Vocal Competition

The Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert presented the 31st Annual Vocal Competition December 7, 2014 at the brand new Helene Galen Performing Arts Center at Rancho Mirage High School.  The Competition drew a near capacity crowd of over 500 people. This annual free event is one of three major programs produced by the Guild.  The Competition offers talented young singers an opportunity to perform before an enthusiastic audience and win valuable scholarships.

Many past winners now celebrities


Sondra Radvanovsky

Sondra Radvanovsky

Many Competition winners are currently singing with major opera companies in such venues as Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, the New York Metropolitan, LA Opera, San Diego Opera and Santa Fe Opera.  Among the most famous are tenor Charles Castronovo who has appeared in virtually every major opera house in the world; soprano Sondra Radvanovsky who recently sang the title role in Norma at the Gran Teatre del Liceu and travels to Moscow for a concert in March; soprano Angela Meade, featured on the November cover of Opera News and singing with Placido Domingo in the Met production of Ernani in March/April, 2015; and soprano Amber Wagner who debuted at the Met in Nabucco and was featured in the film THE AUDITIONClick here to read about previous winners

Who Competes?

Young men and women between the ages of 18 and 32 in the calendar year residing in the western United States submit applications and are auditioned to narrow the field down to nine finalists.   Each finalist performs two arias at the final Competition; all singers receive a scholarship, with prizes totaling more than $20,000.  In addition, an Audience Choice prize  of $1000 is awarded.  The event allows young singers to earn valuable experience, cash scholarships, community recognition of their achievements and the opportunity to advance their careers.  Applications for the 2015 Competition to be held on December 6 will be available later this spring.  Watch this site for updates.

The Judges and Music Director

Our distinguished judges last year were Charles MacKay (General Director of Santa Fe Opera), Dr. Nicolas Reveles (representing San Diego Opera) and Joshua Winograde (Senior Director of Artistic Planning at LA Opera.)   The Palm Springs Opera Guild Music Director is acclaimed UCLA vocal coach and accompanist Mona Lands.

Our Generous Benefactors

The Guild is especially grateful to generous scholarship sponsors Ron Lavo, Barbara Pomar & Craig Salsbury, Yvonne & Steven Maloney, Terry Hendrix, Armen Kazarian, Jean Carrus, Michael Cressey, Bruce Johansen and Stephen Lind.


2014 Finalists Marina Harris, Lauren Michelle, Ben Lowe, Aurelie Veruni, Moises Salazar, Shabnam Kalbasi, Nicholas Brownlee, Alexa Jarvis and Michelle Bradley

Last year 9 finalists competed and an Audience Choice Award of $1000 was given.  First prize was $7000, 2nd prize $5000 and 3rd prize $3000.  Each runner-up received $1000.  The winners were:

First Place: Bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee, sponsored by Ron Lavo

Second Place: Soprano Lauren Michelle, sponsored by Armen Kazarian, Terry Hendrix, Jean Carrus, Michael Cressey, Bruce Johansen and Stephen Lind

Third Place: Soprano Marina Harris, sponsored by Craig & Barbara Salsbury

Runners-up: Soprano Michelle Bradley, Soprano Alexa Jarvis, Mezzo-soprano Shabnam Kalbasi, Baritone Ben Lowe, Tenor Moises Salazar, Soprano Aurelie Veruni, sponsored by Yvonne & Steven Maloney

Audience Choice: Soprano Lauren Michelle, sponsored by Terry Hendrix in memory of Gracia Alkema

Photos from the 2014 Vocal Competition:


2013 Competition Finalists

Photos by Lani

Dmitruk, Lau, Jarvis, Castillo, Adams, Geis, Vasquez, Solis, Ludwig, Bradley


First Place: Adam Lau, Bass

Second Place: Efraín Solís, Baritone

Third Place: Michelle Bradley, Soprano

Fourth Place: Julie Adams, Soprano

Fifth Place: Vladimir Dmitruk, Tenor

Runners-Up: David Castillo, Baritone; Arnold Geis, Tenor; Alexa Jarvis, Soprano; Hannah Ludwig, Mezzo-soprano and Vanessa Vasquez, Soprano

Audience Choice Award: Michelle Bradley, Soprano

 2012 Competition Finalists

2012 Vocal Competition Finalists

Ludwig, Garnier, Počkaj, Harris, Dyachek, Rapier, Guerrero, Chang, Bliss, Adams

First Place: Renée Rapier, Mezzo-soprano

Second Place: Hae Ji Chang, Soprano

Third Place: Julie Adams, Soprano

Fourth Place: Marina Harris, Soprano  (Appeared in Opera in the Park April 7th)

Fifth Place: Hannah Ludwig, Mezzo-soprano

Runners up: Joshua Guerrero, Tenor, Yelena Dyachek, Soprano, Benjamin Bliss, Tenor, Alannah Garnier, Soprano and Jure Počkaj, Baritone.  (Mssrs Guerrero and Počkaj and Alannah Garnier appeared in Opera in the Park April 7th)

Encouragement Award: David Castillo, Baritone.  (Appeared in Opera in the Park April 7th)

2011 Competition Finalists

2011 Competition Finalists Blake, Adams, Gallaway, Garcia, Zammit, Guerrero, Lau, LaGesse, Avetisyan and Vu with Kenneth Morris and Mona Lands

Blake, Adams, Gallaway, Garcia, Zammit, Guerrero, Lau, LaGesse, Avetisyan and Vu with Kenneth Morris and Mona Lands

First Place:  Anush Avetisyan, Soprano

Second Place: Adam Paul Lau, Bass

Third Place: Ricardo Garcia, Tenor

Fourth Place: Joshua Guerrero, Tenor

Fifth Place: Nicholas Zammit, Countertenor

Runners-Up: Julie Adams, Soprano, Aaron Blake, Tenor, Jenina Gallaway, Soprano, Nicholas LaGesse, Baritone and Julia Metzler, Soprano

Encouragement Award:  Brian Vu


2010 Competition Finalists


Fontaine, Kim, Harris, Hirsch, Sayapin, Batalles, Vinzant and Vuong

First Place: Jacquelynne Fontaine, Soprano

Second Place: Yujoong Kim, Tenor

Third Place: Karen Vuong, Soprano

Fourth Place: Joshua Guerrero, Tenor

Fifth Place: Marina Harris, Soprano

Runners-Up: Melissa Batalles, Soprano, Rachael Hirsch, Mezzo-Soprano, Alexey Sayapin, Tenor, and Valerie Vinzant, Soprano

Encouragement Award: Anna Schubert, Soprano

2009 Competition Finalists

2009 Vocal Competition Winners

Cox, Walker, KnJoi, Fontaine, Arsenault, Park, Ruthenberg, Na, Guerrero and Carpenter

First Place: Tracy Cox,  Mezzo-soprano

Second Place: Danielle Walker, Soprano

Third Place: Samantha KnJoi, Soprano

Fourth Place: Jacquelynne Fontaine, Soprano

Fifth Place: Julian Arsenault, Baritone

Runners-Up: Douglas Carpenter, Baritone;  Joshua Guerrero, Tenor;  Bora Na, Soprano; Yoosun Park, Soprano; Tatyana Ruthenberg, Soprano