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Posted by on Jan 7, 2014 in new articles, News | 0 comments

Seattle Opera Announces Finalists for 2014 International Wagner Competition

Seattle Opera Announces Finalists for 2014 International Wagner Competition

General Director Speight Jenkins announced the singers selected for Seattle Opera‘s popular International Wagner Competition on August 7, 2014, where emerging artists will go head-to-head American Idol style.

The competition is part of a celebratory weekend which also includes a concert and dinner in honor of Speight Jenkins’ three decades at the helm of Seattle Opera (and featuring 15 of the company’s favorite singers) on August 9.

In an all-Wagner concert conducted by Sebastian Lang-Lessing, who has extensive experience with Deutsche Oper Berlin, eight finalists and two alternates 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.

Singers, all between the ages of 25-40, were nominated by general directors, managers, and other established opera professionals. Following auditions in Munich, London, New York, and Seattle in the fall of 2013, eight finalists were chosen to compete. This third International Wagner Competition is made possible by a generous contribution from the Nesholm Family Foundation.

The competitors are:

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

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; François 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.

“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 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.

Beginning with its first presentation of the Ring in 1975, Seattle Opera has built an international reputation as the leading presenter of the Wagner repertoire in the United States. This Wagner tradition began under the leadership of the company’s founding general director, Glynn Ross, and has been expanded under Speight Jenkins. During Mr. Jenkins’s tenure, Seattle Opera has completed the formidable artistic feat of producing all ten of Wagner’s major operas-including two very different productions of Wagner’s Ring-which have been accompanied by seminars and symposia featuring leading opera scholars from the world over. By taking a leading role in discovering and promoting outstanding young singers with a desire to carve out a career that includes the Wagner repertoire, Seattle Opera is extending its ongoing commitment to the music of Richard Wagner.

Lead Sponsor – Nesholm Family Foundation
Orchestra Choice Prize – Betty and Jack Schafer
Audience Choice Prize – Wagner and More

“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.”

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


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