Irene Dalis Vocal Competition Announces 2022 Judges

By Francisco Salazar

Opera San José has announced the judges for the upcoming Irene Dalis Vocal Competition.

The competition, which was named for acclaimed mezzo-soprano Irene Dalis who founded Opera San José, will feature two-time Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, Houston Grand Opera General Director Khori Dastoor, Opera San José Music Director Joseph Marcheso, and Lyric Opera of Chicago’s newly appointed Chief Artistic Administration Officer Matthew Ozawa as the judges for the May 18 semi-finals.

The semi-finals will be livestreamed FREE and audiences will have the chance to vote on an “Audience Favorite” who will automatically proceed to the finals.

The finals, which will be held on May 21, will be judged by mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, San Francisco Opera’s Head of Music and Metropolitan Opera Assistant Conductor John Churchwell, celebrated opera star Solomon Howard, and Opera San José General Director Shawna Lucey.

In a statement Opera San José General Director Shawna Lucey said, “In keeping with Irene Dalis’s vision to incubate opera’s stars of tomorrow, I am proud to share that Opera San José has eliminated financial barriers for our participating contestants. We have removed the entry fee, supported the travel expenses for the competitors, and provided housing during the competition week. The future is bright for opera, and we are thrilled to support these emerging artists as they continue their journeys to leading roles on mainstages around the world. We are also mindful of the future of digital performance for opera, and are happy to provide these singers with an opportunity to adapt to working in this new medium, in addition to the chance to display their talent to leaders from opera companies around the world.”

The eleven semi-finalists for the 2022 Irene Dalis Vocal Competition include: mezzo-soprano Veena Akama-Makia (Little Rock, Arkansas); bass-baritone Ben Brady (Denver, Colorado); soprano Susanne Burgess (Atlanta, Georgia); baritone Andres Cascante (San José, Costa Rica); mezzo-soprano Shanley Horvitz (Voorhees, New Jersey); soprano Emily Michiko Jensen (San Diego, California); soprano Anastasia Malliaras (Los Angeles, California); baritone Samson McCrady (Tucson, Arizona); soprano Nina Mutalifu (Ürümqi, China); baritone Sejin Park (Seoul, Korea); and tenor Kyle van Schoonhoven (Lockport, New York).