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Dallas Opera Guild Prizes Awarded

by Jerome Weeks 16 May 2011 10:25 AM

The Dallas Opera Guild awarded $20,500 in prizes to talented young singers Saturday at the Winspear Opera House.


Saturday, the Dallas Opera Guild presented $20,500 to the ten finalists (with Texas connections) in its 23rd Annual Vocal Competition.

SMU grad John Holliday, Jr., a 26-year-old countertenor currently at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, won the top prize ($8,000). The second place was a tie between two sopranos, 21-year-old Katrina Galka, another SMU student, and 21-year-old Maren Weinberger, studying at Oklahoma City University — each won $4,000.

There was no third place prize. Instead, the judges chose to present a “Special Encouragement” Award and $1,500 to 22-year-old soprano Julie Marx, a Rice University grad.  The People’s Choice Award and $1,500 went to 29-year-old baritone Norman Garrett, a Texas Tech grad.

In addition, seven other finalists were given $250 grants.

The full press release:

The 23rd Annual “Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition” Awards $20,500 in Prize Monies!


Countertenor John Holiday, Jr. Takes Top Prize and $8,000 Cash!


Second Place Tie ($4,000 Apiece) for Sopranos Katrina Galka and Maren Weinberger


“People’s Choice Award” Winner Norman Garrett


Honoring Longtime Dallas Opera Supporter Patti Cody

DALLAS, MAY 14, 2011 –The Dallas Opera Guild’s 23rd Annual Vocal Competition for young opera singers concluded on a high-note this evening when ten outstanding finalists (with Texas connections) were awarded a total of $20,500 in prize monies.  The historic evening marked the first time this much-anticipated spring musical event has graced the stage of the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Downtown Dallas.

26-year-old countertenor John Holiday, Jr., a 2007 graduate of Southern Methodist University now working towards a master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (2012), wowed judges and audience members alike with his extraordinary renditions of “Crude furie” from Händel’s Serse and “Che farò senza Euridice” from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, which showcased the exceptional beauty and timbre of his unusual vocal type.

He was accompanied by Andrew Packard.

Among his many awards and accomplishments, Mr. Holiday has performed as a soloist with the Bourbon Baroque, the Cincinnati Boychoir, the Catacoustic Consort, the Meadows Symphony Orchestra and other ensembles.

His stage experience includes Tolomeo in Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Bertarido in Rodelinda, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Testo in Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda for the College-Conservatory of Music.  He also appeared in the roles of Nerone (L’incoronazione di Poppea) and Federico (Ainadamar) in selected scenes performed at SMU.

Mr. Holiday has taken First Place in the Sophomore, Junior and Senior Men’s Division competitions sponsored by the National Association of Teachers of Singing.  He has also been a finalist in the Corbett Scholarship Competition (2010) and twice placed in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, both district and regional.

Now an apprentice artist for the Santa Fe Opera, Mr. Holiday will cover the role of Corrado in an upcoming production of Vivaldi’s Griselda, being touted as “the first major U.S. production” of this work.

Mr. Holiday received his $8,000 award from this year’s honoree: Patti Cody.

The 2011 Guild Vocal Competition ended in a tie for Second Place, shared by two very distinctive sopranos.

21-year-old Katrina Galka, a senior at Southern Methodist University studying with Barbara Hill Moore, dazzled the audience with her crystalline coloratura voice and her intelligent phrasing, performing “Caro nome” from Verdi’s Rigoletto and “The Fire Aria” from Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortileges (accompanied by Jason Smith).  In 2009, she sang the roles of Barbarina and Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) and Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) in the Amalfi Coast Music Festival near Naples, Italy.  With the SMU Meadows Opera Ensemble, she has performed roles including Eurydice in Orpheus in the Underworld, Elisa in Il re pastore, the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor and Baby Doe in The Ballad of Baby Doe.

A 2010 Merola Regional Finalist, Miss Galka is both a cantor and choir member at Christ the King Catholic Church in Dallas, and appeared as a soloist in “The Messiah” at the First United Methodist Church, Irving.

21-year-old Maren Weinberger, an undergraduate studying Vocal Performance with Larry Wade Keller at Oklahoma City University, has appeared in numerous operas, operettas and musicals for her school, as well as Light Opera Oklahoma.  Roles include Nedda in Pagliacci, Violetta in La traviata, Anna Gomez in The Consul, Giulia in The Gondoliers, and Osa in A Little Night Music.

This recipient of the 2007 Tommy Tune Scholarship Award and the 2007 TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) Solo Acting State Champion (First Place) has also been a member of the Houston Grand Opera High School Vocal Studio (2006-2007).  She left the audience entranced with her touching renditions of “O luce di quest’anima” from Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix and “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, accompanied by Julian Reed.

Former Dallas Opera Guild President Connie Klemow presented a $4,000 prize to each of the Second Place winners.

The judges chose not to award a prize for Third Place this year, instead opting to give a special “Encouragement Award” and a $1,500 cash prize to 22-year-old soprano Julie Marx, a Rice University graduate currently pursuing graduate studies in music with Barbara Hill Moore at Southern Methodist University.

A section leader at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Miss Marx (an Ohio native) has appeared in a variety of university-level opera and orchestral performances including the role of Cupid in this year’s Orpheus in the Underworld at SMU, Despina in Così fan tutte at the Lyric Opera Studio Weimar, and as a soloist in Rice University orchestral performances of Arthur Honegger’s King David and Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols.

She charmed the crowd this evening with her silvery coloratura, well-displayed in a saucy rendition of Donizetti’s “Chacun le sait” from La fille du regiment, as well as a selection from Der Freischütz, “Kommt ein schlanker Bursch gegangen,” accompanied by Jason Smith.

The prize was awarded by Contestant Co-Chair Don Jones.

For the thirteenth consecutive year, opera lovers attending the daylong program were encouraged to cast ballots for the “People’s Choice Award,” a $1,500 prize which went to 29-year-old baritone Norman Garrett, a Texas Tech University graduate who was awarded a Bachelor of Music Degree in 2005 and has since gone on to earn a Master’s at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (2009).  He now studies with David Lofton at the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Garrett possesses a commanding stage presence and a rich baritone with great vocal color.  During this evening’s finals round he performed “È sogno? O realtá” from Verdi’s Falstaff and “Sois immobile” from Rossini’s Guillaume Tell (William Tell), accompanied by Julian Reed.

The “People’s Choice” honor—decided by the ballots of those participating audience members—was awarded to Mr. Garrett by the Presidents of the Dallas Opera Guild, Martha and Robert Allday.

Additionally, seven finalists were honored with $250 grants:

Bass-baritone Noel Bouley, age 27

Baritone Adam Cannedy, age 26

Soprano Dee Donasco, age 28

Baritone Norman Garrett, age 29

Mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm, age 23

Soprano Julie Marx, age 22

Soprano Audra Methvin, age 24

Judges for the semifinal and finals rounds were:

  • Daniel Biaggi, General Director of Palm Beach Opera
  • Andreas Melinat, Director of Artistic Administration for Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Christina Scheppelmann, Director of Artistic Operations, Washington National Opera
  • Joshua Winograde, Artistic Administrator & Director, Domingo-Thornton Young Artist program, Los Angeles Opera
  • And from The Dallas Opera, Artistic Director Jonathan Pell, who also serves as artistic advisor to this eagerly anticipated annual competition.

This year’s honoree, indefatigable Dallas Opera and Dallas Opera Guild patron and supporter Patti Cody, whose lifelong love affair with opera began at the age of eleven or twelve when she heard the strains of a Metropolitan Opera broadcast through a neighbor’s screen door.  It was Patti who introduced and instilled a love of the art form in her husband, John T.Cody, Jr., who not only became an avid operagoer himself, he went on to serve twice in the past five years as the Dallas Opera’s Interim General Director.

Whether putting together a custom “gimme” cap to show her support for the Dallas Opera’s world premiere of Moby-Dick, or giving nervous competitors a broad smile of encouragement before they go onstage, Patti Cody lights up the room with her passion, her enthusiasm, and her unquenchable desire to bring out the best in those around her.

The Dallas Opera Guild’s Vocal Competition not only provides vital assistance to the young opera stars of tomorrow; it also creates an outstanding opportunity for people from every walk of life to hear exceptional up-and-coming talents, in free, public performances.

And tough economic times may even increase the value of these experiences for young singers, according to Dallas Opera General Director & CEO Keith Cerny: “We believe that competitions like this are extremely important for young singers, allowing them to build their experience levels and confidence in the midst of an increasingly difficult artistic environment.”

As the awards were announced, Washington National Opera’s Christina Scheppelmann told the singers, “I think you should see this as a great exercise and experience for you (an audition for several at once) and I encourage you to do as many as possible.”

Joshua Winograde of Los Angeles Opera remarked to the finalists, “There’s something inherently difficult about competitions…to have made it this far and to have accomplished so much means you are all to be commended and you should truly feel like winners—regardless of the outcome.”

Audience members agreed that this was one of the finest field of competitors ever assembled for this annual competition.

Select Stars of Earlier Competitions

Clifton Forbis (tenor), winner of our second annual Vocal Competition in 1990, has forged a dynamic international career.  He sang the title role of Samson in Samson et Dalila at San Francisco Opera and Siegmund in the Canadian Opera Company’s 2006 production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen to open their new Four Seasons Opera House.  He also performed Act I of Die Walküre in January 2006 with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center.  Mr. Forbis has sung Otello at La Scala and in numerous productions at the Metropolitan Opera and other important theaters around the world and – most notably – brought his interpretation of the role to open the new Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at The Dallas Center for the Performing Arts in October of 2009.

1998 First Prize winner Latonia Moore (soprano), who also captured the inaugural People’s Choice Award that year, brought the audience to their feet in her memorable 2004 Dallas Opera debut as Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen, earning the Maria Callas Award for The Dallas Opera debut of the year.  She “triumphed as a radiant-voiced Micaela” recreating that role for her debut with the New York City Opera.  The New York Times wrote of “her radiant, warm sound and lovely phrasing,” saying, “What she has already is special: a distinctive, poignant sound that makes an audience sit up.”  She made her Carnegie Hall debut in the title role of L’Arlesiana for Opera Orchestra of New York and not long ago made her debut at London’s Covent Garden as Liu in Turandot.

Jesus Garcia (tenor) competed in The Dallas Opera Guild’s Vocal Competition in 1996, 1997, and 1999, winning Second Place that year.  Long a favorite of Guild members, Jesus studied at the University of North Texas before attending the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.  Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2001 who starred as Rodolfo in Baz Luhrman’s La bohème on Broadway, Jesus has also sung the Berlioz Requiem at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the role of Prince Ramiro in La Cenerentola with the Washington National Opera at Kennedy Center, as well as in School matinee performances for The Dallas Opera.  Mr. Garcia has performed at the Spoleto Festival, Houston Grand Opera, and Bordeaux Opera (France), among other venues.

Third Place winner Steven LaBrie (baritone) barely met the age requirement to enter our 2006 competition, then walked away with both the People’s Choice Award and a special Mozart Aria award given by TDO’s former General Director Karen Stone in honor of the composer’s 250th birthday.  His win propelled him into a coveted spot at AVA, where he performed roles in Il barbiere de Siviglia and Eugene Onegin, in addition to his role as Antonio in Le Nozze de Figaro with The Living Opera.  He went on to take First Place in an historic tie with baritone Michael Sumuel in the 2009 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition and made his official Dallas Opera debut this past season in the role of Paris in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet.

Tenor Scott Scully, winner of the 2000 People’s Choice Award, has sung with Opera Ontario (Canada), San Francisco Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and Arizona Opera and recently made his Dallas Opera debut in Lohengrin.  He was a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program.  Very active in concert, he has sung Carmina Burana with the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Ballet, Falstaff and Billy Budd with the Cleveland Orchestra, and has collaborated with a list of illustrious conductors.  In addition to the Dallas Opera Guild award, he received the Pavarotti award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, among others.

Jennifer Black (soprano), winner of our 2001 Vocal Competition and the People’s Choice Award, has participated in the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.  In 2006, she made her debut with the New York City Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, and sang at Carnegie Hall. She was previously a National Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and was described by The New York Times as “a sensitive, rich-voiced soprano.”  This past season at the Metropolitan Opera she sang leading roles in Adriana Lecouvreur and La sonnambula.

Angela Neiderloh (mezzo soprano), Second Place winner of the 2002 competition, spent three years in the Houston Grand Opera Studio, and has sung with the San Francisco Opera Center, Wolf Trap Opera, and the Houston Grand Opera.  Her concert credits include solos with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, and the Columbia Symphony, among others.  The New York Times has praised her as “an engaging coloratura mezzo-soprano.”

Marjorie Owens, First Place winner of the 2002 competition and the People’s Choice Award, was a winner of the 2006 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.  She was a member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Opera Center for Young Artists, after spending three years with the Houston Grand Opera Studio.  She has performed with the Fort Worth Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera in Washington, D.C., and the Aspen Opera Theater.  The New York Times included Marjorie in their compilation of “the upcoming Great Big American Voices.”