The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music announced the 11 exceptional singing actors who have advanced to the final round of the 24th annual Lotte Lenya Competition, the internationally renowned theatrical singing contest. 6 out of 11 of the finalists are BIPOC artists. The finals are set to take place before a live audience in New York City’s Merkin Hall on Friday, May 6, 2022. Tickets are free and available to the public, who may come and go as they please for an afternoon of performances that begins at 1:00pm. Each finalist will perform a continuous fifteen-minute program of four contrasting numbers, including one by Kurt Weill. A short concert featuring notable past Competition winners at 5:00pm will lead into an award ceremony immediately following.
Kim Kowalke, President of the Kurt Weill Foundation and Founder of the Competition, remarks:
“I think that this year’s group of eleven finalists is the most diverse and competitive in the 24-year history of the competition. I expect the final round to be hard-fought. Our all-star panel of judges will have tough decisions to make.”
The three-person jury for the final round always includes luminaries from the worlds of theater and opera. This year, the panel comprises:
Phillip Boykin is a Tony- and Grammy-award nominated artist, having received a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Crown in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and a Grammy nomination as a member of the cast of the musical Once On This Island. He is currently appearing in the role of Olin Britt in The Music Man on Broadway.
Robin Guarino is a theater, opera, and film director with more than 90 original productions to her credit. Her work has been presented by opera companies, festivals, theaters, and symphony orchestras, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and BAM Next Wave Festival, among many others. Her film Crossing the Atlantik was broadcast on Independent Focus POV. She holds the Corbett Chair of Opera at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati.
Jeanine Tesori is an award-winning composer of musical theatre and opera. She has written four Tony-nominated scores for Broadway and is one of the first female composers commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. The revival of her Caroline, or Change on Broadway this season earned rave reviews, as did her show Kimberly Akimbo, which will move to Broadway next season. Her opera Blue was awarded the Music Critics Association of North America 2020 Award for Best New Opera.
The 2022 Competition drew 259 applicants from thirty-nine US states and twenty-one countries. In the semifinal round, 28 contestants auditioned either in-person or remotely and received immediate feedback and coaching. Tony Award winner Victoria Clark and Drama Desk Award winner Lauren Worsham served as coach-judges for the semifinal round.
Remarking on her experience, Victoria Clark exclaims: “Coaching this year was a joy for me! Each semifinalist brought imagination, skill, and tremendous heart to their program. As is always the case, they taught me more than I could ever teach them!” Lauren Worsham agrees: “The contestants were all sensational and showed a depth of understanding the material.”
The finalist performers, ranging in age from 21 to 32, are as follows:
Ruth Acheampong (Toronto, Ontario) - BIPOC Eric Botto (Boulder, Colorado) Cierra Byrd (Akron, Ohio) - BIPOC Katrina Galka (Portland, Oregon) Francesca Mehrotra (Boston, Massachusetts) - BIPOC Lauren Senden (North Mankato, Minnesota) Amanda Sheriff (Smyrna, Delaware) - BIPOC Tristan Tournaud (Antioch, Tennessee) Jeremy Weiss (Charlottesville, Virginia) Ronald Wilbur (Lexington, Kentucky) - BIPOC Ian Williams (Fort Wayne, Indiana) - BIPOC
More than a vocal competition, the Lotte Lenya Competition recognizes talented young singer/actors who are dramatically and musically convincing in repertoire ranging from opera/operetta to contemporary Broadway scores, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. Since its inception in 1998, the Lotte Lenya Competition has grown into an internationally recognized leader in identifying and nurturing the next generation of “total-package talents” (Opera News) and rising stars in both the opera and musical theater worlds. In awarding more than $1.1 million in prize money since the Competition’s inception, the Kurt Weill Foundation has celebrated the talent and supported the careers of hundreds of singing actors worldwide.