The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music today announced the twelve exceptional singing actors who will compete for a top prize of $25,000 in the final round of the twenty-fifth annual Lotte Lenya Competition, the internationally renowned theatrical singing contest. The finals are set to take place Saturday, 29 April as part of a celebratory weekend of events at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, the Competition’s original home. Kim Kowalke, President of the Kurt Weill Foundation and Founder of the Competition, remarks: “What a remarkably talented and diverse dozen this year’s finalists are, and what a privilege for them to perform for such a distinguished jury. It will be an extraordinary weekend celebrating the Lenya Competition at 25.”
Each finalist will perform a continuous fifteen-minute program of four contrasting numbers, including one by Kurt Weill. The jury for the final round includes luminaries from the worlds of theater and opera. The four panel members this year are: Dame Josephine Barstow DBE, long recognized as one of the world’s leading singing actresses; Kyle Scatliffe, currently appearing in Hamilton on Broadway as Marquis de Lafayette / Thomas Jefferson and a 2010 Lenya Competition prizewinner; Ted Chapin, longtime President and CEO of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and co-founder of the Encores! series at City Center; and James Holmes, expert British conductor of opera and musical theater, with a long and brilliant track record especially in the works of Weill and Sondheim.
The Finals will take place in the afternoon. In the evening, ten Competition alumni spanning the competition’s 25-year history return to the Eastman School’s Kilbourn Hall for a Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Gala Concert of musical theater and operatic favorites. Appearing will be eleven alumni prizewinners, headlined by international opera star Brian Mulligan, the top prize winner of the first competition.
The 2023 Competition awards presentation will follow, when prizes totaling more than $120,000 will be bestowed. Other free weekend events include panels featuring winners, judges, and other key participants from past years, plus a performance by Eastman School of Music students of scenes from Kurt Weill’s stage works. On display throughout the weekend will be exhibits of Lenya Competition highlights as well as Weill’s manuscripts, which have been housed at the Sibley Music Library since 1998, when the first Competition celebrated their arrival. Events will stream live online at www.kwf.org.
The 2023 Competition drew a pool of 271 applicants representing 20 countries and 36 US states. Twenty-four were selected as semifinalists, who auditioned in-person and received immediate feedback and coaching from one of the two semifinal round judges: prominent music director Andy Einhorn and “Leading Lady of Crossover” Amy Justman. Reflecting on his experience, Einhorn relates: “Coaching the semifinalists was a real highlight for me… this year’s group all had such beautiful potential and gave over so easily to the notion of listening to coaching!”
Ranging in age from 27 to 32, the 2023 Finalists are as follows:
Taylor-Alexis DuPont (Orlando, FL)
Rebekah Howell (Hendersonville, TN)
Ryan Johnson (Muleshoe, TX)
Stavros Koumbaros (Shelton, CT)
Midori Marsh (Toronto, Canada)
Celeste Rose (New York, NY)
Alicia Russell Tagert (Richmond, VA)
Jeremiah Sanders (Marion, IN)
Lucie St.-Martin (Montreal, Canada)
Juliane Stolzenbach Ramos (Madrid, Spain)
Nyla Watson (Cleveland, OH)
Ian Williams (Fort Wayne, IN)
About the Lotte Lenya Competition
More than a vocal competition, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes talented young singer/actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in repertoire ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary Broadway scores, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Since its inception in 1998, the Lotte Lenya Competition has grown into an internationally recognized leader in identifying and nurturing the next generation of “total-package talents” (Opera News) and rising stars in both the opera and musical theater worlds. In awarding more than $1.5 million in prize money since the Competition’s inception, the Kurt Weill Foundation has celebrated the talent and supported the careers of hundreds of singing actors worldwide.