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Vocal Competition

34th Annual Dorothy Nocita Memorial Vocal Competition
Sunday, December 3 at 3 pm
 Helene Galen Performing Arts Center, Rancho Mirage
First Place Award: $15,000, underwritten by Ron Lavo
Auditions to be held at UCLA on November 5, 18 and 19, 2017
To register click on this link
Registration deadline is midnight October 8, 2017

Many past winners now celebrities


Angela Meade
Angela Meade

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 soprano Sondra Radvanovsky who sang the three Donizetti queens last year at the Met and the title role of Tosca at LA Opera; soprano Angela Meade, the youngest singer to be on the cover of the Diva issue of Opera News and who appeared at Caramoor, NY in Bellini’s Il Pirata this past summer; tenor Charles Castronovo who appeared in The Damnation of Faust at Staatsoper Berlin this June as well as in Carmen with Opera Buffs Los Angeles this past August; and soprano Amber Wagner who was featured along with Angela Meade in the film The Audition and joined the Opera National de Lorraine in Ariadne auf Naxos this past summer. Click here to read about previous First Place winners.

Who Competes?

Young men and women between the ages of 21 and 34 in the calendar year residing in the western United States submit applications and are auditioned to narrow the field down to the selected finalists. Each finalist performs two arias at the final Competition; all singers receive a scholarship, with prizes totaling over $40,000 including an Audience Choice prize of $2,000. The event allows young singers to earn valuable experience, cash scholarships, community recognition of their achievements and the opportunity to advance their careers.

The Judges

Our distinguished judges this year will be Clare Burovac, Director of Artistic Operations at Portland Opera, Samuel Gelber, Artistic Administrator of LA Opera and Charles MacKay, General Director of Santa Fe Opera. The Palm Springs Opera Guild Music Director is acclaimed UCLA vocal coach Mona Lands and the accompanist will be Paul Floyd. The preliminary judges will be Guild Artistic Director Andrew Eisenmann, former Guild President and Metropolitan Opera tenor Kenneth Morris, Guild President Bruce Johansen, Guild Music Director Mona Lands and Guild 2nd Vice President Jordan Varela.

Our Generous Benefactors

The Guild is especially grateful to generous sponsors John Nocita in memory of Dorothy Nocita, Ron Lavo, Peggy Cravens, William Galliker in memory of Mick Cressey, Harvey W Hoeppner and Robert A Richards, Terry Hendrix Stephen Lind, Armen Kazarian, Mike & Bobbie Resmo and Jerome & Mary Angel.


Last year’s competition

Sunday, December 4, 2016

First Place $10,000 – soprano Amina Edris, sponsored by Ron Lavo

Second Place $7,500 – soprano Liv Redpath, sponsored by the Frank & Eva Buck Foundation

Third Place $5,000 – mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Paz, sponsored by Dorothy & John Nocita

Fourth Place $3,000 – soprano Madison Leonard, sponsored by the Angel Family, Armen Kazarian, Stephen Lind

Runners-up $2,000 each – soprano Marina Harris, soprano Alyssa Wills, tenor Banner Smith, baritone Michael Aiello, baritone Geoffrey Hoos, sponsored by Yvonne & Steven Maloney, Michael & Bobbi Resmo

Audience Choice $1,000 – mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Paz, sponsored by Terry Hendrix

Rossini First Place $5,000 – soprano Liv Redpath, sponsored by Peggy Cravens

Rossini Second Place $2,500 – baritone Michael Aiello, sponsored by William Galliker

The Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert presented the 33nd Annual Vocal Competition at the Helene Galen Performing Arts Center at Rancho Mirage High School on Sunday, December 4, 2016. This event is one of many annual programs produced by the Guild. The Competition offers talented young singers an opportunity to perform before an enthusiastic audience and win valuable scholarships.

In conjunction with the Competition, the Guild’s prestigious Peggy Cravens Rossini Award was presented to soprano Liv Redpath. Peggy Cravens again underwrote the First Place Award of $5,000 and William Galliker, in memory of Michael Cressey, underwrote a Second Place Award of $2,500 which was presented to baritone Michael Aiello.

Over $40,000 was awarded last winter due to the generosity of our underwriters Ron Lavo, Yvonne & Steven Maloney, The Buck Foundation represented by Robert Walker & Ernie Phinney, Peggy Cravens, Dorothy & John Nocita, William Galliker in memory of Michael Cressey, Stephen Lind, Armen Kazarian, Mike & Bobbie Resmo, the Angel family and Terry Hendrix.

The 2017 Competition will be held on Sunday, December 3 at 3pm at the Helene Galen Performing Arts Center in Rancho Mirage.



2015 Competition Finalists


First Place: Baritone Alex DeSocio, sponsored by Ron Lavo

Second Place: Soprano Lauren Michelle, sponsored by Terry Hendrix

Third Place: Tenor Mario Rojas, sponsored by Armen Kazarian and the George Klauss Memorial Fund

Runners-up: Soprano Yelena Dyachek, Soprano Aurelie Veruni, Soprano Anishka Lee-Skorepa, Soprano Alyssa Wills, Tenor Arnold Geis sponsored by Yvonne & Steven Maloney

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

Inaugural Peggy Cravens Rossini Award recipient: Mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Paz, sponsored by Peggy Cravens


2014 Competition Finalists


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

Nine 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 Terry Hendrix, Jean Carrus, Michael Cressey, Bruce Johansen and Stephen Lind

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

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

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