FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, February 8, 2019
Contact: Suzanne Calvin 214.443.1014
Twenty Semi-Finalists Have Been Selected
To Compete for Awards and Cash Prizes at The 31st Annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition
With The Dallas Opera Orchestra
Conducted by Riccardo Frizza
Emceed by Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin
Semi-Finals: Thursday, May 2, 2019 11 am
Finals Concert: Friday, May 3, 2019 7:30 pm
The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House
AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas, TX
2019 Co-Chairs Dr. Susan Fleming & Linda McKown
Honoring Holly and Dr. Tom Mayer
$5 Tickets and Information at dallasopera.org/vocal
DALLAS, TX, FEBRUARY 8, 2019 – Twenty of the finest young opera singers in the United States will be competing in the 31ST Annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition presented, jointly, by The Dallas Opera and The Dallas Opera Guild.
The artists will compete onstage in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas on Thursday, May 2 & Friday, May 3, 2019. At stake are thousands of dollars in generous cash awards and prestigious honors including the “People’s Choice Award” selected during the Finals Round by audience ballot.
The 2019 Guild Vocal Competition is being co-chaired by Susan Fleming, Ph.D., and Linda McKown and the Finals Round will be emceed by Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, a classically trained opera singer, composer, and advocate for the arts.
The quest for these gifted young singers will begin with the Semi-Finals Round of the Vocal Competition taking place on Thursday, May 2, 2019, from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Tickets are free and can be obtained at www.dallasopera.org/vocal.
Six finalists will be selected that day to return the following evening for the Finals Round Concert on Friday, May 3, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. At that time, the remaining competitors will perform with The Dallas Opera Orchestra, conducted by the internationally renowned Italian Maestro Riccardo Frizza, Music Director of the Donizetti Opera Festival in Bergamo, Italy.
Concert tickets are just $5 and available at the door, by calling The Dallas Opera Ticket Office at 214.443.1000, or online at www.dallasopera.org/vocal.
This year, the twenty semi-finalists were selected by a panel of preliminary judges that included American pianist and educator Dr. Brian Zeger of the Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at The Juilliard School, and David Lomeli, Director of Artistic Administration for The Dallas Opera. These semi-finalists were among a group of 307 applicants from 36 states.
THE 2019 SEMI-FINALISTS
THE DALLAS OPERA GUILD VOCAL COMPETITION
- Lindsay Kate Brown, mezzo-soprano, Houston Grand Opera Studio / Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice Artist Program
- Jeff Byrnes, baritone, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Gerdine Young Artists Program
- Anthony Ciaramitaro, tenor, Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program / Merola Opera Program
- Lauren Decker, contralto, The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago
- Ben Edquist, baritone, Houston Grand Opera Studio
- Calvin Griffin, bass-baritone, Marion Roose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio
- Pureum Jo, soprano, Houston Grand Opera Studio
- Meghan Kasanders, soprano, Artist Diploma in Opera Studies at the Juilliard School
- Andrew Manea, baritone, Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera
- Felicia Moore, soprano, Artist Diploma in Opera Studies at the Juilliard School
- Rafael Moras, tenor, Santa Fe Apprentice Program / Domingo Colburn Stein Young Artists Los Angeles Opera
- John Matthew Myers, tenor, Academy of Vocal Arts
- Diana Newman, soprano, The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago
- Ndumiso Nyoka, tenor, Southern Methodist University
- Christopher Oglesby, tenor, San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship / Utah Opera Resident Artist
- Emmett O’Hanlon, baritone, The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago
- Christian Pursell, bass-baritone, Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera
- Abigail Rethwisch, soprano, Santa Fe Apprentice Program / Utah Opera Resident Artist
- Reginald Smith, Jr., baritone, Winner of Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions / Houston Grand Opera Studio
- Xiaomeng Zhang, baritone, Artist Diploma in Opera Studies at the Juilliard School
Competitors in the 2018 Competition took home prize monies totaling $18,500. Although this competition has as its primary focus artists in the 18 to 34 age range, singers of any age were eligible to apply and considered on a case-by-case basis.
The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition originally focused on young artists with Texas roots or Lone Star academic connections, and its many distinguished alumni include luminaries from throughout the opera world: Latonia Moore, Clifton Forbis, Marjorie Owens, Michael Sumuel, Weston Hurt, Steven LaBrie, Amanda Woodbury, Jesus Garcia.
As the competition sought to gain even greater prominence and significance, The Dallas Opera and The Dallas Opera Guild made significant changes in 2015, prompting Dallas Morning News Classical Music Critic Scott Cantrell to write that the competition had “considerably upped its ante.” The evolution didn’t stop there:
- In order to attract the most talented applicant pool with the greatest potential, the eligibility criteria for applicants changed. Today, it is open to residents of all 50 states and U.S. Territories, including international students attending American colleges, universities, and music conservatories. Also eligible are active members of any young artist program associated with an American opera company.
- During the Finals Round, competing artists will be accompanied by The Dallas Opera Orchestra, guided in 2019 by noted guest conductor Riccardo Frizza. Up to six finalists will participate, singing two arias each.
The impact of these changes was immediately perceived. Senior Classical Music Critic Gregory Sullivan Isaacs of theaterjones.com wrote: “The results surely exceeded expectations for this newly re-envisioned competition…It won’t take long to situate itself at the top of such events and become an important gold star on any young artist’s résumé.”
Winners in 2015 and in the years since have included J’nai Bridges, Anthony Clark Evans, Kang Wang, Virginie Verrez, Samantha Hankey (the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Finals winner), Laura Wilde, Kihun Yoon, and, most recently, Mario Rojas, Josh Lovell and last year’s top prize winner – countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen.
The special guest emcee for this year’s Finals Round, Nia Franklin, is the reigning Miss America who wowed the audience and judges during the competition with her rendition of “Quando m’en Vo” from La bohème. Ms. Franklin is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she studied music composition.
“I am thrilled to be a part of the 31st Annual Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition!” writes Ms. Franklin. “It is such an honor to emcee this competition featuring the best young opera singers from around the country as they share their talent and dedication for all of Dallas to see!”
This year’s honorees are Holly and Tom Mayer for their tremendous dedication, service and support of The Dallas Opera and its commitment to emerging and developing artists. Most recently, Holly served as Chairman of The Dallas Opera (2016-2018) and she continues to guide and inspire the company as a member of The Dallas Opera Board Executive Committee.
Dallas Opera Guild Co-Presidents James and Jan Clay remarked, “Our exciting annual competition is the most high-profile facet of The Dallas Opera Guild’s yearlong commitment to support exceptionally talented young opera artists. The future of opera, not only in Texas—but throughout the world—is dependent on the discovery and development of bright new talent. The Guild takes that part of our mission very seriously and we encourage everyone in the community to turn out next spring to show their support for these fine young singers, as well.”
Linda McKown, one of the 2019 Co-Chairs for the annual competition, writes: “I’m excited to be getting more involved with the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition and doing what I can to help Susan Fleming carry out the Guild’s responsibilities. I feel it is so important to give these young opera singers the opportunity to perform before a live audience with Maestro Frizza conducting the outstanding Dallas Opera Orchestra.”
Adds Co-Chair Susan Fleming, “The Dallas Opera Guild is extremely proud of the many professional voices in development that we have fostered for more than three decades. We are eager to hear those who will be selected this year—twenty from over 300 applicants—and look forward to hosting a large audience on May 2 and 3, 2019.
“We encourage YOU to be part of the crowd that comes to the Winspear Opera House to cheer them on!”
Lexus Red Parking beneath the Winspear Opera House is free for the Semi-Finals Round, from 11:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 2. Parking is $6 for the Finals Round of the competition the following evening, Friday, May 3, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
The list of esteemed judges for the 2019 Vocal Competition reads like a music industry “Who’s Who.”
Judges for the 2019 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition:
Vice President of Artistic Operations, The Dallas Symphony Orchestra
The Kern Wildenthal General Director & CEO, The Dallas Opera
Director of Artistic Administration, San Diego Opera
Music Director of the Donizetti Opera Festival in Bergamo, Italy
Director of Artistic Administration, The Dallas Opera
Vice President, Artistic Planning, Lyric Opera of Chicago
Casting Director, Salzburg Festival
Brian Zeger, Chair
Artistic Director of the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts
The Juilliard School
However, the judging isn’t left entirely to the professionals; “amateur” music lovers will have the opportunity to express their views, too. Audience participation is part of the fun at each year’s Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition. For the nineteenth consecutive year, attendees will be given the chance to vote on their personal favorites to receive the coveted “People’s Choice Award.”
RICCARDO FRIZZA CONDUCTOR
Award-winning Italian maestro Riccardo Frizza is a galvanizing presence on the podium, inspiring performances as exhilarating as they are expressive. Championed by Alberto Zedda, Bruno Cagli, and Gian Carlo Menotti, he is a leading exponent of the bel canto repertoire, collaborating with a who’s who of today’s most iconic singers at opera houses from Milan’s Teatro alla Scala to the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In the concert hall, he graces the podiums of such world-class ensembles as the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Rome’s Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Tokyo Symphony, while his extensive discography includes Decca’s Una furtiva lagrima, winner of the 2004 Cannes Classical Award.
Highlights of Riccardo Frizza’s last season included Falstaff at Festival Verdi di Parma, La Traviata at New National Theatre in Tokyo, Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Opéra National de Paris, Norma in Tokyo, Luisa Miller at Zürich Opera, L’elisir d’amore and Norma at Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Semiramide at the Bavarian State Opera and Il pirata at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. In September 2017, Maestro Frizza was named Music Director of the Donizetti Opera Festival in Bergamo, Italy. Having already conducted Roberto Devereux at San Francisco Opera, in other season highlights, he will appear at the podium of La Fenice three times (for three different productions), will return to Bilbao in order to conduct his debut performance of Verdi’s I Lombardi, and will conduct Falstaff in The Dallas Opera’s spring season finale in 2019.
NIA IMANI FRANKLIN (MISS AMERICA 2019)
Classically trained opera singer and advocate for the arts
Nia Franklin was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and lived in the state through graduate school. She earned an undergraduate degree in composition from East Carolina University, and a master’s in fine arts from The University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts. Shortly thereafter, Nia was awarded a Kenan Fellowship at New York’s Lincoln Center Education and made the move to New York City. She currently resides in Brooklyn.
During Nia Franklin’s college freshman year, her father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and she became his stem cell donor. This turn of events led Nia to the Miss America Organization. “I had to find a way to pay for myself to go to school and so I entered this competition and this organization and it became much more than just the scholarship money for me, it was also about the mentorship, leadership and sisterhood you find in this program.”
Nia was crowned Miss Five Boroughs at the age of 23, and then went on to win Miss New York 2018. And was awarded the job of Miss America 2019 on September 9, 2018.
Ms. Franklin has been a teacher and music mentor, and has written over 100 songs, including one she began performing at age five. (The lyrics begin: “Love, love, love, love, love is the only thing that matters to me…”). For the Miss America 2019 competition, Franklin sang “Quando m’en Vo’” from Puccini’s La bohème and wowed audiences and judges alike.
HISTORY OF THE DALLAS OPERA GUILD VOCAL COMPETITION:
In February of 1987, then-Dallas Opera Guild Presidents Connie and Jerry Klemow proposed establishing a Guild-sponsored scholarship fund to financially assist qualified singers seeking a career in opera. With the approval of The Dallas Opera management and the enthusiastic support of Artistic Director Nicola Rescigno, a committee comprised of Pat Blankenship, Nora Sands and Maria Santarelli, chaired by Connie Klemow, was entrusted to formulate a plan. Soon, the committee welcomed the assistance of then-General Director Plato Karayanis, company dramaturg Roger Pines and Dallas Morning News Classical Music Critic John Ardoin.
Mr. Ardoin suggested a grants program be established in lieu of a scholarship fund or a competition. His suggestion was considered and the concept accepted. It was decided to focus on applicants from North Texas, ages 18-35 with some professional experience. Roger Pines named the program “The Career Development Grant for Singers” (CDGS) and after 20 months of planning the first CDGS program was presented on October 8, 1988 at SMU’s Caruth Auditorium.
However, for any program to remain dynamic, it must grow and evolve. During these past three decades there have been many changes, including the additions of a “People’s Choice Award,” and a significant name change to “The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition” in 2004.
From the initial grants program, the concept evolved into an annual competition that, until 2014, focused on vocalists with a Texas connection, both home-grown and temporary residents. Through this event, the Guild continues to recognize and honor members of The Dallas Opera community who have demonstrated a special interest in promoting the careers of talented young singers, or, have given exceptional support to The Dallas Opera and the Guild. Jonathan Pell, former Artistic Director of The Dallas Opera, led the Judge’s panel for the first 26 years.
The vocal competition was significantly reimagined and expanded in its 27th year, under the leadership of former Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, to allow applicants from all 50 states and U.S. Territories. Dr. Brian Zeger, Artistic Director of Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts and former Executive Director for the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera now chairs a judge’s panel that includes leading figures in music administration and classical music.
The competition was expanded to take place over a two-day period. Participants in 2019 will be heard during Thursday’s semi-finals and the selected finalists will perform again Friday evening, accompanied by The Dallas Opera Orchestra under the direction of Riccardo Frizza.
The Dallas Opera Guild remains dedicated to its original commitment to recognize, honor and support exceptionally talented young singers. The distributed award monies are funded anew each year. Guild members graciously donate their time, energy, money and talents to ensure that this prestigious annual competition succeeds in cultivating the next generation of world-class artists.
TO THE AT&T PERFORMING ARTS CENTER AND STAFF
FOR THEIR SUPPORT OF THE
2019 DALLAS OPERA GUILD VOCAL COMPETITION
2018-2019 SEASON SPONSOR
The Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family
ABOUT THE DALLAS OPERA
Founded in 1957, The Dallas Opera is an internationally-recognized innovator dedicated to the overall advancement of the operatic art form and the support of established and emerging artists, as well as the education and development of new opera audiences in North Texas—and beyond. These goals are achieved by commissioning and producing world-class opera; through ground-breaking institutes, national competitions and topical programs; and by presenting opera in both traditional and non-traditional formats and venues in order to attract patrons of every age, background, educational level, and ethnicity—while engaging with more than 87,000 people in our community each year. TDO is equally committed to the task of responsible stewardship and is managed with efficiency and accountability, to the highest possible standards.
EVENTS, GUESTS AND ARTISTS SUBJECT TO CHANGE
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE DALLAS OPERA
IS AVAILABLE ONLINE, 24/7. VISIT WWW.DALLASOPERA.ORG
FOR HIGH-RESOLUTION PHOTOGRAPHS
Contact Suzanne Calvin, Director of Media and PR at email@example.com
The Dallas Opera is supported, in part, by funds from: Elsa von Seggern Foundation, Texas Instruments Foundation, the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs; 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.
Advertising support from The Dallas Morning News.
The Dallas Opera Family Performances are generously supported by
Texas Instruments, Lockheed Martin, and
The Betty and Steve Suellentrop Educational Outreach Fund
TDO Family Performances are a part of the
Perot Foundation Education and Community Outreach Programs
TICKET INFORMATION FOR THE 2018-2019 DALLAS OPERA SEASON
All performances are in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center unless otherwise indicated. Flex Subscriptions are on sale now; single tickets range from $19 to $289 (excluding boxes). Family performance tickets are just $5. For more information or to make your purchase, contact The Dallas Opera Ticket Office at 214.443.1000 or visit us online, 24/7, at www.dallasopera.org.
THE DALLAS OPERA 2018-2019 MAINSTAGE SEASON: SPRING
The Dallas Opera celebrates its 62nd International Season in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Dallas Arts District. Evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees begin at 2:00 p.m. unless otherwise stated. English translations will be projected above the stage at every performance and assistance is available for the hearing impaired. With the exception of FIRST NIGHT, The Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talk will begin one hour prior to curtain, at most performances.
MANON LESCAUT by Giacomo Puccini
Semi-Staged Concert, March 1, 3 (m), 6, 9, 2019
Featuring images of select art works from the collections of The Dallas Museum of Art!
The woman who has everything discovers too late that she has nothing – without true love!
Libretto by Domenico Oliva and Luigi Illica
Time: Late 18th century
Place: France and America
Conductor: Emmanuel Villaume
Director: Ed Berkeley
Costume Designer: Tommy Bourgeois
Lighting Designer: Krista Billings
Wig & Make-up Designer: Dawn Rivard
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Kristin Lewis* (Manon Lescaut), Musa Ngqungwana (Lescaut), Gregory Kunde (Chevalier des Grieux), Andrea Silvestrelli (Geronte de Ravoir), Jonas Hacker* (Edmondo), Mark S. Doss (Innkeeper), Alyssa Martin (Singer), Matthew Grills* (Dance Master), Clay Hilley* (Lamplighter), Mark McCrory (Sergeant of the Royal Archers) and David Leigh* (Naval Captain).
LA BOHÈME by Giacomo Puccini
March 15, 17 (m), 20, 23, 29, 31 (m), 2019
The most timeless love story in all of opera returns to break your heart!
Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica
Time: 19th century
Place: The Latin Quarter of Paris, France
Conductor: Giuliano Carella
Director: Tomer Zvulun
Set Designer: Erhard Rom
Costume Designer: Peter J. Hall
Lighting Designer: Robert Wierzel
Wig & Make-up Designer: Dawn Rivard
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Jean-François Borras* (Rodolfo), Pumeza Matshikiza** (Mimi), Anthony Clark Evans* (Marcello), Sara Gartland (Musetta), Will Liverman* (Schaunard), Nicholas Brownlee* (Colline), and Samuel Ramey (Benoit/Alcindoro).
FALSTAFF by Giuseppe Verdi
April 26, 28 (m), May 1, 4, 2019
Shakespeare’s uproarious comedy brought to musical life!
Libretto by Arrigo Boito
Time: During the reign of Henry IV of England
Conductor: Riccardo Frizza
Original Director: Lee Blakeley
Revival Director: Shawna Lucey*
Set and Costume Designer: Adrian Linford*
Lighting Designer: Rick Fisher*
Wig & Make-up Designer: Dawn Rivard
Chorus Master: Alexander Rom
Starring: Mark Delavan* (Sir John Falstaff), Angela Meade (Alice Ford), Quinn Kelsey* (Ford), Mojca Erdmann* (Nanetta), Airam Hernández* (Fenton), Stephanie Blythe* (Dame Quickly), Megan Marino* (Meg Page), Alex Mansoori* (Bardolfo), Andrea Silvestrelli (Pistola), and Robert Brubaker (Dr. Caius).
* Dallas Opera Debut
** American Debut