For this year’s competition, each finalist presented a 15 minute program of four selections in the daytime round. An evening concert followed, in which contestants sang only a segment of their programs.
All finalists received a minimum cash award of $1,000, with additional discretionary awards of $3,500 each, and top prizes ranging from $7,500 to $15,000.
The panel of judges included international opera star Teresa Stratas, Rodgers & Hammerstein President Theodore S. Chapin and Broadway music director and conductor Andy Einhorn. Finalists were selected from an initial pool of 224 contestants later narrowed to 31 semi-finalists, who were adjudicated and coached in the semi-final round by Tony Award-winners Jeanine Tesori and Victoria Clark. Clark, who last judged the competition in 2012, noted:
“I can feel the leap in overall talent from the last time I judged.”
Now in its 19th year, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes exceptionally talented singers/actors, ages 19-32, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Since 1998, the Kurt Weill Foundation has awarded more than $750,000 in prize money and continues to support previous winners with professional development grants.
Previous Lenya Competition winners enjoy successful careers performing in major theaters and opera houses around the globe.
About the Kurt Weill Foundation
The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc. is dedicated to promoting understanding of the life and works of composer Kurt Weill (1900-50) and preserving the legacies of Weill and his wife, actress-singer Lotte Lenya (1898-1981). The 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. Learn more by visiting www.kwf.org.
CCM student Talya Lieberman.
About Talya Lieberman
Originally from Forest Hills, New York, soprano Talya Ilana Lieberman is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at CCM as a student of Professor William McGraw.
Recently described by Opera News as “poetically compelling,” “delectably stylish” and “technically refined,” Lieberman is equally at home with operatic, art song and musical theatre repertoire. Starting in September 2016 she will be seen frequently on stage at Komische Oper Berlin, where she will be assuming the soprano position in the Opernstudio. Her upcoming performances include debuts with Cincinnati Opera and Opera Columbus, as well as the title role in CCM’s Mainstage Series production of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen.
Lieberman returned to Cincinnati this fall after completing a summer as a Filene Young Artist with Wolf Trap Opera, where her ability to “make a point with the merest flick of a finger” (Washington Post) shined in a highly lauded run as Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She also appeared in concert with Steven Blier at Wolf Trap in a program celebrating the Broadway legacy of the Rodgers family (The Rodgers Family – A Century of Musicals).
Lieberman is a convert from the orchestra pit and started singing after receiving her master’s degree in trumpet performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts under the tutelage of Judith Saxton. She completed her BA at Duke University with highest distinction in linguistics (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude). She is a two-time winner of full tuition and stipend—winning the Russell-Seybold and Italo Tajo Awards, respectively—at CCM’s Opera Scholarship Competition.
About Reilly Nelson
Born in the coastal town of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Canada, Reilly Nelson attended the Eastman School of Music where she received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and CCM where she completed a Master of Music in Vocal Performance.
Nelson is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at CCM.
At CCM she performed Hansel in Hansel and Gretel and Mary in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star. She also performed Hansel, as well as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, at Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center.
The mezzo-soprano was a vocal fellow at the renowned Tanglewood Music Festival for the summers of 2014 and 2015, performing Les nuits d’été, Op. 7 and Folk Songs by Bernard Rands.
Story by Curt Whitacre