National Audition Tour Begins for 2015 Gerdine Young Artist Program at Opera Theatre

Selected Singers Will Participate In First-Ever Showcase Concert

St. Louis, MO, September 10, 2014 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis began preliminary auditions yesterday at the National Opera Center in New York to choose the next class of Gerdine Young Artists(GYAs) from among over 900 applicants. This will be the 25th year that the company’s acclaimed nine-week program has nurtured the next generation of rising opera talent.

The first round of auditions kicked off in New York City, and will continue through the end of September with stops in Boston, Cleveland, Bloomington IN, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. This year’s GYAs will be highlighted in a new one-night-only Gerdine Young Artist Showcase Concert on June 23, 2015. This special 40th anniversary event will feature arias and ensembles from opera and musical theater, accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony on stage.

A proven career launching pad for major artists, OTSL’s Gerdine Young Artist Program has led to many exceptional careers in opera, including that of Jamie Barton, 2013 winner of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World international competition; Alek Schrader, winner of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions; and Corinne Winters, who had a triumphant run as Violetta in the English National Opera’s production of La traviata and returns as Magda in OTSL’s 2015 production of La rondine.

One of the nation’s most competitive programs for young performers, the GYA program accepts between 3% and 4% of all applicants each year. In 2013, 36 artists were chosen from 1054 applicants, the highest number ever to apply in the history of the program. Of this year’s applications, 32 singers will be chosen and cast for supporting roles for all four productions in the upcoming season. Singers who pass a preliminary round will be invited back for final auditions before casting is completed.

GYAs sing supporting and featured roles in the season’s four productions, participate in master classes led by artistic director James Robinson and music director Stephen Lord, among others, and cover principal roles in each opera. Many also perform in special concerts and recitals, including two popular OTSL series, Spotlight on Opera and A Little Lunch Music.

While identifying America’s next generation of great opera singers is a lengthy process, the OTSL team sets an extremely high standard, an essential part of Opera Theatre’s commitment to presenting the top young vocal talent in America.  “We are looking for the finest emerging singers in the United States,” saysPaul Kilmer, Opera Theatre’s Director of Artistic Administration. “The thing you want to hear first is pure vocalism,” a sound that includes clear crisp articulation, intriguing personality, and a nuanced and beautiful tone.

OTSL’s success in building a company of young artists each year is recognized time and again by national press, including The Washington Post, which wrote earlier this year that the program “….has become notably strong in a field crowded with young-artist programs.”

Final casting of the 2015 Gerdine Young Artists will be announced later this year.  St. Louis’s first chance to hear the 2015 singers perform will be at Spotlight on Opera on Monday, May 4, 2015. The 2015 Festival Season runs from May 23 through June 28, and features Puccini’s La rondine, Handel’s Richard the Lionheart, Tobias Picker’s Emmeline, and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, conducted by St. Louis nativeRyan McAdams.  Subscriptions for the 2015 Festival Season are now available, with single tickets going on sale in February, 2015. For more information, visit ExperienceOpera.org or call the box office at (314) 961-0644.

About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American opera companies, known for a spring festival of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony.  As of 2014, Opera Theatre has presented 24 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which may be one of the highest percentages of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by The Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis annually welcomes visitors from nearly every state and close to a dozen foreign countries. Although the size of the theater typically limits box office income to less than a quarter of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.

Opera Theatre also has a long tradition of discovering and promoting the careers of the finest operatic artists of the current generation.  Among the artists who had important early opportunities at Opera Theatre are Christine Brewer, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Patricia Racette, Thomas Hampson, Jerry Hadley, Dawn Upshaw, Sylvia McNair, Erie Mills, Dwayne Croft, Kelly Kaduce, Lawrence Brownlee, Jamie Barton, Corinne Winters, Anthony Dean Griffey, and Christine Goerke.  Opera Theatre has always been known for distinguished leadership: founding general director Richard Gaddes was succeeded in 1985 by general director Charles MacKay, with famed British stage director Colin Graham as artistic director and Stephen Lord (1992 – present) as music director.  Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008 with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding Colin Graham.  For more information, visit ExperienceOpera.org.

Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 2014 season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors.

Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts and Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.