Eight Finalists Featured in Friends of Eastman Opera Competition

November 10, 2008

More Information:
For Media Only: Helene Snihur (585-274-1057, hsnihur@esm.rochester.edu)
For The Public: 585-274-1110

Eight voice and opera students at the Eastman School of Music will take center stage in the finals of the Friends of Eastman Opera Voice Competition at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, in Kilbourn Hall. The annual event, which is free and open to the public, gives local audiences the exciting opportunity to hear rising vocal talents early in their careers.

The eight students were selected from a preliminary round of competitors who were judged by a panel of Eastman School voice and opera faculty. The adjudicator for the finals is Thomas Lausmann, who as assistant to the music director of the Komische Oper Berlin is responsible for the musical preparation of new main stage productions, participates in casting, and is the music director of the company’s opera studio.

For the finals, singers prepare three arias in two different languages; each sings a work of his or her choice, with the adjudicator picking the second aria. The top three winners will be announced at the end of the recital and will receive prizes totaling $2,250. The first prize of $1,000 is the Lynne Clarke Vocal Prize, donated by Friends of Eastman Opera founding member John Clarke in memory of his wife. A reception open to everyone will be held on the Cominsky Promenade following the competition.

This year’s finalists are:

  • Brent Arnold, baritone, a second-year master’s degree student
  • Maria Bellanca, soprano, a senior
  • Julia Bullock, soprano, a senior
  • John Buffett, baritone, a master’s degree student
  • Lauren Iezzi, mezzo-soprano, a senior
  • Korin Kormick, mezzo-soprano, a doctoral student
  • Amanda Matson, soprano, a second-year master’s degree student
  • Julie Norman, soprano, second-year graduate student

In addition, soprano Debra McKinney, a first-year master’s degree student, was chosen as an alternate.

Lausmann also serves on the music staffs of the Bayreuther Festspiele, the Washington National Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera. He has held positions at the New York City Opera, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Seattle Opera, and Houston Grand Opera, and has worked with emerging young singers through numerous young artist programs. Lausmann received his undergraduate diploma in piano performance from the Hochschule für Musik Stuttgart; his master’s degree in piano accompanying from the Eastman School of Music, where he was a student of Jean Barr; and a Professional Studies Certificate in opera coaching from the Manhattan School of Music.

The winner of the first Friends of Eastman Opera Voice Competition, held in 2001, was Janinah Burnett, who received her master’s degree in 2002 and went on to play the lead in La Bohème on Broadway in 2003.

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Calendar Listing:
Saturday, Nov. 22
3 p.m.
Finals of Friends of Eastman Opera Voice Competition
Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St.
Free and open to the public