Out of 230 contestants and 15 finalists - more participants than in any previous year - seven outstanding singer-actors rose to the top to win prizes in the 2010 Lotte Lenya Competition, held on April 17 at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. Winners were selected by a team of distinguished musical theater experts: Broadway and opera stars Timothy Nolen and Lisa Vroman, and Rob Berman, Broadway and Encores! music director, who served as judges for the competition finals.
In congratulating the finalists, Vroman noted the importance of a competition that "recognizes them for all the different skills that they have. They were all storytellers and there were all kinds of different voices and colors, so varied and so fabulous."
The First Prize of $15,000 went to Rebekah Camm, soprano, of Chicago. Camm made her operatic debut as Micaëla in "Carmen" with the Houston Grand Opera in 2005, and in October will perform the role of Susanna in "Le Nozze di Figaro" at the Los Angeles Opera, conducted by Plácido Domingo. Judges chose to forgo the Third Prize and instead awarded Second Prizes of $9,000 each to two exceptionally talented but very different performers: David Arnsperger, baritone, of Berlin, and Margaret Gawrysiak, mezzo-soprano, of New York. Arnsperger has won First Prize in Germany's National Singing Competition (in the Musicals category), and Gawrysiak has performed with the Seattle Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, and the San Francisco Opera's Merola Program.
In addition, four contestants took home Lys Symonette Awards, named in honor of Kurt Weill's musical assistant on Broadway. For his riveting rendition of Macheath's "Call from the Grave" from "The Threepenny Opera," Cooper Grodin, bari-tenor, of New York, won for outstanding performance of an individual number. An award for outstanding vocal achievement went to Edward Mout, tenor, of Chicago; Kyle Scatliffe, baritone, of Westwood, N.J., and Timothy J. McDevitt, baritone, of New York, both won awards for extraordinary artistic promise. Each received a cash prize of $2,500.
The 230 contestants, aged 19-32, competed in a first round of live auditions in Rochester, New York City, or by video submission. Each performer prepared a diverse program including an opera/operetta aria, an American musical theater song, and two contrasting theatrical selections by Kurt Weill. In addition to the prizewinners, the other finalists were Betty Allison, soprano, and Andrew Love, baritone, of Toronto; Adam Fry, bass, of Langhorne, Pa.; Elise LaBarge, soprano, of St. Louis; Sara Ann Mitchell, soprano, of Brookline, Mass.; and Benjamin Eakeley, baritone, Minda Larsen, mezzo-soprano, and Joey Wilgenbusch, tenor, of New York City.
Now in its 13th year, the Lotte Lenya Competition was founded by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music in 1998 to encourage versatile singing actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide variety of musical theater styles. Previous winners include rising opera singers Elaine Alvarez (Mimì in "La bohème," Lyric Opera of Chicago), Nicole Cabell (2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World), and Rodell Rosel (Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera); and Broadway actors Amy Justman ("Company", "White Christmas"), Richard Todd Adams ("The Woman in White", "The Pirate Queen"), Erik Liberman ("LoveMusik"), and Zachary James ("South Pacific", "The Addams Family"). Other prizewinners appear frequently in national tours of Broadway shows, regional and major opera companies, and festivals such as Tanglewood, Spoleto and Ravinia.
About the Kurt Weill Foundation
The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc. (http://www.kwf.org) is a non-profit, private foundation chartered to preserve and perpetuate the legacies of composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950) and his wife, actress-singer Lotte Lenya (1898-1981). Kurt Weill is well known as the composer of The Threepenny Opera, Mahagonny, Lady in the Dark, Street Scene, and many other innovative works for the theater. Lenya was one of the foremost interpreters of Weill's work, and had a long career in theater and film as a singer and actress. Founded by Lenya in 1962, the Kurt Weill Foundation administers the Weill-Lenya Research Center, a Grant Program, the Kurt Weill Book Prize and the Lotte Lenya Competition, and publishes the Kurt Weill Edition and the Kurt Weill Newsletter.