Tuesday, September 2, 2014

VOCAL WINNERS: women in opera

Friedrich Schorr as Wotan, Bayreuth
The American Prize is honored to announce the winners and runners-up in the women's opera divisions of The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards, 2014.  In addition, the competition honored one additional artist with a Citation for Vocal and Instrumental Excellence and selected four contestants to receive Career Encouragement Citations. The voice teacher of three of the four will also receive a special citation for inspirational teaching. Congratulations!

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

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

The American Prize 
in Vocal Performance
Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award

The American Prize winner:
New York  NY
Megan Marino
Hailed for her “considerable range and confidence, navigating lower notes with impressive, clarity yet also managing considerable leaps into the higher range as well, exhibiting a warm, plummy tone throughout,” Megan Marino debuts at the Metropolitan Opera as an Unborn Child in Die Frau ohne Schatten in 2013-14. She also joins the company for Rusalka, Werther, and Rigoletto and sings Handel’s Messiah with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming engagements include Angelina in La Cenerentola with Green Mountain Opera, Varvara in Káťa Kabanová at the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. In coming seasons, she will join the roster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Ms. Marino received The Katharine M. Mayer Apprentice Award from Santa Fe Opera, is a 2nd place winner of Ft. Worth Opera’s McCammon Competition and 3rd place winner of the Lotte Lenya Competition. She has been a regional finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has placed multiple times at the Denver Lyric Opera Guild Competition.

Among judges' comments: "A consummate singer-actor, with all the elements for an international career in place."

2nd Place:
New York NY
Meghan Picerno
American Soprano, Meghan Picerno was last seen making her Carnegie Hall debut in recital with Metropolitan Opera’s Bass’s Hao Jiang Tian. Last year she made her Alice Tully Hall debut singing with the New York City Opera Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Paul Nadler, and the National Center for Performing Arts in Beijing, China as a young artist of I Sing Beijing. As Zerlina in Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance Program’s production of Don Giovanni, she was praised by the New York Times for her “attractive soprano” voice. She received both her Masters and Professional Studies degrees from The Manhattan School of Music. During her time at MSM, she performed in many productions such as Marissa in Henry’s Wife with American Opera Projects, La Princesse et Le Feu in L’enfant et les Sortileges, soprano soloist in September Songs, The Legacy Of Kurt Weill, as well as various performances with the Contemporary Opera Ensemble. She also made her Off Broadway debut as Liza in the musical revue, Falling in Love with Love. This Spring she was selected as a semifinalist in the Lotte Lenya Competition, as well as receiving 2nd place in the 5 Towns Music Awards in the Opera division.

Among judges' comments: "A worldclass coloratura talent, with gripping acting and musical abilities."

3rd Place (There was a tie):
Modena  ITALY
Jessica Rose Cambio
Italian-American Soprano Jessica Rose Cambio recently made her UK debut as Mimì in the Francesca Zambello production of La Boheme at the Royal Albert Hall after performances in Como, Brescia, Pavia, Cremona, Tel Aviv, and in concert with the LA Philharmonic. She will reprise the role and debut Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni this Fall in Macedonia, Thailand, and China. Other recent engagements include Beatriz in Catán's La Hija de Rappaccini with Gotham Chamber Opera. Her repertoire has included Violetta in La Traviata, Alice in Falstaff, Giselda in I Lombardi, Magda in La Rondine, Liù in Turandot, Nedda in Pagliacci, Micaëla in Carmen, and the title roles in Maria Stuarda, Anna Bolena, and Lucia di Lammermoor.

Ms. Cambio is an avid recitalist, having sung concerts in Italy at the homes of Giuseppe Verdi and Luciano Pavarotti, Helsinki with the Finnish-Italian Association, Moscow at the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre, NY at Carnegie Hall and Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center; with the Festival Puccini Torre del Lago Orchestra at the Teatro Comunale di Modena, the Orchestra Filarmonica di Torino, the Israeli Philharmonic in Tel Aviv, and the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic at the Shostakovich Grand Hall for Elena Obratzsova’s 70th Birthday. She made her oratorio debut as the Soprano soloist in Bach's Magnificat at the Duomo di Modena.

Cambio has prevailed in an astounding number of vocal competitions worldwide, winning prizes in the Marie Kraja in Albania, Leyla Gencer in Istanbul, As.Li.Co. in Como, and the Gerda Lissner, Licia Albanese Puccini, Giulio Gari, George London, and Loren Zachary Competitions in the US. She was also a finalist in the Julián Gayarre in Spain, and the Voci Verdiane, Marcello Giordani, Ottavio Ziino, and Fondazione Arena di Verona Competitions in Italy, and a semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and Placido Domingo’s Operalia in Quebec and Verona. She was awarded grants from the Richard Tucker, Gerda Lissner, and Georg Solti Foundations, and she completed her musical studies in the US and Italy working with world renowned sopranos Renata Scotto and Mirella Freni.

Among judges' comments: "...a singing actress par excellence."

3rd Place (There was a tie):
Chicago  IL
Susan Nelson
Equally at home on the operatic stage or in concert repertoire, American lyric soprano Susan Nelson has been praised by critics for her “full, powerful voice – agile and pliant” as well as her interpretations, called both “sensitive and moving” and “full of life and vigor.” She showcases versatility and vocal beauty in repertoire from Bach and Mozart to verismo and contemporary opera.  She has been a seen on the stages of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Delaware, Sarasota Opera, Kentucky Opera, Opera Illinois, and The Savoyaires, and has performed as a soloist with Music of the Baroque, Access Contemporary Music, Elmhurst Choral Union, and Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra.  In December 2014, she will return to the South Bend Symphony Orchestra for their Holiday Pops Concerts.

Among judges' comments: "A very exciting talent."

SPECIAL CITATION: Vocal and Instrumental Excellence
Gaylordsville  CT
Zoe Vandermeer
Zoe Vandermeer specializes in the music of Mozart and Baroque Music as a soprano soloist and also as a recitalist in which she accompanies her singing on triple harp.  On the roster of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, she is a prize-winning graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, a recipient of the Dame Joan Sutherland Fund, winner of the Bay Area Vocal Arts Competition, finalist of the London Young Artists Early Music Competition, and finalist of the Laurier Concert Aria Competition Canada.  Ms. Vandermeer has given solo performances at International Festival de Deia Spain, Glasgow International Early Music Festival, HarpCon2003 Convention, Bloomington Early Music Festival, Festival Opera, DiMenna Center New York City, Davies Symphony Hall San Francisco, and ABC Center Los Angeles.  Her CD 'Angel's Wine, Songs of John Dowland' won second place for Best Classical Album.  www.zoevandermeer.com

Among judges' comments:"many artistic and expressive risks in this performance, making for an exciting and strong musical statement."

The American Prize 
in Vocal Performance
Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award

The American Prize winner:
Stone Mountain  GA
Monica Dewey
Monica Dewey, soprano, was born in Atlanta, Georgia and began her studies at the University of Kentucky. She received a full scholarship award from the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition and studied with Dr. Everett McCorvey and Cynthia Lawrence. She now continues as a student of Elizbeth Nohe Colson in Atlanta, Georgia. She was a semi-finalist in the International Competition “Dr. Luis Sigall” in Viña del Mar, Chile and the Orpheus Vocal Competition in Tennessee. This summer she will be a young artist at the Chautauqua Institute for Music.

Recent opera engagements include: Pamina Die Zauberflöte with Lyric Opera Studio Weimar, Rose Street Scene with Harrower Opera Workshop, and Christine Phantom of the Opera with University of Kentucky Opera Theatre. She has been a featured soloist with Thüringer Symphony in Germany, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, and Atlanta Community Symphony Orchestra. Monica has recently begun graduate school at Indiana University where she studies with Carol Vaness.

Among judges' comments: "a superb, rich instrument that is capable of such a range of colors...along with superb breath control and release of onset."

2nd Place:
Pittsburgh  PA
Lauren Frey
Lauren Frey was recently commended for her performance as Musetta in Opera Western Reserve's production of La Boheme.  She "brilliantly negotiated the intricacies of her bel canto role with sparkling ease."  In her famous "Musetta's Waltz" aria, Frey "depicted Musetta beautifully," while her ensemble vocals were "absolutely stunning." (The Classical Cleveland)

In 2014, Lauren received 3rd place in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Auditions, after winning 1st place in her MONC District.  In 2013, Lauren placed second in the Senior Division and first in the Vocal Division with the Philadelphia Orchestra's Albert M. Greenfield Competition.  In 2012, Lauren won 1st place in the MONC District Auditions, and won Westminster Choir College's Voice Scholarship Competition in 2011.  

Lauren performed Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Lyric Opera Studio Weimar in Germany in 2013.  She originated the role of Grace in the world premiere of Daron Hagen’s The George Washington Suite with Opera Theater Pittsburgh.  Credits include Coaxer in Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera, Tina in Jonathan Dove's Flight, the title role in Handel's Alcina, Die Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte, and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte.

Among judges' comments: "a vibrant voice, rich yet flexible, showing much floridity through resonance."

3rd Place:
State College  PA
Julia Wolcott
Soprano Julia Wolcott made her operatic debut as a college freshman in the role of Marcellina in Penn State Opera Theatre’s production of The Marriage of Figaro. Subsequent roles included Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Ottavia in Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea. Julia attended the SOARS Program (Summer Opera, Art Song, Recording Seminar) in Bayview, Michigan as well as OperaNEO, an opera festival and workshop in San Diego, California. Julia graduated from Penn State in December 2013 with her bachelor's degree in voice performance, where she was a student of Jennifer Trost. In January, she was named as a finalist in the National Opera Association's Caroline and Dominick Argento Vocal Competition held at the National Opera Center in New York City. This summer she will participate in the Artists Training Seminar of the Castleton Festival where she will work with renowned conductor Lorin Maazel. www.juliawolcott.com

Among judges' comments: "a rich, beautiful timbre that is both refined and refreshing. "

The American Prize 
in Vocal Performance
Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Award

The American Prize selected four contestants in the College/University category to receive Career Encouragement Citations. Three of the four study with the same teacher at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. Their teacher will also receive a special citation for Inspiration in Teaching. Congratulations!

Career Encouragement Citation:
Plainfield  VT
Lillian Bailey-Broderick
20 year old Vermont native soprano, Lillian Bailey-Broderick, is going into her junior of undergraduate studies at the University of Vermont. After her debut in 2010 as Lady Ella in G&S's Patience, Miss Bailey-Broderick has gone on to perform other Gilbert & Sullivan roles including Mabel, Josephine, and Patience. At school, she has performed partial roles, such as Fiordiligi and Countess. Last summer, the soprano sang the title role in Princess Ida "beautifully and dramatically" (VT Times Argus). She also made her role debut as Konstanze in an English version of The Abduction from the Seraglio.  This summer she attended the Accademia Vocale Lorenzo Malfatti in Lucca, Italy.

Career Encouragement Citation:
Austin  TX
Kelsey Debner
Kelsey Debner is a sophomore at Southwestern University pursuing a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance.  She grew up in Austin, Texas, and was homeschooled through high school.  In addition to studying voice since 8th grade, she has studied violin since 2nd grade.  She is a member of the music fraternity Delta Omicron.  

Career Encouragement Citation:
Dallas  TX
Abigail Jackson
Abigail Jackson is a junior Vocal Performance Major pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. She's currently preparing the role of Fiordiligi in Mozart's Cosí fan tutte to perform with the opera theatre class at Southwestern University. She is also preparing for her junior recital as part of the BM degree. This past January she was cast in the Austin Lyric Opera chorus for Tosca. Her debut opera theatre role with Southwestern University was the Plaintiff in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury in April 2013.

Career Encouragement Citation:
Kingwood  TX
Melissa Krueger
Mezzo-Soprano, Melissa Krueger is a Junior Vocal Performance major at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. She currently studies with Dana Zenobi, a noted soprano in the Austin area. Although new to the opera world, she has already performed in productions with organizations such as Opera in the Ozarks and Austin Lyric Opera. Southwestern has blessed her with the opportunity to sing several leading roles such as Dorabella in Cosi fan Tutte, the Counsel in Trial By Jury, and Polly in The Beggar's Opera. Melissa also works as the Alto Section Leader at United University Methodist Church under the direction of Marc Erck.

SPECIAL CITATION: Inspiration in Teaching
Southwestern University  Georgetown  TX
A versatile performer who embraces both traditional repertoire and new music, Dana Zenobi appeared in the American Premiere of Philip Glass' Waiting for the Barbarians with Austin Lyric Opera, and performed with Lyric Opera Cleveland in the first production of Mark Adamo's Little Women directed by the composer.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer praised her "dazzling coloratura" and "irresitible phrasing" as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, and she has garnered similar success in roles ranging from Mozart heroines Konstanze and Donna Elvira to Verdi's Violetta Valéry.  She is also an active concert soloist, and teaches voice, pedagogy, song literature, and diction at Southwestern University (Georgetown, TX).  Dr. Zenobi is founder of BELTÀ, a nonprofit that supports emerging artists (www.BELTA.org).  She earned her DMA in Voice Performance and Pedagogy at The University of Texas at Austin.  She also holds an MM from UT, and a BA from Duke University.  www.danazenobi.com


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