Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Finalists Announced for International Wagner Competition

Yesterday, we announced the singers who will compete for $60,000 in prizes at for Seattle Opera’s popular International Wagner Competition this summer, 7:30 pm August 7, 2014 at McCaw Hall:

Ric Furman, tenor
Suzanne Hendrix, mezzo-soprano
Roman Ialcic, bass baritone
Kihun Yoon, baritone
Tamara Mancini, soprano
Kevin Ray, tenor
Issachah Savage, tenor
Marcy Stonikas, soprano

The alternates are:

David Danholt, tenor
Helena Dix, soprano

“Our auditions turned up ten remarkable young Wagnerians,” said Seattle Opera’s General Director Speight Jenkins. “They will make our third International Wagner Competition a thrilling and rewarding event. We have in Sebastian Lang-Lessing an exciting new conductor for Seattle Opera. I look forward to hearing the competition and to the decisions made by our distinguished panel of judges.”

The competition is part of a celebratory weekend which also includes a concert (featuring 15 of our favorite singers) and dinner in honor of Speight Jenkins’ three decades at the helm of Seattle Opera.

The International Wagner Competition (also known as “Wagner Idol”) on August 7 is an all-Wagner concert conducted by Sebastian Lang-Lessing, who has extensive experience with Deutsche Oper Berlin. The singers will compete for two prizes of $25,000, to be awarded by a distinguished panel of judges. The audience and orchestra will also play an important role in the competition. Both groups will award a prize of $5,000 to their favorite artist.

This third International Wagner Competition is made possible by a generous contribution from the Nesholm Family Foundation. “Seattle Opera has brought our family its most satisfying artistic experiences,” say John and Laurel Nesholm. “We are thrilled to fund its third International Wagner Competition, which we expect will provide a springboard for several important careers. We look forward to great things from these emerging artists, and are excited that this tradition will continue.”

The judges for Seattle Opera’s third International Wagner Competition are an international group of authorities in all aspects of opera production—mezzo soprano Stephanie Blythe, who has spent five summers in Seattle singing Wagner’s Ring; Peter Kazaras stage director, tenor, and Director of Opera Studies at UCLA; Bernd Loebe, the Director of Opera Frankfurt; Fran├žois Rochaix, director of Seattle Opera’s Ring from 1985 to 1995; and Stephen Wadsworth, director of Seattle Opera’s Ring from 2000 to 2013 and Director of Opera Studies for the Juilliard School.

The first International Wagner Competition was held in August 2006 and made possible by a grant from the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences. Mr. Jenkins created the competition to identify and recognize qualified, emerging opera singers who demonstrate clear promise of an important career in the Wagnerian repertoire. Irish soprano Miriam Murphy and English baritone James Rutherford won the competition in 2006. South African soprano Elza van den Heever and Swedish tenor Michael Weinius won the second International Wagner Competition in 2008. Since then, these four prize-winners, plus many of the other competitors, have gone on to significant artistic accomplishments at opera houses around the world.

To hear audio of the winning performances from 2006 and 2008, explore this Sound Cloud set:

Tickets (ranging from $46 to $66) for the 2014 International Wagner Competition are available online, by phone or in person. For more information, call 800.426.1619 or 206.389.7676 or visit www.seattleopera.org.

For detailed bios of the finalists, CLICK HERE. For more information about the judges and the competition, CLICK HERE. Photo, top, of Speight Jenkins announcing Elza van den Heever's victory in 2008, by Rozarii Lynch.

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