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Vocal Competition

The Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert will present the 32nd Annual Vocal Competition December 6, 2015 at 3 PM at the Helene Galen Performing Arts Center at Rancho Mirage High School.  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.  This year, in conjunction with the Competition, the Guild inaugurates the prestigious Peggy Cravens Rossini Award, which will be presented to mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Paz.  The 8 finalists this year are Yelena Dyachek, soprano; Anishka Lee-Skorepa, soprano; Lauren Michelle, soprano; Aurelie Veruni, soprano; Alyssa Wills, soprano; Arnold Geis, tenor; Mario Rojas, tenor; Alex DeSocio, baritone.

Click here for more information on the Rossini Award.

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 tenor Charles Castronovo who appears in major opera houses around the world; soprano Sondra Radvanovsky who sings the three Donizetti queens next year at the Met and is featured as an honoree in a recent issue of Opera News; soprano Angela Meade, the youngest singer to be on the cover of the Diva issue of Opera News, who is appearing in the title role of Norma at LA Opera this month through December 13 and will be judging this year’s Competition on December 6; and soprano Amber Wagner who debuted at the Met in Nabucco and was featured along with Angela Meade in the film THE AUDITIONClick here to read about previous 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 more than $20,000.  In addition, an Audience Choice prize of $1000 is awarded as well as the inaugural Peggy Cravens Rossini Award of $5000.  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 and Music Director

Our distinguished judges this year will include world famous Metropolitan Opera soprano Angela Meade, winner of the Guild’s 2003 Competition, David Bennett, General Director of San Diego Opera and Christopher Hahn, General Director of Pittsburgh 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