January 8, 2014: The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music is pleased to announce the online release of Singing the Story: The Lotte Lenya Competition, a new documentary film about the prestigious international contest for singer-actors. Produced by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc., and directed, filmed, and edited by Granny Cart Productions, the 18-minute high-definition film traces the journey of the 2013 Competition, on stage and off, through the semi-finals, finals, and a 15th anniversary celebration concert at New York's Symphony Space. Through live footage and interviews, Singing the Story reveals the rigorous and unique nature of the Lenya Competition, which challenges singers to go beyond the usual "stand and sing" approach of vocal competitions by requiring them to present fully acted performances of wide-ranging theater repertoire, from opera to Broadway.
Singing the Story: The Lotte Lenya Competition is available for viewing, sharing and embedding at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPp6omjsGk8.
"I can't imagine a more challenging competition for a singer," says four-time judge and Encores! Music Director Rob Berman in the film. Broadway leading lady Rebecca Luker, who has judged the Competition three times, attests, "This is a competition of the highest quality," and opera star Patricia Racette, who judged the 2013 Finals, adds, "It's a great way to pull up amazing and unique talent."
Singing the Story explores the demands and rewards of the Lotte Lenya Competition as several exceptionally talented young performers wend their way through the 2013 contest, aiming to win the $15,000 First Prize. Dynamic live footage provides an intimate view of the process, as semi-finals judges Rebecca Luker and Jeanine Tesori offer contestants valuable insights during coaching sessions; finalists take their programs to new heights in a packed concert hall at the Eastman School of Music; Finals judges Ted Chapin, James Holmes, and Patricia Racette deliberate over the winners; and the First Prize winner is announced. Spotlights on past winners demonstrate the lasting impact of the Competition, and an anniversary concert at Symphony Space celebrates its legacy as eight winners perform an all-Weill program alongside Broadway veterans. Interviews with 2013 judges and contestants, Kurt Weill Foundation President and Founder of the Competition Kim Kowalke, past judges Rob Berman and Victoria Clark, and past winners Zachary James, Justin Hopkins, Analisa Leaming, Erik Liberman, and Lauren Worsham, reveal the significance of this one-of-a-kind contest, whose winners are just as likely to appear in a major opera house as on Broadway. As Kim Kowalke sums it up in the film, "You can't come up with a template for the winner. They're all very different. The one thing that they have in common is that they have to show that they can pretty much do it all."
October 23, 2013: The 2013 Kurt Weill Book Prize for outstanding scholarship in music theater since 1900, carrying a cash prize of $5,000, has been awarded to Stephen Hinton, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Music at Stanford University, for his book Weill's Musical Theater: Stages of Reform. Published in 2012 by the University of California Press, Hinton's musicological study offers the most comprehensive overview yet of Weill's output for the stage. In tracing Weill's extraordinary journey as a theatrical composer, comparing his works to each other while situating them within larger contexts, Hinton demonstrates how Weill's experiments with a range of genres, forms, and styles constitute a continuously innovative and coherent development, from his first children's pantomime and early operas through his final Broadway musical. Hinton's long-term engagement with Weill has resulted in several other essential volumes, including Kurt Weill: The Threepenny Opera for the Cambridge Opera Handbooks series and the critical edition of the score and text of Die Dreigroschenoper for the Kurt Weill Edition.
In addition to the book prize, a $2,000 Kurt Weill Prize for outstanding article has been awarded to Christopher Chowrimootoo for his article "Bourgeois Opera: Death in Venice and the Aesthetics of Sublimation," published in the Cambridge Opera Journal in 2011. The prize panel commended the essay for taking on "a work, a composer, a defined period in the history of a genre, and a larger critical approach and attitude towards musical style and meaning that potentially touches all scholars of 20th-century music." Chowrimootoo, an Assistant Professor of Musicology and Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame, also received the Royal Musical Association's Jerome Roche Prize for his article.
Awarded biennially by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the Kurt Weill Prize recognizes distinguished scholarship in music theater since 1900, including opera and dance. Books and articles published in 2011-2012 were eligible for the 2013 prize; nominations were reviewed by a panel of music and theater experts.
Click on photos above for larger images.
September 10, 2013: The Lotte Lenya Competition seeks exceptionally talented young singer/actors who excel in a wide range of musical theater styles for the 2014 competition. Contestants will compete for top prizes of $15,000, $10,000 and $7,500; total prizes awarded will exceed $50,000.
Established in 1998 by the Kurt Weill Foundation, the Lotte Lenya Competition is a unique international contest that bridges the worlds of opera/operetta and Broadway musical theater, following the example of Lenya's husband, composer Kurt Weill. More than a vocal competition, the contest emphasizes wide-ranging repertoire and the acting of songs and arias within a dramatic context.
The 2014 Lotte Lenya Competition is open to artists ages 19-32 born after December 31, 1981 and before January 1, 1995. Contestants must follow repertoire guidelines and submit a video audition on DVD by January 31, 2014. For those unable to prepare DVDs, limited live auditions will be held on January 25, 2014; the deadline to apply for a live audition is January 10. Semi-finalists will be invited to audition in New York City on March 7-8, 2014. Finalists will each receive an award of $1,000, plus a stipend to offset the cost of travel to the Competition finals, which will be held on April 12, 2014, at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York, USA.
Contestants must prepare a program of four selections: one selection 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. They will be judged on their ability to interpret text and portray a character, along with stage presence, beauty of voice, and vocal technique.
A panel of distinguished musical theater and opera professionals will judge the Competition. Past judges have included world-renowned soprano and actress Teresa Stratas; legendary director and producer Harold Prince; and Broadway leading ladies Victoria Clark and Rebecca Luker.
Previous winners perform regularly on Broadway, in regional theaters and international tours, and in major opera houses in the United States and Europe. Highlights of their upcoming performances include Lauren Worsham as Phoebe D’Ysquith in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway, Douglas Carpenter as Joey in The Most Happy Fella at Goodspeed Opera House, Caitlin Mathes as Jenny in The Threepenny Opera at Indianapolis Opera, Liam Bonner in the title role of Billy Budd at Los Angeles Opera, Rebecca Jo Loeb as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel and Zerlina in Don Giovanni at Hamburg State Opera, and Jonathan Michie as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte at Leipzig Opera.
April 15, 2013: Douglas Carpenter, baritone, of New York, won the $15,000 First Prize in the finals of the 15th anniversary Lotte Lenya Competition, held on April 13, 2013, at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. Maren Weinberger, soprano, of New York, received the Second Prize of $10,000, and two Third Prizes of $7,500 each were awarded to Alison Arnopp, soprano, of County Cork, Ireland, and Lauren Roesner, soprano, of Cincinnati. Founded in 1998 to celebrate the centenary of Lenya's birth, the Lotte Lenya Competition is an international theater singing contest that recognizes talented young singer/actors, ages 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire.
Carpenter impressed the judges with a dynamic program that included "Pierrot's Tanzlied" from Korngold's Die tote Stadt and "Molasses to Rum" from the Sherman Edwards musical 1776. The other prize winners also presented exceptionally compelling performances of repertoire ranging from Donizetti and Gilbert & Sullivan to Weill, Loesser, Bernstein, Michael John LaChiusa, and Jeff Blumenkrantz.
This year's panel of judges included acclaimed soprano and 2010 Opera News Award winner Patricia Racette, British opera and musical theater conductor James Holmes, and Theodore S. Chapin, President of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Vice-Chairman of the American Theater Wing.
Chapin, who has judged the Competition eight times, said, "The Lenya Competition was founded to address a need for performers who can both sing and act. In the spirit of Kurt Weill, it bridges the gap between musical theater and a more serious kind of sung-through theater. It's the perfect way to do it, and it's been a wonderfully successful program."
The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, which sponsors the competition, distributed a record $61,500 in prizes this year. In addition to the top prizes, judges presented two Lys Symonette Awards of $3,000 each, named in honor of Kurt Weill's musical assistant on Broadway. For Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number, the awards went to soprano Rachel Kara Cordeiro-Pérez of Brooklyn, New York, for her performance of Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Breathe" from In the Heights, and to mezzo-soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson of Sandy, Utah, for her performance of "Alto's Lament" by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich. The remaining six finalists each received an award of $1,000: Daniel Berryman, tenor, of New York; Christian Ketter, tenor, of Chicago; Mingjie Lei, tenor, of Hengyang, China; Erin Mackey, soprano, of Astoria, New York; Heather Phillips, soprano, of Philadelphia; and Christy Sullivan, mezzo-soprano, of Sydney, Australia.
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 from the pre-1968 "Golden Age" and one from 1968 or later); and a theatrical selection by Kurt Weill. After a preliminary round of auditions, twenty-four semi-finalists from five continents auditioned in New York for adjudicator/coaches Jeanine Tesori and Rebecca Luker, who then selected the twelve finalists.
The Lenya Competition celebrated its 15th Anniversary this year. Since its inception, the Kurt Weill Foundation has awarded more than $500,000 to exceptionally talented young singer-actors, many of whom are enjoying prominent careers in musical theater, opera, and sometimes both. In the past year alone, previous winners' credits include performances on Broadway (Kyle Barisich, Morgan James); in national and international tours (Richard Todd Adams, Maria Failla, Zachary James, Ariela Morgenstern); at regional theaters such as Baltimore Centerstage, Westport Country Playhouse, and Portland Center Stage (Erik Liberman), The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park (Cooper Grodin), and Classic Stage Company (Amy Justman); and on major opera stages including the Metropolitan Opera (Paul Corona, Ginger Costa-Jackson), Los Angeles Opera (Rodell Rosel, Liam Bonner), Lyric Opera of Chicago (Rodell Rosel, Lucas Meachem), Florida Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Oper Leipzig (Jonathan Michie), Houston Grand Opera (Liam Bonner), New York City Opera (Lauren Worsham, Jennifer Goode Cooper), Glimmerglass Festival (Noah Stewart, Ginger Costa-Jackson), English National Opera and Teatro Real Madrid (Zachary James), Hamburg Staatsoper and Festival d'Aix-en-Provence (Rebecca Jo Loeb), and Oper Frankfurt (Elizabeth Reiter).
For a press photo of the winners, please click here.
Caption: 2013 Lotte Lenya Competition winners (left to right): Ginger Costa-Jackson, Rachel Kara Cordeiro-Pérez, Alison Arnopp, Douglas Carpenter, Lauren Roesner, and Maren Weinberger. Photo: Kurt Weill Foundation for Music.
March 19, 2013: Twelve exceptionally talented young singer-actors, with previous stage experience ranging from roles on Broadway to the Metropolitan Opera House, have been named finalists in the 2013 Lotte Lenya Competition. They will compete for top prizes of $15,000, $10,000 and $7,500 on Saturday, April 13, 2013, at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Acclaimed soprano and 2010 Opera News Award winner Patricia Racette, British opera and musical theater conductor James Holmes, and Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization President and American Theater Wing Vice-Chairman Theodore S. Chapin will serve as judges.
Held annually by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music and celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the Lotte Lenya Competition is an international theater singing contest that recognizes talented young singer-actors, ages 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, and emphasizes the acting of songs and arias within a dramatic context.
Finalists were selected from a group of twenty-four semi-finalists from the United States, Argentina, Australia, China, Germany, and Ireland after auditions in New York on March 15-16, 2013. Contestants were required to prepare four selections: an aria from the opera or operetta repertoire; two songs from the American musical theater repertoire (one from the pre-1968 "Golden Age" and one from 1968 or later); and a theatrical selection by Kurt Weill. Broadway leading lady and Tony Award nominee Rebecca Luker and Tony Award nominee and Olivier Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori served as coach-adjudicators, evaluating and working with each of the semi-finalists.
The 2013 finalists are: Alison Arnopp, soprano (County Cork, Ireland); Daniel Berryman, tenor (New York); Douglas Carpenter, baritone (Woodbridge, Conn.); Ginger Costa-Jackson, mezzo-soprano (Sandy, Utah); Christian Ketter, tenor (Chicago); Mingjie Lei, tenor (Hengyang, China); Erin Mackey, soprano (Astoria, N.Y.); Rachel Kara Cordeiro-Pérez, soprano (Brooklyn, N.Y.); Heather Phillips, soprano (Philadelphia); Lauren Roesner, soprano (Cincinnati); Christy Sullivan, mezzo-soprano (Sydney, Australia); and Maren Weinberger, soprano (New York).
The finalists will perform their entire programs for the judges on April 13 between 11 am and 3 pm. At 8 pm, the competition will culminate in a concert featuring all of the finalists, followed by the announcement of the winners. Both the daytime finals and evening concert are free and open to the public, and will take place in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music, 26 Gibbs Street, Rochester, New York.
The Kurt Weill Foundation will award special prizes at the finals in addition to the top prizes, and has already presented Emerging Talent Awards to Cree Carrico, soprano (New York); Conor McDonald, baritone (Cincinnati); Sofia Selowsky, mezzo-soprano (Cincinnati); Brian Vu, baritone (New Haven, Conn.); Allan Washington, baritone (Winston-Salem, N.C.); and Katie Wesler, alto (Cincinnati). The Grace Keagy Award for Outstanding Vocal Promise went to Charles Z. Owen, bass-baritone, of Cincinnati.
Previous Lenya Competition winners are making their marks playing leading and featured roles in major theaters and opera houses around the globe. In the past year alone, their credits include performances on Broadway (Kyle Barisich, Morgan James), in national tours (Richard Todd Adams, Zachary James, Ariela Morgenstern), at Baltimore Centerstage, Westport Country Playhouse, and Portland Center Stage (Erik Liberman), The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park (Cooper Grodin), Classic Stage Company (Amy Justman), Metropolitan Opera (Paul Corona), New York City Opera (Lauren Worsham, Jennifer Goode Cooper), Los Angeles Opera (Rodell Rosel, Liam Bonner), Lyric Opera of Chicago (Rodell Rosel, Lucas Meachem), Florida Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Oper Leipzig (Jonathan Michie), Houston Grand Opera (Liam Bonner), Glimmerglass Festival (Noah Stewart), English National Opera and Teatro Real Madrid (Zachary James), Hamburg Staatsoper (Rebecca Jo Loeb), and Oper Frankfurt (Elizabeth Reiter).