New York City Opera Announces Duncan Williams Voice Competition Winners

By Francisco Salazar

New York City Opera has announced the winners of the 2023 Duncan Williams Voice Competition.

The competition, which was hosted by J’Nai Bridges, spotlighted Black and Latinx singers and awarded over $50,000 in prize money. The competition, which was held at the Manhattan School of Music, saw 11 winners in four categories.

In the Emerging Artists category, $8,000 were awarded to Cierra Byrd, Daniel Rich, and César Andrés Parreño, while in the Developing Artists category, $5,000 went to Elizabeth Hanje, Benjamin Ruiz, and Jazmine Saunders.

The Encouragement Award saw $3,500 awarded to Joseph Parrish. Meanwhile, the Black and Latinx Song Presentation category was awarded to Daniel Espinal, Kresley Figueroa, Lwazi Hlati, and Ardeen Pierre.

The Duncan Williams Voice Competition is named for baritone Todd Duncan and soprano Camilla Williams, the first African American singers to sing with a major United States opera company when they made their debuts with New York City Opera in 1945 and 1946, respectively.

This year’s judges included opera star Denyce Graves, National Sawdust Managing Director Ana de Archuleta, General Director and CEO of the Florentine Maggey Oplinger, New York City Opera General Director Michael Capasso, and composer, instrumentalist, and arts educator Damien Sneed.