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Competition Winners…Where are they now?

Many of the Palm Springs Opera Guild Vocal Competition First Place winners are enjoying exciting careers. We’ve been tracking their careers and are pleased to present the following update:

2016 Egyptian-born, New Zealand soprano Amina Edris is a first-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow who made her company debut as Frasquita in Carmen. She was a participant of the 2015 Merola Opera Program.  Roles in her repertory include Norina (Don Pasquale) Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Serpina (La Serva Padrona), Adina (L’Elisir d’Amore), and Gilda (Rigoletto). Ms. Edris is a winner of the prestigious Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Operatic Aria Competition and the Deborah Reidel award in the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award Competition 2013, as well as the Western Regional Special Encouragement Award in the 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Ms. Edris holds a Bachelor of Music from University of Canterbury, a Master of Music from Wales International Academy of Voice, and a post-graduate diploma from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Her upcoming engagements include Tina in Jonathan Dove’s Flight with Opera Parallèle.

2015 Baritone Alex DeSocio earned his Bachelors of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University and his Masters from the University of Maryland with the Maryland Opera Studio. He is a former resident artist with Pittsburgh Opera and Opera Colorado. In addition Mr. DeSocio is a two-time alumnus of the Merola Opera Program. He was a finalist with Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition and a semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Mr. DeSocio performed the role of Malatesta in Don Pasquale with the Merola Opera Program in 2015 as well as appearing in the Merola Grand Finale at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. Last year he sang the role of Ramiro in L’heure espagnole with Opera Memphis, was in the Met semi-finals and won the Opera Birmingham Competition, taking First Place and Audience Choice Award. This season he performs with Fort Worth Opera.

2014 Bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee is a 2015 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He is completing his second year as a Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist at LA Opera, where he made role debuts as the Speaker in The Magic Flute, the Bonze in Madama Butterfly and Captain Gardiner in Moby-Dick, all conducted by James Conlon, as well as Colline in La Boheme conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. He made his Atlanta Opera debut as Colline in La Boheme, and also appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as the Physician in Pelléas et Mélisande, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Mr. Brownlee returns to LA Opera for the 2017 season to perform in Salome and The Tales of Hoffmann. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut this winter in Salome. Mr. Brownlee appeared in last year’s Opera in the Park and has since won First Place in the Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Cape Town and the coveted Zarzuela Award in Placido Domingo’s Operalia. Mr. Brownlee is represented by Columbia Artists Management.

2013 Bass Adam Lau won Second Place in our Competition two years ago before winning First Place in 2013. He appeared as the High Priest of Babylon in Nabucco, Angelotti/Sciarrone in Tosca and Palemon in Thaïs at Florida Grand Opera in Miami and sang the role of Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro at Dallas Opera and Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte at Opera Naples. He also appeared in the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni at North Carolina Opera. Last year Mr. Lau sang with the Opera Theater of St. Louis in Handel’s Richard The Lionheart and interpreted the role of Papa in the Seattle Opera world premiere of An American Dream. He was the top prize winner in the George London 2015 Competition in New York and recently won First Place in the 17th annual Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition. Mr. Lau sang the role of Lodovico in Otello with the Minnesota Orchestra last summer and appeared with North Carolina Opera in Das Rheingold. He performed last fall in the title role of Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro with Lyric Opera of Kansas City and in the Messiah at Carnegie Hall. Next April Mr. Lau will appear as Mephistopheles in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic production of La Damnation de Faust. He is represented by Ken Benson Artists.

2012 Mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier is the recipient of the Chautauqua Studio Artist Award, a winner in the Schubert Club Scholarship Competition, a national finalist of the Bel Canto Vocal Scholarship Foundation and a 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions national semifinalist. She has sung at Wolf Trap and the Ravinia Festival and appeared at the Seoul Arts Center. Ms. Rapier performed at LA Opera in the role of Cherubino in Ghosts of Versailles and again as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. Last year she sang the role of Anna in Maria Stuarda for Seattle Opera. She made her debut with San Francisco Opera as Mercedes in Carmen last July.

2011 Soprano Anush Avetisyan is currently a resident artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. She created the role of Alice B. Toklas in the world premiere of a new chamber version of Jonathan Sheffer’s Blood on the Dining Room Floor with text by Gertrude Stein in 2011. In 2012 she was a prize winner in the Loren L. Zachary Competition and also won First Place in the Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition. She was a Wolf Trap Studio Artist and has performed for many Guild events including the 2014 Opera in the Park. Ms. Avetisyan recently won First Prize in the Deborah Voigt International Vocal Competition at Vero Beach.

2010 Soprano Jacquelynne Fontaine co-hosted and sang in the 2011 Opera in the Park in Palm Springs and was a prize winner in the 2010 Loren L. Zachary Competition. In 2012 she sang in A Room With A View at the Globe in San Diego and then in The King And I at the Lebanon Opera House in New Hampshire. A Little Night Music followed at the Indianapolis Repertory Theater and La Traviata at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma, Washington. She appeared in The Sound of Music at the Northshore Playhouse in Beverly, Maine and just came off a tour as Carlotta in the National Tour of Phantom of the Opera.

2009 Soprano Tracy Cox was named winner of the 2012 Marilyn Horne Song Competition at the Music Academy of the West and winner of the prestigious 2013 Operalia Birgit Nilsson Prize. That same year she performed in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Pasadena Symphony and sang in Mahler’s 8th Symphony at the Cincinnati May Festival. Ms. Cox won the 2014 George London-Flagstad Award for a potential Wagnerian singer. She has appeared at Wolf Trap and sang the title role of Aida at Opera San Luis Obispo. She appeared in Verdi’s Requiem in Waterbury, CT. and made her debut with LA Opera in the role of Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, under the baton of Placido Domingo. She appeared last summer in the Miami Wagner Institute’s production of scenes from Die Walkure and this coming season will be covering two roles at the Met.

2008 Baritone Joseph Kyung Teak Lim made his professional debut singing the title role in Don Giovanni in 2008 with the Seoul Metropolitan Opera. He was one of the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions Finalists in March, 2011. He was named USC Thornton’s Marilyn Horne Scholar and was the baritone soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, Mozart’s Missa Brevis in C Major and Handel’s Messiah.

2007 Soprano Amy Yekel’s awards include: the Arizona Lyric Opera Scholarship, The Canton Civic Opera Scholarship, The Akron Symphony Chorus Scholarship, Tuesday Musical Club Scholarship, The McDowell Scholarship, The John Macdonald Scholarship, The Fairlawn United Church of Christ Scholarship and the Tuesday Musical Club Finalists Scholarship. Ms. Yekel made her professional debut in 2012 with Toledo Opera in Turandot. She also appeared in Verdi’s Requiem with Toledo Symphony.

2006 Bass Apollo Wong has sung the roles of Superintendent Budd in Britten’s Albert Herring, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ariodante in Handel’s Serse, Frère Laurent and Le Duc in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Un Mandarino in Puccini’s Turandot, Zuniga in Bizet’s Carmen and Barone Trombonok in Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims. He is presently enjoying a successful career as a conductor in Hong Kong, is the Music Director Laureate of The Hong Kong Youth Choir and has been Music Director of the Learners Chorus since 2005.

2005 Soprano Amber Wagner was a winner of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Finals and was featured in the documentary “The Audition.” Chosen by Opera News as one of twenty-five artists poised to become a major force in classical music in the coming decade, she returned to the Met as Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera. In 2014 she received a glowing review for her performance in La Forza del Destino at Washington National Opera and was one of the featured singers at SummerStage, the Met’s summer recital series. Ms.Wagner’s recent performances include Lyric Opera of Chicago as Leonora in Il Trovatore, Elisabeth in Tannhäuser and Ariadne auf Naxos at Minnesota Opera and Palm Beach Opera.

2004 Tenor Kalil Wilson lives in Northern California. He is a renowned jazz and classical singer who has performed at the Met as well as at Disney Hall and is currently enjoying a successful singing career performing in jazz clubs in Oakland and San Francisco.

2003 Superstar soprano Angela Meade was the 2011 recipient of the Richard Tucker Award. She sang the role of Leonora in Il Trovatore at the Met and was featured in Norma at Washington National Opera in 2013. Angela wowed the audience at the 2014 Richard Tucker at 100: An Opera Celebration on PBS. She sang last year in Il Trovatore in Berlin, in Il Due Foscari in Madrid and performed in recital in Santa Fe. Ms. Meade also appeared in Moscow as Ermione and in Madrid as Norma. In November she sang in Rossini’s Ermione in Lyons and Paris and she recently travelled to Sevilla, Spain to sing in Anna Bolena. See her this year in Verdi’s Steffelio in Bilbao, in Verdi’s Requiem in Houston and in April-May in the Met production of Don Giovanni. Read more.

2002 Baritone David Babinet is an acclaimed cantor in New York City. He has sung with companies in Chicago, Tel Aviv, Portland, San Jose and in Los Angeles alongside Placido Domingo in the Young Artists Program. He appeared with LA Opera as Marcello in La Boheme, and Opera San Jose as Count Almaviva in La Nozze di Figaro, as well as the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel where he sang Ford in the opera Falstaff.  Mr. Babinet was a member of the Portland Opera resident artist program, a participant in the Chicago Opera Theatre’s young artist program, and a member of the prestigious LA Opera Resident Artist Program.

2001 Tenor Rodell Rosel was a 2005 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Finals and made his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut that same year. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 in Der Rosenkavalier and Les contes d’Hoffmann. He sang with LA Opera in Madama Butterfly in 2012 and appeared in the title role of Britten’s Albert Herring at Florentine Opera in Milwaukee. Mr. Rosel performed in the Guild’s Opera in the Park in 2013 and sang the role of Spoletta in Tosca at LA Opera. He sang with LA Opera in the role of Bardolph in Falstaff and as Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte in 2014. He recently sang in Der Rosenkavalier with Lyric Opera of Chicago and in Siegfried with Houston Grand Opera. He appears this April in the LA Opera production of Les contes d’Hoffmann and with Seattle Opera in Die Zauberflöte this May. Read more.

2000 Baritone Gregorio Gonzalez sang with Theatre an den Wien in Vienna, Nederlands Opera, Opera de Panama, Opera de Tijuana, Opera de Guanajuato, Connecticut Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera and San Diego Comic Opera. He began a three-season residency with LA Opera in 2002 and in 2010 appeared in the world premiere of Il Postino. He sang with the Dana Point Symphony, in Il Segreto di Susanna at UCLA and in David Conte’s America Tropical at the Plaza de la Cultura in Los Angeles. Recently he was featured in the Long Beach Opera’s production of Fallujah in the role of Lalo. He also appeared with LBO as El Payador in the acclaimed production of Maria de Buenos Aires. Mr. Gonzalez was the featured soloist at the Guild’s April 2014 Thank You Party at Smoke Tree Ranch and performed again for the Guild this past November at the Opening Season party along with accordionist/composer Nick Ariondo.

1999 Baritone Andrew Fernando was a prize winner in the Met National Auditions in the Los Angeles district and in the Pacific region and the Grand Prize winner in the Pasadena Opera Guild Vocal Competition in 2004. 2003 brought him a First Prize in the prestigious Loren L. Zachary Vocal Competition. In 2008 Mr. Fernando performed the title role in Rigoletto in Modesto and reprised the role with Opera San José. The 2007-2008 season included appearances in the New York City Opera’s productions of Cendrillon and Tosca.

1998 Tenor Bruce Sledge debuted with the Met in two Mozart roles: Tamino in The Magic Flute and Ferrando in Così fan tutte. In 2013 Mr. Sledge appeared at the Spoleto USA Festival in Charleston and was featured in Maria Stuarda at the Welsh National Opera. In 2014 he sang the role of the Duke in Rigoletto with Boston Lyric Opera and Percy in Anna Bolena in Bordeaux. In addition, he was featured at Santa Fe Opera as Mon. Popescu in The Impressario and The Fisherman in Le Rossignol. In 2015 he appeared again in Santa Fe as the Duke in Rigoletto. He joined the Canadian Opera Company last spring in Maometto Secondo.

1997 Co-Winner Soprano Erin Wood came to public attention at the Lyric Opera of Chicago when she replaced Deborah Voigt on short notice as Sieglinde in Die Walküre. She has appeared onstage at San Francisco Opera and Opera Colorado as Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera. Elsewhere Ms. Wood performed Lisa in The Queen of Spades for Opera Grand Rapids, Lady Billows in Albert Herring for the Music Academy of the West, Mavis in The Fantastic Mr. Fox for LA Opera and productions of The Flying Dutchman and The Magic Flute for Opera Pacific.

1997 Co-Winner Soprano Priti Ghandi has had a 20 year international opera career, singing in houses such as the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Opera, Theatre de Chatelet in Paris, Covent Garden, the Estates Theatre in Prague, LA Opera, the Memphis Symphony, Michigan Opera Theatre, San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, New York City Opera, the Caramoor International Music Festival and UNAM in Mexico City. She was a member of the Grammy award winning recording of Kurt Weill’s The Rise and Fall of The City of Mahagonny with LA Opera and was a winner of the International Dvorak Competition in the Czech Republic. Ms. Gandhi was a Western Region Metropolitan Opera semi-finalist and, for the last few years, has been San Diego Opera’s Artistic Administrator.

1996 World-renowned tenor Charles Castronovo has sung with virtually all of the world’s major opera companies. This season includes performances with Opernhaus Zurich in Faust,  Bayerische Staatsoper in Lucia di Lammermoor, the Moscow Philharmonic Society in Werther and Weiner Staatsoper in La Traviata. Read more.

1995 Soprano Robin Follman has performed with the Houston Grand Opera, LA Opera, New York City Opera, Washington Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Pacific, Florentine Opera, Singapore Lyric Opera, Lyric Opera of Malaysia and Hawaii Opera. She sang the title role in Turandot at Mobile Opera and Nedda in I Pagliacci for Cleveland Opera. She also appeared with Arizona Opera in the title role in Salome. Ms. Follman is currently leading the family-owned manufacturing business, Markall, Inc. in Santa Ana, California.

 1993 Soprano Jessica Siena has performed with the Stockton Opera, the New York City Opera touring company, the Los Angeles Music Theatre Company, on the concert stage with the Stockton Symphony, the New Pacific Trio and Livermore Valley Opera. She currently resides in Stockton, CA.

1990 Superstar soprano Sondra Radvanovsky has performed in every major opera house in the world. This season she sang in Norma with the Canadian Opera Company, Manon Lescaut with the Royal Opera House and reprised the title role of Norma at Lyric Opera of Chicago. She travels to the Opera de Monte Carlo in March to appear in Simon Boccanegra. Read more.

1989 Mezzo-soprano Anita Krause has performed with many of North America’s leading orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Baltimore Symphony and the Toronto Symphony. The Canadian singer has also appeared with the Utah Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, the Grant Park Festival, Lanaudiere Festival and Les Violons du Roy. In April of 2015, Ms. Krause made her highly acclaimed debut at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival as the Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music. Other engagements in the 2015-2016 season include Mahler’s Symphone No. 8 with the Calgary Philharmonic, Mozart’s Requiem MASS with Symphony Nova Scotia and Bach’s Mass in B Minor with Chorus Niagara.

Updated January 31, 2017