Thursday, June 21, 2018

WINNERS: opera companies, 2017-18

The American Prize is honored to announce the winners, runners-up and citation recipients of The American Prize in Opera Performance, 2017-18. Congratulations!

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog. Please use the chronological tool in the right-hand column to find specific results.

QUICKNOTES: Although The American Prize does not usually provide written evaluations to semi-finalists, some semi-finalists will receive in their certificate packets short comments, suggestions or overall impressions made during the judging. We hope they will prove valuable. All finalists receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel.

Please make us aware of any misprints:

The American Prize in Opera Performance, 2017-18—professional division

The American Prize winner:  
Queen City Opera 
Isaac Selya
Cincinnati OH

Queen City Opera
Queen City Opera was founded in 2012 to advance the careers of emerging singers, instrumentalists, designers, and conductors by giving them valuable professional engagements in high-quality productions. In recognition of their high artistic quality and work to transform neighborhoods through the arts, the company was profiled in August 2014 in the Business section of the Cincinnati Enquirer. In collaboration with the Wagner Society of Cincinnati, QCO is currently producing Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle, presented one act at a time. Their performance of Siegfried as part of this venture was the first complete performance of the work in the state of Ohio since the “touring Rings” over a century ago. For more information or to see recordings of any of our past productions, visit QueenCityOpera.Org.

2nd Place:
Resonance Works/Pittsburgh
Maria Sensi Sellner
Pittsburgh PA

Resonance Works/ Pittsburgh
Entering our fifth season, Resonance Works is a multi-modal professional performing arts company which presents a varied season of artist-driven programming blurring the lines across traditional classical music genres. We create our seasons to showcase outstanding professional artists from Pittsburgh and beyond, in performances that include fully staged opera, orchestral music, chamber music, choral music, and musical theater, often with compelling collaborators. Our growing community of artists are true creative partners and our work has quickly become an important part of the professional arts ecosystem in Pittsburgh. Our Resonance Chamber Orchestra, choruses, and opera casts have attracted top musicians through innovative programming, and by maintaining the highest professional musical standards. In 2017, Resonance Works presented the American premiere of Sir James MacMillan’s Gloria in coordination with his residency with the Pittsburgh Symphony, and next season will feature several Pittsburgh premieres by David Lang, Jake Heggie, and the first Pittsburgh performances of Dvořák’s Rusalka.

The American Prize in Opera Performance, 2017-18—college/university division

The American Prize winner:
Lawrence University
Copeland Woodruff
Appleton WI
The Beggar's Opera (Gay/Britten) 

Hydrogen Jukebox (Glass)
Lawrence University—The Beggar's Opera (Gay/Britten)

Lawrence University—Hydrogen Jukebox (Glass)
Lawrence University and Conservatory of Music is an all-undergraduate, liberal arts institution. The opera studies division is dedicated to training the young singing actor in all the elements for success: musical styles, acting, text/languages, and modern as well as traditional theatrical techniques. Recent productions have garnered national attention, because of their well-crafted and dedicated musical and dramatic performances. Offering performance opportunities as varied as improvised micro-operas, scenes programs, main stage operas, and re-imagined recital formats, LU is preparing the 21st-Century singing artist to meet the challenges of today’s market. Opera studies faculty: Copeland Woodruff and Andrew Crooks. Voice faculty: Kenneth Bozeman, Joanne Bozeman, Steven Paul Spears, Karen Leigh-Post, John Holiday, and John Gates.

2nd Place (there was a tie):
Arizona State University Lyric Opera Theatre
Brian DeMaris
Tempe AZ
H.M.S. Pinafore

Arizona State University Lyric Opera Theatre
ASU's Lyric Opera Theatre program is distinctive in that it combines training in both opera and musical theatre. Serving approximately 100 undergraduate and graduate opera and musical theatre majors from the ASU School of Music, and open to all students throughout the university, LOT is committed to preparing outstanding opera and musical theatre artists for professional careers in the 21st century. The program features formal collaborations and professional performance and study/cover opportunities with Arizona Opera and the Phoenix Theatre. The quality and scope of our program is demonstrated by our professionally active faculty, as well as the success of our alumni who are performing in major opera houses, on Broadway, television and film, in national touring companies, regional theaters, and teaching in university programs throughout the United States and the world.

2nd Place (there was a tie):
Bob Jones University
Darren P. Lawson
Greenville SC
C. Stanley Eby, conductor
Il Trovatore

Bob Jones University
The Bob Jones University Opera Association was founded in 1942 as part of the university’s commitment to liberal arts training for all of its students, who are provided free tickets to the productions.  It has become a national award-winning organization that mounts major operatic works, including Aida, Mefistofele, Samson et Dalila, Tosca, Andrea Chenier, L’Elisir d’Amore, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, La Cenerentola, and others.  Opera productions are presented regularly, with guest artists featured in the principal roles along with student and faculty soloists. Supporting roles and chorus parts are taken by students who show requisite ability.


3rd Place:
The Crane School of Music, SUNY—Potsdam
Kirk A. Severtson
Potsdam NY
The Tender Land

The Crane School of Music, SUNY—Potsdam
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 has won the American Prize in Opera Performance in 2011 and 2012, as well as numerous awards from National Opera Association’s Collegiate Production Competition. We are proud that over 5,000 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 is the host organization for the Domenic J. Pellicciotti Opera Composition Competition, which recently awarded Tom Cipullo a commission and production award for his forthcoming work Mayo, which will be premiered by the Crane Opera Ensemble in November 2018.

Finalist Honorable Mention:
Opera Theatre of Yale College
Emma Clarkson
New Haven CT
The Cunning Little Vixen

Opera Theatre of Yale College
Founded in 1992, the Opera Theatre of Yale College is Yale’s undergraduate opera company, dedicated to offering Yale’s student artists the chance to produce and perform opera. OTYC was led in the 2016-17 season by Artistic Director Elias Brown ’17 and Managing Director Emma Clarkson ’17. Our 25th anniversary season in 2016-17 included Kurt Weill’s Down in the Valley in the fall and Bach’s “Coffee Cantata,” performed in an original English translation in a local coffee shop. Learn more about OTYC at

Finalist Honorable Mention:
University of NC at Greensboro
David Holley
Greensboro NC
Amahl and the Night Visitors

University of NC at Greensboro
The UNCG Opera Theatre, led by David Holley, is highly acclaimed and the recipient of a number of awards. Seven productions have won First Place in the National Opera Association Opera Production Competition since 1993, including Susannah, Little Women, Orpheus in the Underworld, The Consul, Dialogues of the Carmelites, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Don Giovanni, and five production have placed Second: Galileo Galilei, L’Enfant et les sortilèges, La vida breve, Albert Herring and Gianni Schicchi.  Amahl and the Night Visitors also won Third Place.  Recent productions have been finalists in the American Prize Competition: Galileo Galilei (2015) and Dialogues of the Carmelites (2016). The UNCG Opera Theatre commissioned renowned American composer Libby Larsen to write an opera based on William Inge’s play, Picnic, with a libretto written by David Holley.  Picnic was premiered in April of 2009.  For more information, visit

Finalist Honorable Mention:
University of Wisconsin—Madison
David Ronis
Madison WI

University of Wisconsin—Madison
UW-Madison University Opera is a cultural service of the Mead Witter School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose mission is to provide comprehensive operatic training and performance opportunities for students and operatic programming to the community.  Since 1992, we have presented an annual season of two fully staged operas, as well as evenings of opera scenes.  Three of our recent productions - Le nozze di Figaro, Albert Herring, and Transformations - won awards in the 2015 and 2016 National Opera Association Opera Production Competition.  Other productions have included Falstaff, The Magic Flute, The Turn of the Screw, Ariodante and Beatrice et Benedict.  Many alumni of the program are currently enjoying significant opera careers, performing at major houses in the U.S. and abroad.

Honorable Mention:  
University of South Dakota
Vermillion SD 

Tracelyn Gesteland
David Holdhusen, conductor
The Marriage of Figaro

University of South Dakota
The University of South Dakota Opera offers training and performance opportunities for students interested in the art of opera.  Every semester, students have the opportunity to study and perform operatic literature from the common practice period as well as contemporary lyric theater.  Annually, USD Opera presents a main stage opera in addition to children’s touring outreach productions.  In 2016 and 2013, USD Opera was awarded Second Place for The American Prize in Opera Performance, and in 2012, won Third Place in division 3 of the National Opera Association’s Opera Production Competition.  USD Opera was also honored to perform children’s opera excerpts by invitation at the NOA national convention in 2011.


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