Thirteen exceptionally talented young singing actors from Broadway, the Metropolitan and New York City Operas, and many other theaters in the United States and abroad will compete for prizes of more than $35,000 in the finals of the 2009 Lotte Lenya Competition in Rochester, New York, on Saturday, 18 April. Founded in 1998 by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the Lenya Competition honors the legacy of Kurt Weill's muse and wife, Lotte Lenya. This year's distinguished panel of judges will include Teresa Stratas, the world-renowned soprano and actress; Rob Berman, music director of New York City's Encores! series and musicals off- and on Broadway; and Theodore S. Chapin, President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and Chairman of the Board of the American Theatre Wing.
The judges will preside over a unique all-day contest in which each contestant first presents a varied program of four numbers, including an opera/operetta aria, an American musical theater song, and two contrasting Kurt Weill selections; followed by call-backs (closed to the public) where the judges may work with some contestants on a given number; finishing with an evening concert in which the artists perform the song or aria they have chosen. After the call-backs, the judges may also request some artists to sing an additional number in the evening concert. At the end of the concert, Kim H. Kowalke, President of the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, will announce the prizewinners.
Commenting on the one-of-a kind nature of the Lenya Competition, veteran judge Teresa Stratas said: "This is the only competition that requires young artists to prepare so many kinds of material, and then take comments that the judges give them and immediately put them to work. It's a terrific idea that does honor to both the art form and Lotte Lenya."
Chosen from more than 165 contestants at regional competitions and from video submissions, the international group of thirteen finalists performing on 18 April are:
After twelve annual contests, the Lenya Competition winners have an enviable track record: Winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World competition (Nicole Cabell), engagements at the Metropolitan Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Lyric Opera of Chicago (Brian Mulligan, Raquela Sheeran, Elaine Alvarez, Rodell Rosel), roles on Broadway (Richard Todd Adams, Amy Justman, Brian Charles Rooney, Erik Liberman). Other winners are touring in national companies of Broadway shows and appearing in regional theaters.
The Lenya Competition finals at Eastman School of Music's Kilbourn Hall offer the audience a chance to be on the spot when a new star is discovered. The first round, in which each contestant will sing his/her full program, runs from 11 a.m until 3 p.m. The evening concert featuring all finalists begins at 8 p.m., and winners will be announced immediately thereafter.