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News Releases

January 6, 1997


Presented biennially by the Rosa Ponselle Charitable Foundation, Inc., the 9th presentment of the Rosa Ponselle INTERNATIONAL Competition for the Vocal Arts will be held at Lincoln Center Plaza's Alice Tully Hall from November 2 to l0, l997. The Competition is not open to the public.

The Centenary year Competition will offer cash prize awards of $20,000, $l5,000 and $l0,000 to each of the three Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist Laureates; stipends to each of three Finalists of $3,000; $2,000 to each of the six Semi-Finalists and $l,000 to each of twelve Quarter-Finalists. The Competition will accept young ladies between ages l7 to 2l and young gentlemen between l8 to 24 years. The application deadline date for all submissions is June 30, l997.

Legendary American diva, Rosa Ponselle, considered by many to be the greatest dramatic soprano of our century, made an historic Metropolitan Opera debut in its premiere performance of Verdi's La Forza del Destino on November l5, l9l8. Without the benefit of any previous vocal training or operatic experience, and while performing with her sister at the Palace Theater in a vaudevillian act, she stepped out onto the stage in her debut at age 2l opposite Enrico Caruso, Giuseppe De Luca and Jos‚ Mardones. Her voice was immediately praised by the music critics as a vocal gold mine, and she was catapulted overnight into celebrity becoming the reigning queen of the Met for the entire l9 seasons of her operatic career. As she continued to refine her art over the years, her brilliant musical artistry and phrasing along with a flawless vocal technique, projected her as an exemplary role model for subsequent generations of acclaimed sopranos who include Maria Callas, Montserrat Caballe, Marilyn Horne, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and Leontyne Price. Maria Callas, in describing the influence Ponselle inspired in her during her own developmental years stated, "I think we ALL know that Ponselle is simply the greatest singer of us ALL".

As Rosa Ponselle and many of her contemporaries were launched in their professional careers by their early to mid-twenties; she believed that the competition format should only be utilized by young developing singers in need of cash prize awards to fund their vocal training programs. Recognizing the need of the talented young vocal artist to be trained intensively and Competently while still in the most optimal developmental years, Ponselle believed that if adequately trained, talented young potentials could step into professional careers in the early twenties as so many of our former operatic greats have done. She did not think the competition format should replace initiating a professional career once the singer had a secure vocal technique under her belt and established enough repertoire to be ready to step out and perform.

In keeping with Ponselle's philosophy, the 9th Biennial Rosa Ponselle INTERNATIONAL Competition for the Vocal Arts will offer its Competition to young potentials who will be awarded cash prizes upon displaying that their current vocal training has been diligent and consistent with their natural vocal abilities and intelligence; and who are goal oriented and capable of entering professional careers at an early age. Although the Competition is closed to the public, the Laureates will be showcased in con- cert presentations in New York City, Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. in l998.

The jury for the 9th Biennial Rosa Ponselle INTERNATIONAL Competition for the Vocal Arts consists of celebrated operatic greats, Mesdames Regine Crespin, Blanche Thebom, Irina Arkhipova, Fedora Barbieri and Maestro William Warfield, along with general directors of American opera companies who serve on the Board of Opera America. They are Robert Bailey of the Portland Opera, Janice Mancini Del Sesto of the Boston Lyric Opera, and Pelham Pearce of the Central City Opera. Also serving on the jury is The Rosa Ponselle Foundation's Administrative Director of Competitions, Educational and Opera Training Programs, Miss Elayne Duke and Vice-President of the Board of Trustees and Music Director of The Rosa Ponselle Foundation, Maestro Igor Chichagov, who will preside over the jury.

The Competition which will open on November 2, l997 with an afternoon of registration and orientation will feature an illustrated slide lecture with recordings on Ponselle's life and career to be presented by Miss Elayne Duke. The four rounds of the Competition between November 3 to l0, l997 will include live stage Preliminaries, Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Finals. Evaluations to contestants are provided as an integral part of the Competition. As only live theater auditions will be allowed, taped submissions for prescreening purposes will not be accepted.

Young vocal aspirants wishing to apply for candidacy to the 9th Biennial Rosa Ponselle INTERNATIONAL Competition for the Vocal Arts should write for brochures and applications to:

The Secretariat
The Rosa Ponselle Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Stevenson, Maryland 2ll53-9999
Fax: (l-4l0) 486-0495


After February 28, l997 Website:

Telephone inquiries may be directed to the Competition's Administrative Director, Miss Elayne Duke, by calling the Baltimore offices of The Rosa Ponselle Foundation, Monday to Sunday, from l0:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. at (l-4l0) 486-46l6.

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Updated: 5/1/97
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