, a native of Kentucky now in his second year at the Ryan Opera Center in Chicago, emerged as a Grand Finals winner of the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions while working as a car salesman. Subsequently, the extraordinary young singer earned the top prizes in the 2013 Gerda Lissner Vocal Competition and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Competition, as well as a 2014 Sullivan Award, an award from the American Opera Society and a Sara Tucker Study Grant.
Mr. Evans, who studied at Murray State University, recently debuted at the Ravinia Festival and with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Last season at Lyric Opera of Chicago, this thrilling young baritone debuted in Otello, leading to additional roles in Madama Butterfly, La traviata and Rusalka, as well as Capriccio and Tosca during the 2014-15 Season.
He wooed the Dallas audience during yesterday’s semi-finals with his initial offering, Zurga’s aria, “L’orage s’est calmé” from Act III of Georges Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles (“The Pearl Fishers”) followed by “Si può? Si può?” – Tonio’s dramatic entrance in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci.
During tonight’s Finals Round, Mr. Evans held the audience spellbound with his rendition of “O du, mein holder Abendstern” from Wagner’s Tannhäuser; a spirited reprise of Tonio’s emotional aria sparked a hugely enthusiastic audience response. He performed both arias with The Dallas Opera Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Emmanuel Villaume, who also served on the judges’ panel.
Mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges, winner of both the Second Place Prize and the “People’s Choice Award,” is a recent graduate of the Ryan Opera Center and has been selected as the 2015 U.S. representative to the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. Her recent roles at Lyric Opera of Chicago include Inez in Il trovatore and the role of Vlasta in Weinberg’s The Passenger (not to mention “The Second City Guide to the Opera”).
During Saturday’s semi-finals, Ms. Bridges dazzled the audience with richly voiced renditions of “O ma lyre immortelle” from Gounod’s Sapho and the famous Habanera, “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle,” from Bizet’s Carmen.
During this evening’s Finals Round, Ms. Bridges gave masterful performances of the aria from Sapho followed by The Composer’s aria: “Sein wir wieder gut” from the prologue to Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss.
Mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko, who joined the Metropolitan Opera roster this season covering the role of Malcolm in the new production of La donna del lago, will make her Glimmerglass debut this summer in Vivaldi’s Catone in Utica. She will also appear in baroque concerts with Ars Lyrica in Houston. This graduate of Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program is a George London Award winner and a national finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
For the Semi-Final Round, Ms. Mesko began with “Mura felici” from Rossini’s La donna del lago followed by an electrifying “Adieu, fière cite” from Berlioz’ Les Troyens.
During tonight’s finals, Ms. Mesko excited the audience with her powerful “Crude furie degl’orridi abissi” from Handel’s Xerxes before regaling the house with a welcome encore of “Adieu, fière cite.”
All agreed that the level of competition was extremely high in this year’s newly expanded national competition. Other changes included the orchestral accompaniment in the Finals Round as well as the addition of supertitles to enable even the most casual music lover to catch every nuance and enjoy every word.
This free, spring musical event has become a favorite among opera aficionados and vocal music lovers across North Texas. This year’s competition honored longtime Dallas Opera and Dallas Opera Guild supporters Enika and Richard Schulze for their exceptional leadership and generous support of the performing arts (and many other note-worthy causes).
FINALISTS FOR THE 2015 DALLAS OPERA GUILD VOCAL COMPETITION
John Brancy, baritone, graduate of The Juilliard School
J’nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano, Ryan Opera Center (Lyric Opera of Chicago)
Jungwon Choi, soprano, Chambre Professionnelle des Directeurs d’Opera Special Prize
Anthony Clark Evans, baritone, winner, Metropolitan Opera Nat. Council Auditions
Sarah Mesko, mezzo-soprano, graduate, Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program
Elizabeth Sutphen, soprano, The Juilliard School
For additional information about the 27th Annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition or any upcoming Dallas Opera Guild programs and special events, please contact The Dallas Opera Guild at 214-443-1040.
Judges for the 2015 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition:
Brian Zeger, Chair
Artistic Director of Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts and Executive Director for the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera
General Director and CEO of The Dallas Opera
Music Director, The Dallas Opera
Artistic Administrator, The Dallas Opera
Artistic Administrator, The Metropolitan Opera
Director of Artistic and Music Planning, San Francisco Opera
Director of Artistic Administration, Lyric Opera of Chicago
Senior Director of Artistic Planning, Los Angeles Opera
“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.”
UNDERWRITERS OF THE 2015 COMPETITION:
AT&T PERFORMING ARTS CENTER & STAFF
HODGE PRINTING COMPANY
THE SAXTON GROUP/MCALLISTER’S DELI
KATHERINE & MICHAEL PHILLIPS
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