Monday, June 4, 2012


Friedrich Schorr as Wotan
The American Prize is very pleased to announce the winners of The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards, 2012, in the opera division. 

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog.  

Information about The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards, 2013, will be posted to our website in several weeks. In addition to competitions in art song and opera for professional, college/university, community and high school vocalists, the contests will also include an additional performance opportunity in oratorio for 2013.

Please note that the final rounds of the art song and opera competitions are judged separately and independently. Do make us aware of any misprints in the listings below:

The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards, 2012—PROFESSIONAL OPERA DIVISION (women)

The American Prize winner:
During the 2011-2012 season, the rising young soprano Suzanne Vinnik will appear with Pittsburgh Opera as Leila in Les pêcheurs de perles, Gretel in Hansel und Gretel, and cover Violetta Valéry in La Traviata. In the spring she will debut with Lyric Opera of Virginia as Micaela in Carmen and sing a recital with the company. During the summer she appears with Opera Hispanica in New York City as Beatriz in Catan's La Hija de Rappaccini. Ms. Vinnik has performed the role of Musetta in La Boheme with Nevada Opera Theatre, Opera North, and most recently under the baton of Maestro Lorin Maazel in the 2011 Castleton Festival Production. In September she appeared on Norwegian Radio and TV as a grand finalist in the Queen Sonja International Music Competition where she sang for Her Majesty Queen Sonja. She is a recent alumna of the Opera Studio at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy where she studied under Renata Scotto and performed in concert at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. She appeared in concerts at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Westfield Symphony Orchestra, and various US and international orchestras.

2nd Place:
A native North Dakotan, Joann earned awards at these competitions: Orpheus, NATS, MONC Auditions, Greensboro MTNA, Coeur d'Alene Young Artists, and Symphony in the Valley. She has played Barbarina, Norina, Yum-Yum, Violetta, Adele, Le Feu, Monica, Gretel, and Lola and performed in concert with the UNCG Orchestra, Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra, and Minot Symphony Orchestra. Joann has her B.A. from Minot (ND) State University under Dr. DeVera Bowles and her Master's from UNCG under Dr. Robert Bracey.

3rd Place:
Mezzo-Soprano Kate Tombaugh originally hails from Streator, Illinois. She has been featured with the Santa Fe Concert Association and the Utah Symphony and has sung as a young artist with the Santa Fe Opera, Utah Opera and with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. She holds dual undergraduate degrees from Illinois Wesleyan University in English Literature and Vocal Performance and earned her Master’s Degree in Opera Performance from CCM.

The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards, 2012—PROFESSIONAL OPERA DIVISION (men) 

The American Prize winner:
Tenor, Christian Ketter most recently had the pleasure of being musically coached and staged by composer Carlisle Floyd in a concert celebrating his works. A 2012 Shreveport Opera Semi-Finalist (3/12), Mr. Ketter has studied under and sung in masterclasses with renowned artists: Tito Capobianco; Nathan Gunn; Diana Soviero; Enrique Patrón de Rueda; Joan Dornemann; David Friedman; and Sherrill Milnes. For more information about Mr. Ketter go to

2nd Place:
Tenor Matthew Garrett is a graduate of Brown University and the Juilliard School.  Operatic engagements include Scottish Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Omaha, Glimmerglass Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Connecticut Opera, Eugene Opera, Syracuse Opera, Jacksonville Symphony, and others.  Recent concert appearances have included the Los Angeles and Las Vegas Philharmonics, Cincinnati May Festival, Israel Chamber Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Arion Ensemble, Basel Festival Orchestra, Opera Orchestra of New York, Virginia Symphony, and others. 

3rd Place:
Jeffrey Hill, 26, tenor was a featured young artist at both Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Music Academy of the West. Carnegie Hall recital debut 2011. Recital debuts in Paris and New York, and winner of several competitions, including the Marilyn Horne Foundation Competition, and The American Prize (2011). Featured in reviews as “a force to be reckoned with, [a voice] that sounds effortless but absolutely commands the listener’s attention,” “impressively rich and full-bodied” and “a born entertainer.”

The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards, 2012—COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY OPERA DIVISION (women) 

The American Prize winner:
Deborah Blakesley’s most recent roles include Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, La Principessa in Adriana Lecouvreur, Mrs. Grose in Turn of the Screw and Aunt March in Little Women (Banff Opera Centre), the Witch in Hansel and Gretel (Whatcom Symphony Orchestra), as well as several leads at Western Washington University. Upcoming roles include Bersi in Puget Sound Concert Opera’s Andrea Chénier, Mozart's Magic Flute in both the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival and the Astoria Music Festival, and Clotilde in a production of Norma featuring Angela Meade and Ruth Ann Swenson (Astoria). She will be attending the University of British Columbia for a Masters in Opera in the Fall.

2nd Place:
A lyric soprano with an engaging presence on stage, Ruth Hartt has been praised for her “warm and flexible” singing and genuine character portrayals. For her recent performance of Beatrice in Jake Heggie's Three Decembers she was hailed as "simply lovely." Ruth recently returned from the Gerdine Young Artist Program at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, where she covered the role of Donna Elvira. Roles performed include Juliette (Roméo et Juliette), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), and Clorinda (La Cenerentola).

3rd Place:
Elizabeth Mary Sutphen, mezzo-soprano, is a fourth year undergraduate at The Juilliard School. In 2011 she won First Place National in Shirley Winston Rabb Scholarship and The National Young Musicians Showcase. Elizabeth was a soloist in The New York Festival of Song at Juilliard and appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Juilliard Opera Theater and Aspen Music Festival. She will appear as Il Cavalier Ramiro in the Juilliard Opera Theatre’s  La Finta Giardiniera. 

The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards, 2012—COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY OPERA DIVISION (men) 

The American Prize winner:
Cristopher Frisco’s 2011-12 season includes role debuts as Lenski in Eugene Onegin, Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas (with both the Opera Company of Brooklyn and the Philadelphia International Fringe Festival), Rodolfo in La Boheme, Laurie in Little Women, and Tebaldo in I Capuleti ed i Montecchi.  In concert, he has been heard as the tenor soloist in Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and Handel’s Messiah. 

2nd Place:
Andrew York, baritone, originally from Arlington, Nebraska is a graduate of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California where he earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance.  As an undergraduate student at the University of the Pacific, Andrew was fortunate to sing the role of Alidoro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola.  This opera production was selected as a finalist at both the regional and national levels in the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival held in Washington D.C.  Also, during his undergraduate studies, Andrew had the opportunity to sing the role of Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas at the Museumsinsel Fest in Berlin, Germany, and the Prince in the Happy Prince composed by Malcolm Williamson at the University of the Pacific. Andrew received his Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida.  

3rd Place:
Mo Li has won critical acclaim for his “splendid voice and expressive emotion,” possessing a rich, sweet voice with distinctive warmth of timber that proves him an established performer in operatic repertoire. He recently successfully made his European debut in performing the role of Fritz in Offenbach’s La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, Mo’s opera credits also include leading roles as Tito in La Clemenza di Tito, Piquillo in La Perichole, Mario in Piazza Navona,  Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Leon in Signor Deluso.

Congratulations to all winners and runners-up.

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