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Exceptional Talents Win Top Prizes in 2011 Lotte Lenya Competition

April 18, 2011: Caitlin Mathes, mezzo-soprano of Dayville, Connecticut, won the $15,000 First Prize in the finals of the 2011 Lotte Lenya Competition, held on April 16, 2011, at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. Instead of awarding Second and Third Prizes, judges presented three equal prizes of $8,000 each to Jing Lin, soprano, of Putian, China; Emma Sewell, soprano, of London, England; and Jacob Lewis Smith, bass/baritone, of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Judges for the competition were three-time Tony Award nominee Rebecca Luker, Broadway and Encores! music director Rob Berman, and the Artistic Director of the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau, Germany, Michael Kaufmann.

The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, which sponsors the competition, distributed a record $58,000 in prizes this year. In addition to the top prizes, judges presented three Lys Symonette Awards of $2,500 each, named in honor of Kurt Weill's musical assistant on Broadway. Baritone Daniel Schwait of Baltimore and tenor John Viscardi of Philadelphia received awards for Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number, and baritone Jorell Williams of Brentwood, N.Y., received one for Outstanding Vocal Talent. The remaining five finalists each received a total award of $1,000: Alisa Suzanne Jordheim, soprano, of Appleton, Wisc.; Matt Leisy, tenor, of New York; Chris Pinnella, bari-tenor, of Brielle, N.J.; Peabody Southwell, mezzo-soprano, of Los Angeles; and Trevor Strader, tenor, of Queensbury, N.Y.

Now in its 14th year, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes versatile singing actors, aged 19-30, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide variety of musical theater styles. For the 2011 competition, each contestant presented a diverse program that included an aria from the opera or operetta repertoire; two songs from the American musical theater repertoire (one pre-1968 and one from 1968 or later); and a theatrical selection by Kurt Weill. After a preliminary round of auditions by video submission, twelve finalists were selected from a group of thirty semi-finalists who auditioned in New York City for adjudicator/coaches David Loud, Carolyn Marlow and Vicki Shaghoian.

Previous winners continue to land roles on major opera and theater stages around the world. In the past year, they have performed on Broadway (Zachary James, Morgan James, The Addams Family), at the Metropolitan Opera (Ginger Costa-Jackson, Nixon in China), Deutsche Oper Berlin (Rebecca Jo Loeb, Die Zauberflöte, La Traviata), Houston Grand Opera (Rodell Rosel, Madama Butterfly; Liam Bonner, Peter Grimes), New York City Center Encores! (Lauren Worsham, Amy Justman, Analisa Leaming, Where’s Charley?), Arena Stage (Ariela Morgenstern, The Light in the Piazza), Goodspeed Musicals (Lauren Worsham, Carnival!), Opera Theater of St. Louis (Christopher Herbert, A Little Night Music), Santa Fe Opera (Jonathan Michie, Albert Herring), the Kurt Weill Fest (Alen Hodzovic, Rebecca Jo Loeb), and in the 25th anniversary tour of Les Misérables (Richard Todd Adams, Cooper Grodin). Upcoming performances include featured or starring roles at the Spoleto Festival USA (Rebekah Camm, The Magic Flute), Wolf Trap Opera (Anthony McGee, Margaret Gawrysiak, Edward Mout, Sweeney Todd), Tanglewood (Margaret Gawrysiak, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9), Glimmerglass Opera (Ginger Costa-Jackson, Carmen), Opera Theater of St. Louis (Liam Bonner, Pelléas et Mélisande), Houston Grand Opera (Rodell Rosel, Ariadne auf Naxos), Geva Theatre Center (Analisa Leaming, The Sound of Music), TheatreWorks (Ariela Morgenstern, The Light in the Piazza), and on Broadway (Morgan James, Wonderland).

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If you'd like more information about this topic, please contact Kate Chisholm at the Kurt Weill Foundation: (212) 505-5240 or kchisholm@kwf.org.