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Competition Winners…Where are they now?

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


2018 Vocal Competition Alumni news – Bass Adam Lau (2013 competition winner and Baritone Efrain Solis (2013 second place winner) will both be performing in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet this month with Utah Opera.

2017 Soprano Liv Redpath began her 2017/18 season as a second year Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist with LA Opera. Her stage work in LA Opera’s 2018 season includes singing L’Amour in John Neumeier’s new production of Orphée et Eurydice, Frasquita in Carmen, Countess Ceprano as well as covering Gilda in Rigoletto and Cunégonde in Candide. She appeared in the Opera Guild’s Opera in the Park this spring and sang the role of Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at Santa Fe Opera this summer. This winter Ms. Redpath sings the role of Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with LA Opera.

2016 Soprano Amina Edris is a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow who made her company debut as Frasquita in Carmen. 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. She sang in Opera in the Park last year and is performing this season in La Traviata, Rigoletto and Elektra with SF Opera. Ms. Edris performed the role of Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore with New Zealand Opera in June.

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. 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. He recently performed with Fort Worth Opera in Carmen and appeared in Don Pasquale with Livermore Opera last fall. In March Mr. DeSocio sang with Opera Birmingham in Romeo et Juliette.

2014 Bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee is a 2015 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. As a Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist at LA Opera he had 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 returned to LA Opera last year to perform in Salome and The Tales of Hoffmann. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut last winter in Salome. Mr. Brownlee has appeared in 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. Earlier this year he appeared with Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe in Alcina where he returned this summer for Anna Bolena.

2013 Bass Adam Lau won Second Place in our Competition two years ago before winning First Place in 2013. 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 in 2017 and appeared with North Carolina Opera in Das Rheingold. He performed the title role of Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro with Lyric Opera of Kansas City and in the Messiah at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Lau appeared as Mephistopheles in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic production of La Damnation de Faust as well as in Samson and Delilah with North Carolina Opera. He just was seen as Sarastro in The Magic Flute with Kentucky Opera and is slated to sing the role of Frere Laurent in Romeo and Juliet for Utah Opera this month and Ferrando in Il Trovatore with Seattle Opera this coming January.

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. Ms. Rapier performed at LA Opera in the role of Cherubino in Ghosts of Versailles and again as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. She recently appeared with Opera Parallèle in San Francisco in At the statue in Venice and Trouble in Tahiti and sang in June in Die Walküre with SF Opera; she sang with the Newport Music Festival and in Don Giovanni with Opera Steamboat, Colorado this summer. See her next April in the role of Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with San Jose Opera.

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. In 2016 Ms. Avetisyan 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 recently and continutes to tour as Carlotta in the National Tour of Phantom of the Opera. Ms. Fontaine sang in last year’s Opera in the Park and will be featured in the Guild’s Season Opening Party this November 4th and well as hosting the upcoming Dorothy Nocita Memorial Vocal Competition on December 2nd here in Palm Desert for the Palm Springs Opera Guild.

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. Ms. Cox appeared in the Miami Wagner Institute’s production of scenes from Die Walkure and covered two roles at the Met last season.

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. Last season she sang with the Met in The Flying Dutchman. She made her debut in the title role of Aida with Opera Australia and reprised Senta in Der fliegende Holländer in Rome with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia with Mikko Franck conducting, as well as in Turin with the National RAI Symphony Orchestra with James Conlon. In addition, Ms. Wagner returns to the Oregon Symphony to sing Verdi’s Requiem under the baton of Carlos Kalmar.

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 then traveled to Sevilla, Spain to sing in Anna Bolena. Earlier this year she sang in Verdi’s Steffelio in Bilbao and in Verdi’s Requiem in Houston. Ms. Meade appeared  in the Met production of Don Giovanni and in Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass with the LA Philharmonic. She appeared in Handel’s Alcina with Washington National Opera in November and shared the title role of Norma with Sondra Radvanovsky at the Met in December. She sang the title role in Rossini’s Semiramide at the Met earlier this year and appeared in Rotterdam in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8. Ms. Meade recently sang the title role in Adriana Lecouvreur in Frankfurt, Germany. See her this fall in Boito’s Mefistofele at the Met. 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 appeared in the LA Opera production of Les contes d’Hoffmann, recently sang with Seattle Opera in Die Zauberflöte and appeared with Lyric Opera of Chicago as Pang in Turandot. Mr. Rosel sang in Das Rheingold this spring both with Arizona Opera and Fort Worth Opera.

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.

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 Mr. Sledge appeared again in Santa Fe as the Duke in Rigoletto. Recently he appeared in Meyerbeer’s Le Prohete with Deutsche Oper Berlin, this spring sang in Anna Bolena with Canadian Opera Company and was seen this summer in Ariadne Auf Naxos at Santa Fe Opera.

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. Last season included performances with Opernhaus Zurich in Faust, Bayerische Staatsoper in Lucia di Lammermoor, the Moscow Philharmonic Society in Werther and Weiner Staatsoper in La Traviata. He made a special appearance in the LA Opera Buff’s production of Carmen as Don Jose last summer and appeared in La Traviata with Paris Opera, Bastille. Mr. Castronovo was featured in Carmen with Toulouse Opera this spring and has an ambitious schedule next season in Berlin, London, Paris and Munich, culminating next June 2019 in Los Angeles as Alfredo 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. Earlier this year Ms. Radvanovsky returned to Opera Liceu to sing in Andrea Chenier and then joined Canadian Opera for Anna Bolena. This summer she appeared in Il Trovatore at Paris National Opera. She returns to the Met this fall in the title role of Tosca, followed by Aida at the Met and Tosca again in Vienna.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 included Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Calgary Philharmonic, Mozart’s Requiem with Symphony Nova Scotia and Bach’s Mass in B Minor with Chorus Niagara.

Updated October 1, 2018