The 2022 Lenya Competition Finals
Friday, May 6th
Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center
Click the image to the right to watch the full Finals film.
Friday, May 6th
Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center
Click the image to the right to watch the full Finals film.
American mezzo-soprano Cierra Byrd is in her second year in the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. This season, she made her Met debut as Bertha in Fire Shut Up in My Bones. Recently, Ms. Byrd appeared in Mahler's Symphony No.3 with The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Marin Alsop. Notable accolades include The Wilson Vocal Award, Peabody’s Artist Excellence Award, and a grant prize from The Gerda Lissner Foundation. She is a graduate of Peabody Conservatory, from the studio of Margaret Baroody and Denyce Graves. Recent roles include the Princess in Suor Angelica and Lady Catherine DeBourgh in the stage premiere of Kirke Mechem’s Pride and Prejudice with Peabody Opera Theatre, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel with Opera Saratoga and Manual Cinema, and the Governess in The Queen of Spades with Des Moines Metro Opera.
Jeremy Weiss is an American-born, Berlin-based baritone and actor praised for his sensitivity and intelligence in opera, musical theater, and art song. His recent performances of Schubert songs in The Wandering were described by Opera News as “full of a languid, indigo-tinged sensuousness that breaks through dimensions and depths of these songs that few performers ever manage to uncover.” In 2019, Jeremy performed on PBS Great Performances’ Bernstein's Mass with the CSO under Marin Alsop. Weiss has also recently been seen in operatic roles as diverse as the title characters of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs and Belli's Orfeo Dolente. In music theater, Weiss has performed as Curly (Oklahoma!), Freddy (My Fair Lady), and Wolf/Prince (Into the Woods). Weiss completed an MM at Indiana University with pedagogue Dr. Brian Gill and a BA from Yale University. He is thrilled to be back at the Lotte Lenya Competition where he has twice been a finalist and award winner (2019, 2020).
Toronto-based soprano Ruth Acheampong is completing her Master of Music in Voice and Opera at McGill University under the tutelage of John Mac Master. Ruth has performed the roles of Frasquita and April in excerpts from Bizet’s Carmen and Sondheim’s Company, respectively. In 2019, Ruth took part in a table read for Covenant Chains, a new chamber opera by Canadian composer Peter Skoggard and librettist Jerry Prager. Last year, she performed the role of Jeannette in the Canadian premiere of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ L’amant anonyme. She also participated in the workshop of a new opera, Vanishing Point, by Parisa Sabet and Nika Khanjani in a collaboration between Opera McGill and Musique 3 femmes. This season, Ruth sang the role of Dorinda in Handel’s Orlando with Opera McGill and the McGill Baroque Orchestra under the baton of Hank Knox.
Hailing from Fort Wayne, IN, Ian Williams is thrilled to be a first-time LLC finalist! Since graduating from the University of Michigan (BMA/BTA '15), Ian has performed as the bass soloist in Handel's Messiah and the Fauré and Mozart Requiems, hosted educational concerts with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and appeared onstage with Broadway veteran J. Mark McVey (Les Misérables). Ian’s recent roles include Coalhouse Walker, Jr in Ragtime and Jason in Ordinary Days with the theater company Art 4 in South Bend, IN. He is a co-founder of the Fort Wayne chapter of Opera on Tap, which presents casual operatic performances in bars. This past February, Ian performed the recital Deep River: The Music of Black Composers in honor of Black History Month. In addition to singing, Ian is passionate about education and serves as a Unit Director at the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Indiana.
Lauren Senden will begin her senior year this fall at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, OH. She began her training in her hometown of North Mankato, MN and continued with the Prelude: Singer/Actor Performance Lab at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis. At Baldwin Wallace, she studies voice with Cynthia O'Connell and Ben Malkevitch and acting with Victoria Bussert. After graduation, she plans to move to New York to begin her career as a music theater artist. Lauren was a 2019 Jimmy Award Nominee and 2018 Triple Threat Winner from the Hennepin Theatre Trust's Spotlight Education Program. Outside of her studies, she loves writing and spending time with her boyfriend. She is currently writing a book to serve as a guide for young artists training in music theater. She would like to thank her family for their love, support, and prayers.
Eric Botto is best known for his vocal and dramatic versatility on stage, with credits as Alfredo in La traviata, Rodolfo in La bohème, Henrik in A Little Night Music, the title role in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, and Piangi in The Phantom of the Opera. In the summer of 2020, Eric was privileged to perform in the world premiere of In Our Silence, a song cycle created by composer Frances Pollock and librettist Jerre Dye, which highlighted each of the Chautauqua Opera young artists’ experiences during COVID-19 isolation. He is excited to return to Chautauqua this summer where he will perform as Spoletta in Puccini’s Tosca and Andrew Johnson in Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All. Eric holds degrees from Colorado State University and the University of Mobile, and is currently in the Artist Diploma program at the University of Colorado Boulder under the tutelage of Dr. John Seesholtz.
Indian-American soprano Francesca Mehrotra has been hailed as “a talented and warm actor and singer” with “clear, deft and nimble tone (Glens Falls Chronicle).” In the 2022-23 season, Francesca will cover Clara (The Light in the Piazza) and sing Ida (Die Fledermaus) at Central City Opera. At Opera Colorado, Francesca will cover Gilda (+performance) and sing Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto, Mabel and Juliet in touring productions of Pirates of Penzance and Romeo and Juliet, and Juliette in Die Tote Stadt. Previous roles include Gretel (Hansel & Gretel) with Fort Worth Opera’s Children’s Opera Theatre, Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) and Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare) at Seagle Festival, Zelda ‘18 (The Ghosts of Gatsby) with Opera Birmingham at the Opera America New Works Forum, Norina (Don Pasquale) and Mukhtar Mai (Thumbprint) at Boston Conservatory, and Nannetta (Falstaff), Tytania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Lucinda (Dark Sisters) at Texas Christian University.
Tristan Tournaud is a Nashville, TN native. He is currently in his senior year and will be completing his Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music this May. Recent performances include Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte, Jupiter in Handel’s Semele, and Sid in Britten’s Albert Herring. Upcoming engagements include performances of Handel's Messiah and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Nashville Symphony, as well as Rigoletto with Nashville Opera. This summer Tristan will be performing the role of Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with Trentino Music Festival in Italy. Tristan is also an organist, and has been studying organ at The Blair School for most of his undergraduate career.
Katrina Galka has appeared on professional stages across the United States and abroad, including Japan, Egypt, Oman, Switzerland, and Austria. She has performed lyric coloratura roles at the Wiener Staatsoper, Opernhaus Zürich, Atlanta Opera, Portland Opera, Arizona Opera, New Orleans Opera, Opera San Jose, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Odyssey Opera, On Site Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, and the Seiji Ozawa Music Academy. Crossover roles performed include Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music, Johanna in Sweeney Todd, Cunegonde in Candide, and Luisa in The Fantasticks. Additionally, Katrina has received awards from YoungArts, the Mario Lanza Institute, National Opera Association Vocal Competition, Jensen Foundation, Marcello Giordani International Vocal Competition, and the Heida Hermanns International Vocal Competition, and was a Lys Symonette Award recipient in the 2021 Lotte Lenya Competition. Future engagements include Julie Jordan in Carousel, as well as soloist debuts with Bayerische Staatsoper and Staatsoper Hamburg.
A native of Atlanta, GA, Ronald Wilbur graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Vocal Music Education. While studying there, he broadened his knowledge in many areas of music, ranging from classroom management to effective stylings of vocal jazz. Ron has recently performed several lead roles such as Sweeney Todd, Colehouse Walker, Jr. (Ragtime), and Lion (The Wiz), and was a featured vocalist on NBC’s hit television series The Sing-Off (Season 4) with the University of Kentucky “acoUstiKats”. In addition to performing, Ron regularly leads workshops in the US and abroad, covering the pedagogy of the singer's body, stage presence, and acting techniques. Ron is proud to serve as an educator and arts facilitator for many organizations in Central Kentucky.
Delaware-based soprano Amanda Sheriff recently sang with Opera Delaware as Norina (Don Pasquale), and with Baltimore Concert Opera as Monica (The Medium). This summer, Amanda will perform concerted works with various companies, including Penn Square Music Festival and Wilmington concert opera. In 2021, Amanda was an Apprentice Artist at Des Moines Metro Opera where she performed Miss Lightfoot (Fellow Travelers) and covered Clarine and L’amour (Platée). Amanda was also a Studio Artist at Florida Grand Opera where she performed the roles of Beatrice (Three Decembers), 1st Trio member (Trouble in Tahiti), Célie (Signor Deluso) and Babs (New York Stories). During the 2019/2020 season, Amanda sang Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) and Little Red (Little Red’s Most Unusual Day) with Opera Iowa, and participated in DMMO’s virtual season. She was also an Emerging Artist at the Seagle Festival and sang Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro) in 2019.
JEANINE TESORI is a composer of musical theater, opera, television and film. She won the Tony Award for Best Score (with bookwriter & lyricist, Lisa Kron) for the musical Fun Home. Her other musicals include Kimberly Akimbo (with David Lindsay-Abaire), Caroline, or Change (with Tony Kushner), Shrek the Musical (with Lindsay-Abaire), Thoroughly Modern Millie (with Dick Scanlan), Violet (with Brian Crawley), and Soft Power (with David Henry Hwang) which was her second work after Fun Home to be a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Along with Missy Mazzoli, she is one of the first women to be commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. Her operas include A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (Tony Kushner, libretto), Blue (Tazewell Thompson, libretto) which received the MCANA Award for Best New Opera, and the upcoming Grounded (George Brant, libretto) at the Met. In addition to her work as a composer, Jeanine is the Founding Artistic Director of New York City Center’s Encores! Off-Center series, Supervising Vocal Producer of Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, and lecturer in music at Yale University.
PHILLIP BOYKIN is a 2012 Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award nominee for his portrayal of Crown in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess on Broadway. He is the winner of a 2012 Theatre World Award, as well as the 2012 International Reviewers of New England Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award from The Hartt School of Music. Recent film roles include Big Hand in Freedom starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sharon Leal, The Driver in Top Five, starring, written and directed by Chris Rock, and Caiaphas in John O’Boyle’s Easter Mysteries. A native of Greenville, SC, Phillip is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music. He also studied Jazz and Vocal Performance at South Carolina State University, Howard University and the North Carolina School of the Arts. He has toured throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Russia, and North America. Notable roles include Joe in the National Tour of Show Boat and at several regional theaters; The Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance, Ken in Ain’t Misbehavin’, Crown/Jake in Porgy and Bess, Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia, Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar and Jesus Christ Superstar Gospel, Fred in Smokey Joe’s Cafe, and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte. Phillip performed in the 15th anniversary concert of Ragtime at Lincoln Center, and made his Carnegie Hall debut in Broadway Classics in 2013. He is the Director and Manager of the NY Gospel Brothers, and is currently appearing on Broadway in The Music Man.
ROBIN GUARINO is a theatre, opera and film director based in New York City and Cincinnati. She has directed over 90 original productions and her work has been presented by opera companies, theaters, orchestras and festivals including the Metropolitan Opera, The San Francisco Opera, The Houston Grand Opera, Canadian Opera Company, The Cincinnati Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, The Glimmerglass Opera Festival, The Bard Summer Festival, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and the BAM Next Wave Festival among others. Lincoln Center has long been an artistic home to Robin. She became a member of the Metropolitan Opera Stage Directing Staff in 1992 and has been invited back to direct over a dozen productions including, Così fan tutte with James Levine for Live in HD and Der Rosenkavalier with Edo de Waart for Live in HD. Robin is deeply committed to the development of new work. She is the Co-Artistic Director of Opera Fusion: New Works and has helped developed 20 world premier operas for companies including, The Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Santa Fe Opera to name just a few. To date she has directed 7 world premier operas. Her recent production of the world premiere of Blind Injustice for Cincinnati Opera garnered national acclaim was identified as groundbreaking new work and “opera as activism” addressing the theme of false incarceration in the criminal justice system. She is currently at work on a new opera about the artist/activist, Paul Robeson. A visionary of young artist training, she has served as the Dramatic Advisor to the Juilliard Opera Theater (2004-2008) and the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair of Opera and Artistic Director at The Cincinnati College-Conservatory (2008-2019). She has been an artist-in-residence at the San Francisco Opera Center, Merola Program since 2002.