Arts & Entertainment

Violetta DuPont 26th Vocal Competition April 27

MADISON, NJ - Opera at Florham (OAF) presents its 26th annual Vocal Competition established by Violetta DuPont to benefit singers, 21 to 35 years of age, who are pursuing a career in opera. The competition will be held at the Florham Campus at Fairleigh Dickinson University on Sunday April 27, 2014 at 3 p.m. in Lenfell Hall, Hennessy Hall.

The preliminary judging consisted of 50 candidates on April 8 and 9 in New York City at the Kosciuszko Foundation Concert Hall. There will be ten finalists performing at the Vocal Competition. Mezzo-Soprano Rachel Arky, Bass-Baritone Brad Baron, Tenor David Blalock, Baritone’s Christian Bowers and Luke Scott, and Sopranos Ashley Crling, Ashley Kerr, Mia Pafumi, Monica A. Pasquini and Heather Phillips. 

The accompanists included David Maiullo and Mary Pinto. For the Competition in late April, the accompanist will be Arlene Shrut. The judges for the first round were Stephen DeMaio, Ken Benson, Barbara Testa and Eve Quelar. The judges for the competition on April 27 will include Ken Benson, Teresa Apolei, Barbara Ann Testa, Pamela Gilmore and Stephen DeMaio. 

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Ken Benson is one of today's leading managers of opera singers, including 25 years as a Vice-President of Columbia Artists Management. He's a vocal consultant at the Juilliard School of Music and he regularly gives classes at Mannes, Yale, Manhattan School of Music, Boston Conservatory, UCLA and many other conservatories and young artists programs


Teresa Apolei a world-renowned soprano who is famous for her dramatic passionate voice. Bellinis Norma was one of her greatest roles, she also sang to great acclaim Aida with Richard Tucker and the Philadelphia Opera. She now resides in New Jersey and is often a judge for international vocal competitions.


Barbara Ann Testa is a famous soprano who had a wonderful career in Italy, she studied with the great tenor Giovanni Martinelli and Licia Albanese. She is also an accomplished pianist, a trustee of the The Gerda Lissner Foundation and The Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation.  


Stephen De Maio, elected President of the Gerda Lissner Foundation, was cited by Opera News as one of the most prestigious foundations fostering the careers of young artists with very generous financial awards. He serves as Administrative and Artistic Director of the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, Artistic Adviser of The Giulio Gari Foundation, Loren L. Zachary Society for The Performing Arts, Opera At Florham NJ, Assistant to Director Musician Emergency Fund. He is on the Advisory Boards of the Martina Arroyo Foundation, Opera Index, American Center For Musical Arts.


Prizes will be awarded to the three winners: first prize of $5,000 donated by Gerda Lissner Foundation ; second prize of $3,000 donated by Joseph DuPont, and third prize of $1,500 donated by the DuPont Family.  Encouragement Awards of $200, donated by OAF members, will be given to the other finalists.

The Opera at Florham’s Vocal Competition was established in 1987 to honor Violetta Pollara DuPont, a founding member of the Opera at Florham, for her vision and her tireless work on behalf of OAF. In sponsoring the Competition, OAF acts in concert with its mission: to provide young artists on the threshold of promising careers with the opportunities to gain role and stage experiences and to advance those careers through a variety of programs. DuPont passed away in 2012 at the age of 100.

The tickets are $25 for the competition at 3 p.m., and $75 for the combo ticket which includes admission to the competition as well as lunch in Hartman Lounge with private musical interlude from a previous winner.  Fancy desserts will be served at intermission.  Tickets can be ordered by calling 973-443-8620 or online.  Checks can be mailed to Opera at Florham, P. O. Box 343, Convent Station, NJ 07961.

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