Utah District Finals: Judges and Accompanist

Gayletha Nichols | Director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions

Ms. Nichols joined the artistic staff of the Metropolitan Opera in the fall of 2000 as Executive Director of the National Council Auditions. She brought to the Met two decades of experience as a singer, teacher and career advisor. From 1992-2000, she was Director of Houston Opera Studio, the young artist development program at Houston Grand Opera, where she created and individualized the training both for singers and pianists. Ms. Nichols auditions hundreds of singers across North America every year and in her travels addresses many universities, conservatories, and festivals on developing the next generation of opera singers. She is a frequent adjudicator in national and international competitions and consults for other young artist programs across the country.

Laurent Philipp | Conductor

Laurent Philippe’s keen interest in opera has led him to associate with many Metropolitan Opera Artists and he has worked as a coach for many opera companies and institutions including The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, L'Atelier de L'Opéra de Montréal, The Canadian Opera Company, Michigan Opera Theatre, Florentine Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera San José, Seattle Opera and AVA. His conducting credits include assisting Sir Andrew Davis at the BBC Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican Centre and Royal Albert Hall as well as performances at the helm of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Victoria Symphony. He is currently on the Faculty of the ENO Harewood Artists in London, United Kingdom and the IOS Opernhaus Zürich in Switzerland.

Eric Mitchko | General Director of North Carolina Opera

Eric Mitchko, an alumnus of both Princeton University and Columbia University, became General Director of North Carolina Opera in 2010. He previously worked as Director of Artistic Administration for The Atlanta Opera and artist manager at Herbert Barrett Management and as a vice president at Columbia Artists Management.

Dr. Carol Anderson | Principal Coach & Accompanist at Utah Opera

Carol Anderson is currently principal coach for the Utah Symphony and Opera, while spending her summers on the music staff of the Santa Fe Opera. Dr. Anderson has also worked on the coaching staffs of Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, Sarasota Opera, Brevard Music Center, Nashville Opera, Baltimore Opera Company, Opera Festival of New Jersey, and Rice University's Shepherd School Opera.


Nevada District Finals: Judges and Accompanist

Mark Morash | Director of musical studies for San Francisco Opera Center

Mark Morash is a conductor and pianist originally from Dartmouth Nova Scotia, Canada. He currently serves as the director of musical studies for San Francisco Opera Center. He has also led productions and concerts with the Merola Opera Program and Western Opera Theater. In recent years, Morash has also led performances of Rigoletto with Opera Colorado as well as Don Giovanni and The Turn of the Screw for the Lincoln Theater in Yountville, California. His work with the San Francisco Opera Center has included such varied repertoire as Così fan tutte, Die Fledermaus, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Donizetti’s Rita , Pasatieri’s The Seagull , Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona and Ibert’s Angélique . As a collaborative pianist, Morash’s performances have taken him throughout North America, Japan and Russia. Morash has also been involved with the Opera Center of Pittsburgh Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, the Banff Centre, and Hawaii Opera Theater and is a former faculty member of the University of Toronto. Mark can play that really cool piano riff from Billy Joel's song 'Scenes From an Italian Restaurant’.

Christopher Hahn | Artistic Director of Pittsburgh Opera

Christopher Hahn was appointed General Director of Pittsburgh Opera in 2008, having served as Artistic Director since 2000. Since then he has significantly enriched the company’s repertoire, introducing Baroque and contemporary operas presented in a variety of production styles. Trained in his native South Africa, Mr. Hahn began his career in opera in 1983 at San Francisco Opera as Rehearsal Administrator. He then managed the San Francisco Opera Center, including the world-renowned Merola Opera Program, the country’s leading training program for American singers. Following his 13-year tenure in San Francisco, he served as Artistic Administrator at Los Angeles Opera with Plácido Domingo and Peter Hemmings. Mr. Hahn’s expertise in recognizing young vocal talent has made him a sought-after juror at American and international vocal competitions, including the Bernstein Competition (Jerusalem), Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition, the Francisco Viñas Competition (Barcelona), the McAllister Awards and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Danielle Orlando | Vocal coach and artistic consultant

Danielle Orlando joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1986 and is an accompanist to many international opera singers, a vocal coach, and an artistic consultant to many prestigious musical organizations. She was accompanist, judge, and artistic coordinator for all of the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competitions. She worked with Gian Carlo Menotti and the Festival Dei Due Mondi as artistic coordinator and coach for nine seasons. She was the artistic administrator and head of music staff for the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Ms. Orlando is a guest judge for the annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and works with the Junges Ensemble of the Dresden Semperoper in Germany. She has performed with the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland, and will be returning as a master coach for Oberlin in Italy this year. Ms. Orlando has a residency as returning opera coach for the Palm Beach Opera's Young Artist Program and the WNO Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program of the Washington National Opera. She is also a master coach for the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.

Christina Wright-Ivanova | Pianist, Vocal Coach

Hailed by critics as “a brilliant collaborative pianist” (Wiener Zeitung, Vienna) and “an ideal partner" (Huffington Post), Christina Wright-Ivanova is a pianist, vocal coach, and chamber musician who looks forward to joining the faculty as Assistant Professor of Music, Vocal Coach/Collaborative Artist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas this year. She was a faculty member and vocal coach at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) in the summer of 2015. She was previously on faculty at the American Institute for Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and the Franco-American Vocal Academy (FAVA) in Salzburg.


NewMexico District Finals: Judges and Accompanist

Greg Carpenter | General Director in Opera Colorado

The fourth General Director in Opera Colorado’s 32-year history, Greg Carpenter guides both the artistic and administrative operations of the company. His role as General Director began in 2007, prior to which he served as Opera Colorado’s Director of Development from 2004 – 2007, overseeing all fundraising and Board of Directors activities. Prior to joining Opera Colorado, he worked for four years for the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. His work there included Special Projects Manager for the President of the National Symphony Orchestra from 2000 – 2001 and Manager of Development from 2001 – 2004. Carpenter’s extensive experience working in the arts also includes two years as the Arts and Event Services Manager for the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland and Special Projects Coordinator for the University of Maryland School of Music. From 1986 – 1998, Greg Carpenter performed as a professional opera singer. His work as an opera singer included both lead and supporting roles at Glimmerglass Opera, Central City Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, Cleveland Opera and Lyric Opera Cleveland. Carpenter currently serves on the Board of Directors for OPERA America, the national service organization for the opera industry.

Melissa Wegner | Associate Director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions

Melissa Wegner is the Associate Director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She hears hundreds of young singers in audition every year and is passionate about assisting them with their career development. She is also the Artistic Coordinator of Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute Program for Singers. As a soprano, she has performed opera, concerts and recitals in the United States and Europe. Ms. Wegner has been a guest at conservatories, universities and summer festivals speaking on the topics of auditioning, finance, and careers in the arts. Ms. Wegner joined New York City Opera as a Supertitles Associate and continues this work on a freelance basis with companies including BAM, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Opera Orchestra of New York. Ms. Wegner holds degrees from Bard College, The Manhattan School of Music and The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.

Erie Mills | Associate Professor at the School of Music, San Jose State University

In a vocal career of over twenty-five years, Erie Mills has received critical and popular acclaim throughout the world, dazzling audiences with her sparkling coloratura voice, captivating personality, and vivid portrayals of operatic roles. She has performed in the world's major opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Vienna Staatsoper, English National Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera and many others. In concert, she has appeared with the orchestras of Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cleveland, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the VARA radio Orchestra at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. An accomplished recitalist, she has performed both as a soloist and in chamber music, having sung with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Bravo Colorado Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, and at St. John's Smith Square in London.

Kristin Ditlow | American pianist and coach

American pianist and coach Kristin Ditlow has appeared as a soloist, collaborative artist, coach, and conductor throughout the United States, Europe and China. Recent concert seasons have featured appearances at San Francisco Opera, Tanglewood Music Center, the Kimmel Center, Carnegie Hall, Hungary’s Zempleni Festival, the Beijing and Shanghai Conservatories, the National Theater in Kunming (Yunnan Province, China) and venues throughout central and northern Italy.The 2015-2016 season includes her continued position as Faculty Vocal Coach at the University of New Mexico. 2016 marks several New Mexico debuts for Dr. Ditlow: cover conductor debut with Opera Southwest in the Spring of 2016, in Rossini's Il turco in Italia, soloist with the New Mexico Performing Arts Society, and as a conductor with the New Mexico Philharmonic. This season also marks her first season at the Music Director of the UNM Chamber Singers, UNM's top auditioned and endowed choral ensemble.


Colorado-Wyoming District Finals: Judges and Accompanist

Brent McMunn | Conductor/Music director of USC Thornton Opera

Brent McMunn is conductor/music director of USC Thornton Opera and assistant professor of vocal arts. His professional operatic conducting debut was with the New York City Opera National Touring Company in La fille du regiment. Shortly after, he made his Lincoln Center debut with the New York City Opera in Les contes dÂ’Hoffmann, and subsequently conducted in four separate seasons for that company. After his New York conducting success, he went on to guest conduct at a number of North American companies, such as Arizona Opera, Calgary Opera, Lake George Opera, Kentucky Opera, Opera New Jersey and Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, and spent several years as co-artistic director of the Ridgefield Opera Company in Connecticut. In addition to his conducting, his work as assistant and cover conductor at LA Opera, New York City Opera, and six seasons at the Santa Fe Opera, has given him a repertoire of over 70 operas, including those by Handel, Mozart, Puccini, the major Strauss operas, and a number of new works and premieres, with a special emphasis on the Bel Canto repertoire. He has continuously enjoyed working with young singers in the young artist programs of the major companies, as a coach at the Juilliard School, and as a faculty member of the Aspen Music Festival.

Judith Forst | Canadian Coloratura Mezzo-Soprano

A participant 1966-8 in the Vancouver OperaAssociation training program, Judith Forst won the 1967 western finals of the San Francisco Opera auditions and the 1968 CBC Talent Festival. A 1968 audition for the Metropolitan Opera led to a contract and her debut there that same year. Forst lived 1968-75 in New York, where she continued her studies with Hans Joachim Heinz while performing as a regular member of the Metropolitan Opera. In 1975 she returned to Vancouver, a city which has remained her home. Forst has been called "one of the few truly world class coloratura mezzo-sopranos on the operatic stage," with a voice that is "bright, sensuous, seamless through its range, full of secure, shining high notes" (COC Magazine Apr 1988). She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Order of British Columbia. She has sung many roles, and in 2004 she appeared in the Pittsburgh Opera production of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking. In 2006 Forst made important debuts at La Scala, in Kát'a Kabanová, and with the Chicago Lyric Opera, in Strauss's Salome. Despite her thriving international career, Forst continued to support Canadian opera, performing as Klytemnestra in the 2003 Vancouver premiere of Elektra, a role which she had sung in concert with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 2001; and appearing as Lady Sybil in the world premiere of Lloyd Burritt's The Dream Healer in 2008. She has also been a frequent guest instructor at the University of British Columbia.

Gianna Rolandi | American Soprano

Gianna Rolandi is an American soprano. Following a highly successful 20-year national and international operatic career, Rolandi retired from performing in 1994, and served as director of and principal instructor at the Lyric Opera of Chicago's Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, formerly known as Lyric Opera Center for American Artists until 2013. Appearing regularly with the City Opera since her debut, Rolandi moved beyond soubrette roles in operettas, and was a leading coloratura soprano at the NYCO for the next 15 years, singing more than 30 operatic roles, including I puritani, La traviata, La fille du régiment, Rigoletto, Lucia di Lammermoor, The Cunning Little Vixen, Lakmé, and Giulio Cesare.In 1979, Rolandi made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier. At the Met she also sang Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann in 1983, the title role of Stravinsky’s Le Rossignolin 1984 (broadcast internationally), and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos in 1984/85 (broadcast internationally). At the Lyric Opera of Chicago she made her debut as Dorinda in Handel's Orlando (1986), and returned to sing Despina in Così fan tutte (1993–94), a production that marked her retirement from the stage.

Allan Armstrong | Accompanist

Allan Armstrong is a highly sought-after collaborative pianist specializing in both instrumental and vocal repertoire. In 2009, Allan was an artist-in-residence at the Arrigo Pedrolla conservatory in Vicenza, Italy where he performed solo, chamber, and lieder recitals. Other recent credits include concert tours of Japan and the premiere performance and recording of the newly revised opera Bluebeard's Castle by Bela Bartok, prepared under the auspices of the composer's son, Peter Bartok. He has shared the stage with renowned opera singers Sherrill Milnes, Mignon Dunn, and the late Jerry Hadley in masterclasses and recitals. In the fall of 2011, Allan appeared with Opera Colorado's production of Sideshow as a pianist/music director.


Rocky Mountain Regional Finals: Metropolitan Opera Judge

Joshua Winograde | Senior Director, Artistic Planning at the LA Opera

Josh blazed quite a trail to become Director LAO’s Artistic Planning and a principal architect of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program (YAP). A former opera singer with undergraduate and graduate degrees from The Juilliard School in New York, Josh is an alumnus of Houston Grand Opera’s young artist program. While getting his opera-singing career off the ground, he developed a skill for the management side of the opera world. Opportunities to stretch these managerial muscles arose at Juilliard as well as at Wolf Trap, where he founded its young artist opera studio. In 2008, Josh’s career came full circle when he returned to LAO and was instrumental in the birth and evolution of the LAO Young Artist Program. Josh is constantly searching for new singers to add to its already illustrious roster of talented artists. Part of that job requires Josh to attend or act as judge at numerous opera competitions around the world. He recently adjudicated vocal competitions in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Azerbaijan.