Tuesday, September 4, 2012


The American Prize is pleased to announce the WINNERS and runners-up in all divisions of  
The American Prize in Opera Performance, 2012.

Please make us aware of any misprints by emailing: theamericanprize@gmail.com

The American Prize in Opera Performance, 2012—Professional Division

The American Prize winner:
Juventas New Music Ensemble, Boston, MA
Schankler—Light & Power
Juventas New Music Ensemble, winner of the 2010 National Opera Association award, voices the musical culture of the present by featuring repertoire of composers age 35 and under.  Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the ensemble has a core of seven musicians augmented with guest artists to form a wide array of instrumentations -- both traditional and non-traditional.  Since its founding in 2005, Juventas has performed over 130 works, including 35 world premieres and five brand new operas, by more than 90 composers. From lyrical melodies to recorded sounds from outer space, Juventas performances are a tour-de- force that explore the most engaging music of a new generation. “What we may be experiencing here is a significant infusion of new artistic visions that will keep the classical scene alive,” Boston Musical Intelligencer. (www.JuventasMusic.com)

Guerilla Opera, Boston, MA
Rojahn—Heart of a Dog
Guerilla Opera is a col-
laborative ensemble whose mission is to foster a new repertoire of chamber operas written specifically for them, to perform in intimate theatrical settings, and to perform in an environment of intense collaboration resulting from the direct communication between performers, without the use of a conductor. Operas are commissioned from composers who demonstrate a unique compositional language, whose music is exciting, complex, dramatic, insightful, that tests and stretches boundaries of convention, and which is representative of the progress of contemporary music. Guerilla Opera is an Ensemble-in-Residence at The Boston Conservatory and performs in the Zack Box Theater.

The American Prize in Opera Performance, 2012—College/University Division

The American Prize winner:
Crane Opera Ensemble—SUNY Potsdam, NY
Menotti—Amahl and the Night Visitors

The award-winning Crane Opera Ensemble is a significant source for opera and music theatre in the North Country region of New York State. The ensemble is unique as it integrates the College mission of teaching, scholarship and public service, into its fully staged production each semester. The Crane Opera Ensemble was the winner of the 2011 American Prize in opera performance for it's production of L'Enfant et les Sortileges, and the 2003 (Division 3) and 2009 (Division 2) National Opera Association Collegiate Production Competition. We are proud that over 4,000 North Country school children have experienced opera performances and post-performance activities through our outreach program, most for the very first time. The Crane Opera Ensemble produces a collaborative musical with our Department of Theatre and Dance triennially, which has included such productions as Cabaret, Urinetown and On The Town.

University of Houston—Moores Opera Center, Houston, TX
The Moores Opera Center was founded by director Buck Ross in 1986. Then called the University Opera Theatre, it began with a production of Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All produced in Dudley Recital Hall with costumes, a few props, and a piano. The following year brought a complete season of three fully produced operas in various performing spaces around campus. With the opening of the Moores Opera House in 1997, the name was changed to the Edythe Bates Old Moores Opera Center. That season included our first production of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, which put us on the national opera radar. Since then notable contemporary productions have included Dominick Argento’s Miss Havisham’s Fire and Casanova’s Homecoming (released on the Newport Classic label), Conrad Susa’s The Dangerous Liaisons, Christopher Theofandis’ The Thirteen Clocks, Robert Nelson’s A Room with a View (released on DVD by Newport Classic), and Jonathan Dove’s Flight. More recent seasons have included William Bolcom’s A Wedding and a new second production of The Ghosts of Versailles. Other memorable Houston premieres included Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges, Weber’s Der Freischütz, Barber’s Vanessa, Massenet’s Chérubin, Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims, and Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.

University of Connecticut School of Music, Storrs, CT
UConn's Department of Music offers a competitive program in voice and opera.  As the flagship institution for the state of Connecticut, UConn caters to the development of it's undergraduate student body while offering advanced degrees in performance.  The Department of Music has a proud tradition of preparing future performers, composers, and teachers, while also enriching the life experience of the campus and wider community.  Music alumni credit their success to the "start" they received at UConn, prizing both the focus given to their specialties and the opportunities to experience new, often path-changing, instruction and events.

The American Prize in Opera Performance, 2012—Community Division

The American Prize winner:
dell'Arte Opera Ensemble, New York, NY
Strauss—Ariadne auf Naxos
dell’Arte Opera Ensemble’s dual mission since 2003 has been to nurture emerging opera artists through seminars and master classes targeting debut performance opportunities, and to attract new audiences with high-quality, affordable productions featuring exciting young artists. Our philosophy is that only superior craft creates great art.  Singers working with dell’Arte range from those just exiting school to those pursuing regional careers and even covering major roles around the world. They enjoy first-rate coaching, enthusiastic and talented colleagues, and collaboration with professional instrumentalists. Audiences enjoy the fresh excitement of experiencing role debuts and witnessing important landmarks in each singer’s artistic process. 

Hubbard Hall Opera Theater, Cambridge, NY
Donizetti—Don Pasquale
Building off of the rich tradition of arts in the Cambridge Valley, Hubbard Hall Opera Theater (HHOT) seeks to bring yet another element of culture to this rural community.  The mission of HHOT is to provide classically trained singers and instrumentalists in New England and upstate New York greater opportunities to create something beautiful close to home, while also giving rural audiences the chance to enjoy an opera without having to spend the night in a city to do so.  HHOT also strives to provide young artists the chance to perform key roles in a nurturing environment alongside seasoned professionals. HHOT's winning production of Don Pasquale was directed by Heidi Lauren Duke and conducted by Maria Sensi Sellner.


The American Prize in Conducting, 2012—Opera Division (community)

The American Prize winner:
Christopher Fecteau—dell'Arte Opera Ensemble, New York, NY

Christopher Fecteau has prepared singers for engagements at companies including the Met, Chicago Lyric and Florida Grand, and has been a pianist/coach with DiCapo Opera, Bronx Opera and Encompass Opera. Music directing and conducting engagements have taken him to Opera Illinois, Opera Theatre of Philadelphia, Harrisburg Opera, South Florida Opera Company, and a tour of the Czech Republic. Among other New York City assignments, he spent three seasons as Associate Music Director of the venerated Amato Opera Company. Through dell'Arte Opera Ensemble, founded to provide quality role development experience for young singers, he has produced over 35 productions in New York City.

Robert W. Butts—BONJ Opera, Rockaway, NJ
Dr. Butts has served as Conductor/Director for BONJ Opera since this subsidiary of The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey absorbed New Jersey Concert Opera.    With BONJ Opera, he has conducted operas in concert and productions at the annual Summer Festival, the only conductor to have conducted performances of three Wagner and three Handel operas in addition to those of Mozart, Scarlatti and Pergolesi.   He edited and orchestrated Monteverdi’s Poppea in 2010 and Scarlatti’s La Giuditta from newly discovered manuscript in 2008 in Morristown.   He is also Artistic Director/Conductor for Opera at Florham Eastern Opera and Opera Touring New York.

Warren Puffer Jones—Arbor Opera Theater, Ann Arbor, MI
Conductor Warren Puffer Jones is Music Director of Arbor Opera Theater, the Ann Arbor Cantata Singers, and the Livingston Symphony Orchestra. He has also served as Assistant Conductor with the Plymouth Canton Symphony Society, the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra and Opera Illinois. A native of Oklahoma City, Mr. Jones did his undergraduate work at Yale University and received a Master's degree in choral conducting from Indiana University, with further study at the Conductor's Institute at Bard. He is a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan, studying with Kenneth Kiesler.

The American Prize in Conducting, 2012—Opera Division (college/university)

The American Prize winner:
Maria Sensi Sellner—Carnegie Mellon University School of Music
Conductor Maria Sensi Sellner is increasingly recognized for her versatility, clarity, and “gentle directness” that results in moving performances.  This season includes opera performances with Boston Opera Collaborative, Hubbard Hall Opera Theater (NY), and Carnegie Mellon University, plus her conducting debut with the Akron Symphony Orchestra.  She is the Director of the Akron Symphony Chorus, Music Director of the Carnegie Mellon All University Orchestras, and Assistant Conductor of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, chorus of the Pittsburgh Symphony.  She earned a masters in conducting with Robert Page at Carnegie Mellon, and continued private study with Kenneth Kiesler and Fiora Contino.

Kirk A. Severtson—Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, NY
Pianist and conductor Kirk Severtson is on the faculty of The Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, where he is a musical director for the Crane Opera Ensemble, vocal coach, and chair of the Music Performance department.  He has served on the music staff of Opera Saratoga (formerly Lake George Opera) for six years and has previously coached at Opera North, the Opera Theater of Lucca (Italy), the Cincinnati Opera outreach program, the Rising Star Singers festival, and Dorian Opera Theater.  He is a graduate of Luther College and holds graduate degrees in piano performance from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music.

H. Carl Hess—Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
H. Carl Hess is currently Assistant Professor of Music, Chair of Brass, and Director of Athletic Bands at Duquesne University’s Mary Pappert School of Music. In the spring of 2011, Hess served as interim Director of Orchestral Activities. In this capacity he led performances of Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Fountains of Rome, Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, and Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi. After his successful operatic debut, Hess was named Music Director of the Opera Workshop at Duquesne University, and will lead a groundbreaking performance of Mark Adamo’s Little Women in the spring of 2012.


Congratulations to all winners and runners-up.

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