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2010 Lenya Competition Finalists Announced

2010 Lotte Lenya Competition Bigger than Ever

Sixteen exceptionally talented young singer-actors from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Italy have been selected to compete for top prizes of $15,000, $10,000 and $7,500 in the finals of the 2010 Lotte Lenya Competition. The competition finals, to be held on 17 April at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, will culminate in a free evening concert featuring all of the finalists, followed by the announcement of the winners. In addition to the top prizes, special prizes will be awarded. Judges for this year's finals will be Broadway and opera stars Timothy Nolen and Lisa Vroman, and Broadway and Encores! music director Rob Berman.

Held annually by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the Lotte Lenya Competition is an international competition that recognizes talented young singer-actors, aged 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, and emphasizes the acting of songs within a dramatic context. As Kim Kowalke, president of the Kurt Weill Foundation points out, "The finest voices don't necessarily win. It's the combination of acting and singing that matters."

Legendary soprano Teresa Stratas, who has judged the Competition nine times, has called it "one of the most important international competitions in the world."

In this year's competition, 230 contestants from 12 countries entered a first round of auditions, evaluated by regional judges John Lucas, David Green, Lauren Flanigan and Paulette Haupt. This was the largest number of contestants, with the greatest international participation (nearly 20%), in the history of the competition. The increased talent pool also yielded the greatest number of finalists ever.

The 2010 finalists are:

  • Betty Allison, 28, soprano (Toronto, Canada)
  • David Arnsperger, 28, baritone (Berlin, Germany)
  • Rebekah Camm, 31, soprano (Southbury, CT)
  • Ginger Costa-Jackson, 23, mezzo-soprano (Palermo, Italy)
  • Benjamin Eakeley, 31, baritone (New York, NY)
  • Adam Fry, 27, bass (Langhorne, PA)
  • Margaret Gawrysiak, 31, mezzo-soprano (New York, NY)
  • Cooper Grodin, 32, bari-tenor (New York, NY)
  • Elise LaBarge, 30, soprano (St. Louis, MO)
  • Minda Larsen, 29, mezzo-soprano (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Andrew Love, 27, baritone (Toronto, Canada)
  • Timothy J. McDevitt, 23, baritone (New York, NY)
  • Sara Ann Mitchell, 26, soprano (Brookline, MA)
  • Edward Mout, 29, tenor (Chicago, IL)
  • Kyle Scatliffe, 23, baritone (Westwood, NJ)
  • Joey Wilgenbusch, 27, tenor (New York, NY)

Already, these young performers have an impressive roster of credits, including Broadway, national tours and appearances at Canadian Opera Company, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Minnesota Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Spoleto Festival, and Theater Hagen (Germany).

Previous Lenya Competition winners have gone on to play leading roles on Broadway, in regional theaters and national tours (Richard Todd Adams, Kyle Barisich, Jennifer Dyan Goode, Zachary James, Amy Justman, Erik Liberman, Lauren Worsham); to appear in leading roles in major opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opéra National de Paris and Deutsche Oper Berlin (Nicole Cabell, Elaine Alvarez, Lucas Meachem, Liam Bonner, Rodell Rosel); and to sing in concert in the Tanglewood, Spoleto and Ravinia Festivals. Collectively, they have earned dozens of prizes in some of the world's most prestigious vocal competitions, including winning the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition (Nicole Cabell) and Grand Prize of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Paul Corona).

A unique feature of the Lotte Lenya Competition is that, in addition to singing an aria and a song from the American musical theater, contestants must prepare two contrasting songs by Kurt Weill, Lenya's husband and one of the most versatile and influential theater composers of the 20th century (The Threepenny Opera, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Street Scene, Lady in the Dark). Nolen, Vroman and Berman are no strangers to Weill. Nolen has twice played Trinity Moses in Weill's Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny; Vroman has played Anna I in multiple productions of The Seven Deadly Sins and Lucy Brown in The Threepenny Opera; and Berman conducted Lady in the Dark starring Andrea Marcovicci at the Prince Music Theater.

As performers, Nolen and Vroman exemplify the kind of versatile singer-actors the competition seeks to recognize. Nolen, who starred in Phantom of the Opera and Cyrano on Broadway, has also appeared in dozens of operas on such stages as the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago. Vroman has starred in Phantom and Les Misérables on Broadway, The Most Happy Fella with New York City Opera, and Kiss Me, Kate with Glimmerglass Opera, among many other credits. They appeared together in the San Francisco Symphony's Emmy Award winning Sweeney Todd in Concert, with Nolen playing Judge Turpin to Vromanís Johanna.

Also accomplished in a broad range of musical theater, Berman's music direction and conducting credits include Finian's Rainbow, The Pajama Game, Wonderful Town, Irving Berlin's White Christmas (Broadway), Candide, Floyd Collins (Prince Music Theater) and Sunday in the Park with George (Kennedy Center).

Contact: Kate Chisholm, Kurt Weill Foundation, at (212) 505-5240 or kchisholm@kwf.org.