Opera guild names winners in contest

$35,500 in cash awards distributed among singers


In years past, there was a Denver Lyric Opera Company and a group of supporters formed the Denver Lyric Opera Guild in 1965 to support singers ages 23-32 as they began their operatic careers. When that company folded, the guild members determined that they would continue their aid to young singers.

In 1984, the Guild began its signature program: Competition for Colorado Singers, with generous grants to winners so they can further their careers through education and performance.

This spring, 30 competitors were selected to sing arias for professional judges, and cash awards totaling $35,500 were given.

Usually the supportive DLOG members meet at various country clubs in the metro area, fall through spring, for “Opera on Tuesday,” luncheons plus performances by young singers with Central City Opera, Opera Colorado and graduate students in area universities. (New members are welcome. See DLOG website at denverlyricoperaguild.org.)

Announcement of competition winners is made and celebrated in April.

With COVID restrictions, the luncheon meetings were not possible, but generous opera supporters donated funds and held the competition anyhow. The organization announced winners recently.

Videos of the Finals performances are available on the DLOG YouTube channel, which can be reached through the website listed above. Music lovers can enjoy an afternoon or evening of opera, despite COVID.

Dr. Jeremy Reger, of the University of Colorado’s College of Music was accompanist, as he has been for a number of years.

Soprano Anna Montgomery, 27, was first-place winner of the $6,000 Galen and Ada Belle Spencer Award. With a master’s in voice performance from Michigan State University, she also has received an Encouragement Award at the 2021 Rocky Mountain Region Auditions held by the Metropolitan Opera National Council and several other recent prizes. (See photo in the April 1 issue).

Second place, the $5,000 Kenneth King Foundation Award, went to baritone Steven Groth, 31. He received a master of music and in collaborative piano from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a doctor of musical arts in voice performance and pedagogy from the University of Colorado-Boulder. He hopes to join the faculty at SUNY Potsdam in the fall, where he is now reaching remotely.

Baritone Schyler Vargas, 27, who won the $4,500 third place Myrle F. Hoffman Memorial Award, received his bachelor of music from the University of Colorado-Boulder and his master of music from Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He was also a winner of the 2020 Metropolitan Opera Colorado/Wyoming District Auditions.

Additional awards: fourth place, Laura Bumgarner, soprano, 24: $4,000 Galen and Ada Belle Spencer Foundation Award; fifth place: Gabrielle Razafinjatovo, 26, mezzo, $3,500 Gary and Gayle Landis in honor of Marlis Smith Award; sixth place, $3,000 Carole Johnson in Memory of Mary Wise Award: Isaiah Feken, baritone; seventh place, bass Oliver Poveda, 27, received the $2,500 Sherry Sheperd Sargent Memorial Award; eighth place, Courtney Caston, 25, soprano, received the Dr. Frank Sargent Family Award, $2000; Mezzo Helen Hass, 28, received the $1,000 Lisa Curtis in Honor of Anne Kotch Award; and the $1,000 Certificate of Merit Julie Johnson and Donors in Memory of Harry Williams Award went to mezzo Kelly Riordan. Honorable mentions of $500 from DLOG members and Dr. Frank Sargent were given to mezzo Emily Anderson, tenor Paul Wolf, soprano Christiana Maldonado, tenor Miguel Angel Ortega and soprano Angela Lamar.

(An additional bit of opera news: Central City Opera will hold its summer performance season at Hudson Gardens in Littleton. Watch for more information.)


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