David Blalock, from North Carolina, begins this season with several role and house debuts. Upcoming engagements for David include Rodolfo in La Bohème, Ricky in the world premiere reading of The Long Walk, Toby inSweeney Todd, and Jaquino in Fidelio. He has sung recently with Virginia Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Fort Worth Opera, and Central City Opera. He has been awarded prizes from the MONC Regional Final auditions, the Opera Birmingham Competition, the Charles A. Lynam Competition, the Heafner/Williams Competition, the Mario Lanza Competition, as well as others.
Ryan Bradford recently appeared as Jake Wallace and Sid (La fanciulla del West) at the Castleton Festival, Virginia, under the baton of Maestro Lorin Maazel. Other 2013 engagements for the San Francisco native came as John Brooke (Little Women) for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) for both SFCM and the Santa Cruz Symphony, and Masetto (Don Giovanni) for Hidden Valley Opera, Carmel, CA. Upcoming engagements will bring him before the Munich Philharmonic in a production of La fanciulla del West, again under the direction of Maestro Lorin Maazel. Oratorio credits include recent soloist roles in Handel's Messiah with the Rogue Valley Symphony, Poulenc's Le bal masqué with Opera Parallèle, Bach's B Minor Mass with American Bach Soloists, and Schubert's Mass in G with DePaul University. A DePaul University alumnus (BM in Voice Performance and BA in Italian), he received a master of music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2013, studying under César Ulloa. He has received distinction from the East Bay Opera League, Florida Grand Opera Young Patronesses, and Pacific Musical Society.
Lara Lynn Cottrill
Lara Lynn Cottrill recently performed Antonia inTales of Hoffmann and Mamah in Shining Browwith Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. She covered Frasquita with Sarasota Opera and performedThe Foreign Woman with Opera New Jersey. Other roles: Susannah, Barbarina, Sandrina, Lauretta, Papagena, and Adina. Upcoming roles: Pamina and Alice Front. Lara is a 2014 Coeur d'Alene Competition Winner, 2013 NOA Competition 2nd Prize Winner, 2011 Opera Columbus Finalist, and 2009 Pittsburgh Concert Society Winner. Lara received her master's degree from Eastman School of Music and bachelor's degree from the University of Miami. Recital appearances include the East Coast, Italy, Austria, and South Africa.
Jason Duika is quickly making a name for himself in the classical music world, being praised by Oregon music news for having a "big, warm voice" and "spot-on comic timing." This past April, he sang the famous tenor/baritone duet Si pel ciel from Verdi's Otello, opposite tenor Andrew Lunsford, and the aria Di provenza from Verdi's La Traviataat Carnegie Hall's Isaac Stern auditorium. In April of 2013, he sang the baritone solos in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana in Alma College's spring 2013 masterworks concert. In the summer of 2012, Jason covered Metropolitan Opera baritone Kyle Pfortmiller in the role of Valentine in Gounod's Faust at Utah Festival Opera in Logan. In the winter of 2013, he joined Wichita Grand Opera to cover the roles of The Count in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and the great villain Iago in Verdi's Otello. While in graduate school at Portland State in the spring of 2009, Jason sang the role of Ford in Verdi's Falstaff, opposite veteran Metropolitan opera baritone Richard Zeller. Among Jason's other performance credits are Schumann's Dichterliebe, which he has just performed with the Northeast Academy of Dance in Oscoda, Michigan, headed by world-renowned dancers Giuseppe Canale and Scott Heinrich. Jason is a graduate of Alma College, Portland State University, and the renowned Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he performed the title role of Dr. Falke in Strauss' Die Fledermaus.
Portland, Oregon native Nicole Greenidge received her master's and specialist degrees in voice from the University of Michigan. Recent opera credits include Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Susanna (Figaro) and Musetta (La Bohème). Nicole has performed as a concert soloist with regional orchestras and festivals in Michigan, Oregon, Idaho and Washington, and is a featured soloist in Grammy-nominated choral group Conspirare. Ms. Greenidge was 2nd Place Winner in the Bel Canto Vocal Foundation Competition in 2009 and 2013, Michigan District Winner in the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and 3rd Place Winner in the 2013 Nicholas Loren Vocal Competition.
Kathryn Leemhuis most recently made her company debut as Dorabella with Fort Worth Opera in Così fan tutte. She performed the role of Carrie in Ash Lawn Opera's production ofCarousel, and sang Berlioz's Les nuits d'étéwith the Richmond Symphony to great acclaim. Ms. Leemhuis was also recently the mezzo soloist in Haydn's Missa in Angustiis with Chicago's Music of the Baroque, and the mezzo soloist with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago in Handel's Messiah. She performed Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel with the Macon Symphony Orchestra, made her role debut as Florence Pike in Albert Herring with Florentine Opera, and performed at Opera Theatre St. Louis as Dorabella in Così fan tutte. She has also performed Amaltea in Rossini's Mosè in Egitto at the Chicago Opera Theater, Paquette in Bernstein's Candide both with the Ravinia Festival and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Zerlina in Opera Theatre St. Louis' production of Mozart's Don Giovanni. Ms. Leemhuis is the first place winner of the 2013 New York Lyric Opera Vocal Competition, the 2013 Opera at Florham Vocal Competition, the 2012 Bel Canto Competition, and the second place winner of the 2013 Opera Birmingham Vocal Competition, the 2013 Florida Grand Opera Competition, the 2011 Gerda Lissner Foundation Vocal Competition, and the 2010 Fort Worth McCammon Competition.
Named "Debut Artist of the Year" by the Joy in Singing Foundation, lyric mezzo-soprano Abigail Levis is emerging as one of the most exciting young singers of today. The New York Times recently hailed her as a "lithe-voiced" mezzo-soprano in her performance at the Morgan Library in First Songs, a showcase of world premieres with soprano Dawn Upshaw. The Boston Musical Intelligencer praised her for her "dramatic style" and "high level of technical ability" in her performance in Israel in Egypt with the Handel and Haydn Society in Symphony Hall and BerkshireFineArts.com lauded her "warm and resonant mezzo voice" as well as her "rare interpretive gift" in her performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia. As a professional singer, Ms. Levis has appeared as a soloist with the American Symphony Orchestra, Hubbard Hall Opera, Utah Opera, The Crested Butte Music Festival, Ars Lyrica Houston, and the New York Opera Exchange in addition to the Handel and Haydn Society. She is also the winner of several competitions, including the 2014 William C. Byrd Concerto Competition, the 2014 Grand Junction Symphony Competition (second place), the 2013 Classical Singer Competition, the 2013 Oratorio Society of New York Competition (second place), a 2013 Schuyler Grant, the 2011 Young Texas Artist Competition, the 2010 University of Houston Concerto Competition, and the 2010 National Orpheus Vocal Competition.
Twenty-two year old Caleb Barnes is a graduate of the USC Thornton School of Music and he was awarded third prize in the 2012 Western Regional Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. The 2013 summer saw him return to the Aspen Music Festival as Amore in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea conducted by Jane Glover. In concert this year, Mr. Barnes performed excerpts from Aaron Seagle's new opera Brother, Brother at the Industry opera company in Los Angeles. In 2012 and 2010, Caleb sang the role of the Angel in LA Opera's production ofThe Festival Play of Daniel and in 2011 and 2009, he sang the role of Noah's son for LA Opera's production of Noye's Fludde (Noah's Flood), all under the baton of Maestro James Conlon. Caleb is continuing his more than seven years of vocal study with the internationally acclaimed soprano, Shigemi Matsumoto.
After earning her bachelor's degree in philosophy and performing the roles of Donizetti's Adina, Britten's Lady Billows (Albert Herring), Adamo's Jo (Little Women), and Mozart's Fiordiligi at University of California, Santa Cruz, Allie Jessing has forged her path as a singer, actress, model, entrepreneur, and life-hacker. She blogs as the Warrior Diva and owns her own start-up, an online boutique for opera singers. Allie will sing the title role in Alcina at the Napa Valley Music Festival this summer and will attend Mannes in NYC in the fall to earn her master's degree under Beth Roberts and Ruth Falcon.
From Sacramento, CA, Hannah Ludwig was a Finalist of the 2012 and 2013 Palm Springs Opera Guild Competition and has participated in multiple competitions across the state. She has sung principal roles with Pacific Opera Theatre in Orpheus and the Underworld, The Magic Flute, The Threepenny Opera, and performed the role of Meg Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, which won the 2013 Best Opera Production Award by the National Opera Association. She will be receiving her bachelor of music degree in Vocal Performance in May from the University of the Pacific's Conservatory of Music. This summer she will perform the role of Ruggiero in Alcina with the Napa Music Festival and will be moving to Philadelphia for further training.
Chelsea Lyons is a recent graduate of California State University, Fullerton where she was active in musical performance throughout her studies. She has sung the roles of Nancy (Albert Herring), Hansel (Hansel & Gretel), Ambrosia (A Wake or a Wedding – world premiere), and Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors). During the summer of 2013, Chelsea attended SongFest where she appeared in master classes with Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, Jake Heggie, and Suzanne Mentzer. Chelsea also sings professionally in Orange County with the Pacific Chorale and John Alexander Singers, and hopes to earn her master of music in voice in the near future.
Stefan Alexander Miller
Stefan Alexander Miller hails from the San Francisco Bay Area and has performed with opera and theatre companies throughout California. He was recently seen as Hermann inThe Tales of Hoffmann at Independent Opera, Marco in Gianni Schicchi at Riverside Lyric Opera, and Bob inHighway 1 USA at UC Irvine. This summer, Miller will be attending the Russian Opera Workshop at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where he will sing the title role in Eugene Onegin. Miller holds a bachelor of music degree from the University of the Pacific and is currently a first year graduate student at UC Irvine, where he studies with Dr. Darryl Taylor.
Anne Hepburn Smith
Lyric coloratura soprano and Atlanta native Anne Hepburn Smith has performed throughout the United States and Italy, traveling to San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Princeton, and Florence. This summer she will sing Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) with the Portland Summer Opera Workshop and Barbarina (Le Nozze di Figaro) in Vancouver, BC. Recent roles include Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte) and Miss Pinkerton (The Old Maid and the Thief) with Waffle Opera and Cinderella's Mother (Into the Woods) at San Francisco Conservatory. She has a bachelor's degree from Boston Conservatory and a master's degree from San Francisco Conservatory. She studies with Jane Randolph.
A resident and native of Oakland California, Alexander Taite graduated in April 2007 from Pepperdine University with a bachelor's degree in music theory and composition with a vocal performance emphasis and a minor emphasis in jazz piano. Alex sings with the San Francisco Opera Chorus and teaches privately - both piano and voice. He has played jazz and funk/R&B piano with several local bands. In addition, he has performed with several other Bay Area opera companies, including Livermore Valley Opera, Festival Opera, San Francisco Parlor Opera and the Berkeley Opera Company.
2014 COMPETITION JUDGES
Tier II Judge
Steve Aiken is general and artistic director of Shreveport Opera. He previously served as general director for advancement at Nashville Opera and general director of Opera Memphis. An operatic baritone, he launched his career at the age of 21 and made his Lincoln Center debut in 1988. Major roles in Mozart, Donizetti and Verdi works took him throughout the United States, Europe and South America. Aiken created leading roles in 11 world premiere operas including the role of William, in The Fall of the House of Usher, by Philip Glass, and Fahizah in Anthony Davis' Tania, based on the kidnapping of Patty Hearst.
Tier I Judge
Renowned operatic soprano Patricia Craig serves on both the faculty of the New England Conservatory and the San Francisco Conservatory. Her performing career spanned three decades in leading opera houses around the world including the Metropolitan Opera, where she made her debut in 1978 and returned in a variety of leading roles. Craig teaches at the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Austria, The Chautauqua Institute, and The Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute (BASOTI). She serves on the board of both Opera Boston and AIMS.
Tier II Judge
Introduced to opera as a teenage usher at the Santa Fe Opera, Susanne Mentzer is now one of today's foremost mezzo-sopranos, recognized for her generous vocal and interpretive gifts, and is widely admired for her versatility from the recital and concert stage to the operatic arena. For over 20 years she has sung leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, La Scala Milan, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, Opéra de Paris, and other major houses around the world. She has recorded extensive discography and videography from full operatic releases to collaborative recitals including her most recent recording of the works of Carlisle Floyd.
Tier I Judge
Michael Morgan is music director and conductor of the Oakland East Bay Symphony and serves as artistic director of Oakland Youth Orchestra, music director of the Sacramento Philharmonic, artistic advisor to the Peoria Symphony and teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. As a guest conductor, Morgan has appeared with most of America's major orchestras as well as the New York City Opera, St. Louis Opera Theater and Washington National Opera. He makes many appearances in schools throughout the year and is highly regarded as a champion of arts education and minority access to the arts.
José Luis Moscovich
Tier I & II Judge
José Luis Moscovich is general director of West Bay Opera and previously served as music director of San Francisco Camerata, principal guest conductor of Bay Area Concerto Ensemble, and music director of San Francisco Women's Chorus. He has appeared with Concerto Orchestra, ARTEA Orchestra, Marin Chamber Orchestra, Nova Vista Orchestra, Opera Santa Barbara, Opera Idaho, and Teatro El Círculo Opera. He wrote the libretto and conducted the premiere of Corpus Evita by Carlos Franzetti, the recording of which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005.
Tier II Judge
Michael Nutter is artistic director and stage director for the Capitol City Opera Company in Atlanta. He has worked in opera, classical music and theatre for 27 years, including staff positions at Atlanta Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, Central City Opera, Eugene Opera, and as technical director for the Grammy Award-winning Oregon Bach Festival in Eugene. In 2012, he directed for the Atlanta Opera's 24-Hour Project where his team won both audience and judges' favorite for the farcical 10-minute opera Krispy Kremes and Butter Queens, composed by Jennifer Jolley.
Tier II Judge
David Pinkham has directed and performed in numerous local productions. He appeared inFiddler on the Roof and Man of La Mancha for Diablo Theater Company (DTC), To Kill a Mockingbird and Nevermore for Moraga Playhouse, and the Festival Opera Chorus. He was stage manager and technical director for Center Stage Theater, Moraga Playhouse, DTC, and California Academy of Performing Arts before becoming stage director for the annual musicals at Campolindo High School. Pinkham served on the board of Lafayette Town Hall Theater and remains on their Advisory Council.
Tier I Judge
A versatile singer-actor Vicki Shaghoian has appeared on stages from the San Francisco Opera to the Montreux International Jazz Festival, in such works as Jenûfa, Der Rosenkavalier, L'Enfant et les Sortilèges, the world premiere of Un racconto fiorentino, and created the role of Wallis Simpson in Windsor Follies. She has been music director and vocal coach for productions at The Public Theater, The Drama League, New York Musical Theater Festival and many others. She serves on the faculty at The Yale School of Drama.
Tier I Judge
JTVA Founder and General Director James Toland has been a private voice teacher for the past thirty years. His students have performed in major opera houses and on concert stages throughout the world. Toland has served in recent years as a master teacher for the prestigious San Francisco Girls Chorus, and has taught for the Piedmont Children's Chorus and Young Women's Choral Projects of San Francisco, as well as the choral music programs of the Acalanes School District. He has been a clinician for multiple choral groups including the Peninsula Women's Chorus, Cantare Con Vivo, the Young Women's Choral Projects of San Francisco, and for the choirs of the University of Tennessee.