Colorado-Wyoming District Finals: Judges and Accompanist
Johanna Meier | American operatic soprano
Johanna Meier is an American operatic soprano. She has been described as "one of the foremost Wagnerian sopranos of her era". She had an international career, including fourteen years at the Metropolitan Opera and three summers singing the role of Isolde in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde for the Bayreuth Festival—the Festival's first American Isolde; in 2003, she received an honorary doctorate from Black Hills State University where she continues to be active.
Jonathan Pell | Former Artistic Director of The Dallas Opera
Jonathan Pell recently retired as Artistic Director of The Dallas Opera; he has an extensive background in both music and theatre. Mr. Pell came to The Dallas Opera in 1985 from WNET/Thirteen in New York, where he was Coordinating Producer for Music Programming and worked on such public television projects as The Life of Verdi series hosted by Burt Lancaster, and the historic telecast of the complete Chereau Ring from Bayreuth for Great Performances. He was also a member of the original team which produced the annual PBS Gala of Stars for five years, hosted by Beverly Sills.
Willie Anthony Waters | Conductor
Willie Anthony Waters is a regular guest of the opera companies in North America, Europe, and Africa. He served as General and Artistic Director of the Connecticut Opera for twelve years, conducting more than thirty productions. He also served as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Florida Grand Opera for seven seasons. During his tenure, he led a number of noteworthy productions, including Salome, Manon Lescaut, Die Walküre, Macbeth, Aida, Of Mice and Men, Falsfaff, Bianca e Falliero, Cristoforo Coolmbo, La Gioconda, Turandot, Tosca, Carmen, Trouble in Tahiti, and Lucia di Lammermoor. He recently returned to the company as a guest to conduct Carmen.
Robert Spillman | Accompanist
Robert Spillman, Professor Emeritus, was Chair of the piano faculty and Music Director of the Opera Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He studied at the Eastman School of Music, receiving a BM degree and Performers Certificate in piano and a MA degree in music theory. In 1964 he received a Fulbright Scholarship and moved with his family to Stuttgart, where he studied with Arno Erfurth (piano), Hermann Reutter (Lied), Hubert Giesen (accompanying) and Henk Badings (composition). Shortly thereafter, he moved to West Berlin where he spent the next seven years accompanying well-known artists. He returned to the United States and joined the faculty at Eastman in 1973, where he coached opera and taught piano, accompanying and vocal literature.
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
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.