2014 International Vocal Competition
Winners Biography
Click here for winners list
Top Prize
Benjamin Bliss, Tenor, was the winner of the Don Placido Domingo Zarzuela Prize at Operalia 2013. In the 2013/14 season, he joins the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Engagements for 2013 have included the role of Male Chorus in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia with the Colburn Orchestra under James Conlon, his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut.

First Prize
Ryan Speedo Green, Bass Baritone, a native of Suffolk, Virginia, is in his final year of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera. Praised by Anthony Tommasini for his "robust voice," the 2013-2014 season saw a return to the stage of the Met to sing the Bonze in Madama Butterfly and the Jailer in Tosca.

First Prize
Rebecca Pedersen, Soprano, only 21 and started singing just three years ago, but vocal performance student Rebecca Pedersen has already captured one of opera’s greatest prizes. Pedersen was recently named one of six winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and became the second youngest winner in the 60-year history of the prestigious event.

Second Prize
Alexey Lavrov, Baritone, appears this season, at the Metropolitan Opera as Count Dominik in Arabella, the Huntsman in Rusalka, and Yamadori in Madama Butterfly. Currently finishing his second year of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, he made his company debut last season as the Herald in Otello and the Flemish Deputy in Don Carlo.

Third Prize
Mario Chang, Tenor, from Guatemala City, Guatemala, in his third year of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera. Begins his first year in the Advanced Diploma in Opera Studies program at Juilliard School. In the 2013/14 season, he sang the Italian Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier at the MET. Singing in the MET Juilliard scenes program conducted by James Levine.

Third Prize
Courtney Johnson, Soprano, a 2013 studio artist at Wolf Trap Opera. Attends Mannes College of Music in New York. Received Encouragement Awards from the George London Foundation, Opera Index Competition 2012, and Second Place in the 2012 Giulio Gari IVC. New York debut in Verdi's I Lombardi singing the role of Sophia at Avery Fisher Hall with Opera Orchestra of NY, 2013.

Third Prize
Virginie Verrez, Mezzo Soprano, a native of France, studied in the United States at The Juilliard School. Recent roles, Lola in Cavalleria rusticana for Opera D'Avignon, Beatrice in Wolf-Ferrari's Le donne curiose, and Zenoia in Handel's Radamisto. Concert appearances in Paris, Munich, Vienna. Sang Vivaldi's Dixit Dominus in Limoges. Gave her debut at Carnegie Weill Hall premiering a work by composer George Oakley.

Fourth Prize
Shirin Eskandani, Mezzo Soprano, hailed by Opera Today for her "pleasing and pliant voice." Shirin an Iranian Canadian recently won first place at the Gerda Lissner Foundation IVC. This summer she will be a participant in the Merola Opera Program. Recently made role debuts as Angelina in La Cenerentola and the Mother in Hansel and Gretel.

Fifth Prize
Paul Han, Tenor, will be participating this summer in Martina Arroyo Foundation Prelude to Performance, singing the role of Alfredo in Verdi's La Traviata. Doctoral student in voice at Mason Gross School of the Arts, sang the role of Acis in Handel's Acis and Galatea this April production. A 2nd Prize winner of The Gerda Lissner Foundation IVC 2014.

Grant Winners
Susannah Biller, Soprano, praised by the San Francisco Chronicle as an "artist ready for the big time." Recently seen as Daisy in the San Francisco premiere of John Harbison's The Great Gatsby with Ensemble Parallele. In recent seasons was a member of the prestigious Adler Fellowship Program with San Francisco Opera. Sang Lolita in the world premiere of John Harbison's Heart of a Soldier.
Jared Bybee, Baritone, AVA first-year Resident. District Winner (Salt Lake City), Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, 2013. His roles at AVA include Germont, La Traviata; Prince Yeletsky, Pique Dame; Guglielmo, Così fan tutte. Other Roles: Le nozze di Figaro; Grog, La Grande-duchesse Gérolstein; Justice Wills and Colonel Isaacson world premiere of Oscar, Santa Fe Opera, 2013.
Dominick Chenes, Tenor, opens Austin Lyric Opera's 28th season by singing the role of Riccardo in Verdi's A Masked Ball. Originally from Las Vegas, NV, Chenes studies at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where his debut role was Riccardo in Un ballo in maschera. Chenes won second prize in The Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition 2013.
Kidon Choi, Baritone, a second-year Master's student at Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Marlena Malas. A recipient of the Joseph F. McCrindle Scholarship. He completed his B.M. in vocal performance at Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea. In April 2013, Mr. Choi made his Sejong Art Center debut with Seoul Metropolitan Opera as Amonasro from Aida by G. Verdi.
Yasmine Levi-Ellentuck, Soprano, a native of Israel recently made her European debut with the Deutsche Oper Berlin singing the role of the first lady in Mozart's Magic Flute. She has also debuted her first Verdi role, singing Leonora in Il Trovatore in Opera in Williamsburg production in Virginia. A 2013 second prize winner at The Gerda Lissner Foundation IVC.
Norman Garrett, Baritone, hails from Lubbock, Texas. Was seen in the 2013-2014 season at Washington National Opera as Der Stuermann in Tristan und Isolde, Captain Gardiner in Moby-Dick, and in the world premiere of Jeanine Tesori's The Lion, the Unicorn and Me. Currently a Domingo-Cafritz Artist at Washington National Opera, Norman also sang Papageno in Die Zauberflöte in spring 2014.
Marina Costa Jackson, Soprano, is a resident artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. During the 2013-2014 season she performed Liza in Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame. She also had concerts with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia. Previously, she sang Violetta with the Utah Lyric Opera, and the Lyric Opera Ensemble of the University of Utah.
Shelley Jackson, Soprano, is a second year resident artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where sang the title roles in Manon and La traviata in 2014. This past summer she sang Iza in The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, and covered Albina in La donna del lago at the Santa Fe Opera, and Norina in Don Pasquale.
Mingjie Lei, Tenor, born in Hengyang, China, first-year Professional Studies Certificate Candidate at The Curtis Institute of Music studying with Mikael Eliasen and Marlena Malas. Made his Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist in Handel's Messiah with the Cecilia Chorus and Orchestra of New York, covered the role of Tamino in the production Die Zauberflote at The Music Academy of the West.
Jamez McCorkle, Baritone, performed with the Curtis Opera Theatre, Music Academy of the West, I Sing Beijing, and the International Vocal Arts Institute. Worked with symphonies including New York City Opera Orchestra, the Chelsea Symphony, and the Gamac Orchestra. Was a 2013 Top Prize winner at the Sullivan Foundation, George London Foundation, voted "Audience Favorite" in the Chicago Lyric Opera Ryan Finals.
Courtney Mills, Soprano. After attending Indiana University, she continued her professional studies at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Program, Verbier Music Festival Young Artist Program and Cardiff International Academy of Voice. Her time at these venerable institutions introduced her to the influence of James Levine, Renata Scotto, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.
Jarrett Ott, Baritone, currently based out of Philadelphia graduated in May with his Master's degree at the Curtis Institute of Music under the tutelage of Marlena Kleinman Malas. He previously studied with baritone, Randall Scarlata. Has been featured in lead baritone roles for the Curtis Opera Theatre including Marquis de la Force in Poulenc's Dialogues des carmélites.
Heather Phillips, Soprano. The 2013/14 season included a return to Opera Southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico to portray Zerlina in Don Giovanni and in the spring, she will join the ranks of the prestigious apprentice artist program at The Santa Fe Opera covering Frasquita in Carmen as well as performing in the apprentice scenes showcase in August of 2014.
Ewa Plonka, Mezzo Soprano, a young singer blessed with a voice of power and range. She began her studies in her native Poland as a pianist, earning a Master's Degree in piano before coming to the U.S.A to earn her Ph.D. in piano. Appeared with New York Lyric Opera Theater as the Witch in Hansel and Gretel.
Ricardo Rivera, Baritone, MET Opera National Council Auditions Semi-Finalist has been extolled by critics for presenting "sensitive, beautiful, and emotionally powerful" portrayals with "unerring vocal control". This summer, returns to Santa Fe Opera as a second-year apprentice singer to perform Moralès and cover Escamillo in Carmen. 2013-2014 season, made his role debut as Marcello in La bohème with the El Paso Opera.
Alexandra Schenck, Mezzo Soprano, AVA second-year Resident Artist and native of Los Alamitos, California. Her roles at AVA Pauline/Governess/Milovzor, Pique Dame; Dorabella, Così fan tutte; Dulcinée, Don Quichotte; Larina, Eugene Onegin, other Roles include Sesto, La clemenza di Tito; Giulietta, Les Contes d’Hoffmann; Le Prince Charmant, Cendrillon; all with Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach.
Brian Vu, Baritone, spent the summer of 2013 as a Studio Artist with the Wolf Trap Opera Company. While at Yale Opera he performed Duke Robert in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. Yale Opera's 2013-2014 season included Brian as Marcello in Puccini's La bohème conducted by Giuseppe Grazioli with stage direction by Michael Gieleta and Dandini in Rossini's La Cenerentola directed by Ted Huffman.
Yohan Yi, Bass Baritone, 2008 participant in the Marilyn Horne Foundation's master class with Dawn Upshaw at Zankel Hall. Made his professional operatic debut at the 2008 Cincinnati May Festival where he performed as Alcade and Surgeon in Verdi's La Forza del Destino under the baton of James Conlon. Took part in a concert directed by Hakan Hagegard at IVAI's workshop in Montreal.