Finals for the 2009 Lotte Lenya Competition will be held at the Eastman School of Music on Saturday, April 18, giving local audiences the opportunity to hear exceptional young singing actors from the United States and abroad.
The 13 talented finalists will compete for prizes of more than $35,000 in front of a distinguished panel of judges that includes Teresa Stratas, the world-renowned soprano and actress; Rob Berman, music director of New York City’s Encores! series and musicals off- and on Broadway, and Theodore S. Chapin, president of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and chairman of the board of the American Theatre Wing.
The judges will preside over a unique all-day contest which will start at 11 a.m. in Kilbourn Hall. Each contestant will present a varied program of four numbers, including an opera/operetta aria, an American musical theater song, and two contrasting Kurt Weill selections. During the evening concert, which starts at 8 p.m., each singer will perform a song or aria of their choice; the judges may also request some artists to sing an additional number in the evening concert. Prizewinners will be announced at the end of the concert. Both the first round of the finals, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the 8 p.m. evening concert are free and open to the public.
The Lotte Lenya Competition is an internationally recognized theater singing competition sponsored by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music in Manhattan. Named in honor of the German composer’s wife — the foremost interpreter of his music — the competition was founded in 1998 by Kim Kowalke, the Richard L. Turner Professor in Humanities at the University of Rochester, professor of musicology at the Eastman School, and president of the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music.
Commenting on the one-of-a-kind nature of the Lenya Competition, veteran judge Teresa Stratas said, “This is the only competition that requires young artists to prepare so many kinds of material, and then take comments that the judges give them and immediately put them to work. It’s a terrific idea that does honor to both the art form and Lotte Lenya.”
The 13 international finalists were chosen from 165 contestants who auditioned. They include singers who have performed with the Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago as well as with local opera theatres; who have appeared on stages from Las Vegas to Stuttgart and Wembley Stadium; who are international prize winners and scholarship recipients; and who are natives of Italy, Madagascar, and Germany as well as the United States.
The finalists are: soprano Laura Bohn, 30, soprano, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Ginger Costa-Jackson, 22, mezzo-soprano, New York City; Sequina Dubose, 28, soprano, New York City; Cooper Grodin, 31, bari-tenor, New York City; Alen Hodzovic, 31, tenor, of Berlin, Germany; Zachary James, 27, bass-baritone, New York City; Lauren Jelencovich, 24, soprano, New York City; Megan Marino, 27, mezzo-soprano, Boulder, Colo.; Michael Anthony McGee, 27, baritone, New York City; Yannick-Muriel Noah, 30, soprano, Toronto; Marcy Richardson, 29, soprano, New York City; Jacob Lewis Smith, 28, bass-baritone, New York City; and Lauren Worsham, 27, soprano, New York City.
Over the years, numerous Eastman singers have been selected to compete in the finals of the Lotte Lenya Competition. They have included Nicole Cabell (BM ’01), who was named a special prizewinner in 2002 and who won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2005; Jonathan Michie (BM ’06, MM ’08), who won first prize in 2005, recently appeared in the New York City Encores! production of Music in the Air, and was in the ensemble for the production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the New Musical in October 2008 in Eastman Theatre; Analisa Leaming (BM 2007), who won second prize in 2007 and recently completed an Asian tour of The Sound of Music; Hallie Silverston (MM ’07), who won the third prize in 2006 and was in GeVa’s recent production of Sweeney Todd and in Mercury Opera’s 2007 production of Show Boat; and Michael McKinsey (BA ’01 from the University of Rochester’s College of Art & Sciences, and BM ’02), who won third prize in 2003 and is currently appearing in The Civil War at Ford Theater in Washington, D.C.
After 12 annual contests, the Lotte Lenya Competition winners have an enviable track record: engagements at the Metropolitan Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Lyric Opera of Chicago (Brian Mulligan, Raquela Sheeran, Elaine Alvarez, Rodell Rosel) and roles on Broadway (Richard Todd Adams, Amy Justman, Brian Charles Rooney, Erik Liberman). Other winners are touring in national companies of Broadway shows and appearing in regional theaters.
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11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Lotte Lenya Competition Finals, First Round. Each of the 13 finalists presents a varied program of four numbers.
Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St.
Lotte Lenya Competition Finals Evening Concert. Winners announced immediately afterward.
Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St.