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Winners Named in New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera’s 28th Annual International Vocal Competition

February 2, 2017

Verismo Opera finalists winners reduced

First place winner Zhanna Alkhazova. Photo Credit: New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera

(Fort Lee, New Jersey; February 2, 2017) – The New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera announced the winners and the finalists selected in the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera’s 28th Annual International Vocal Competition.  Soprano Zhanna Alkhazova received first place and a $2,000 award.  Baritone SeokJong Baek was awarded second place and a $1,000 prize, and tenor Fanyong Du received third place and a $500 prize.  The finalists were: soprano Zhanna Alkhazova, baritone SeokJong Baek, soprano Megan Brunning, tenor Fangyong Du, soprano Magda Gartner, soprano Shana Grossman, mezzo-soprano Viktoriya Koreneva, soprano Nicole Levesque, soprano Yulan Piao, and bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum.

An illustrious panel of judges adjudicated the final round of the competition comprised of Met Opera luminaries Martina Arroyo and Nedda Casei, New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera’s Principal Conductor/Music Director Lucy Arner, and New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera’s Emeritus Music Director/Principal Conductor Anthony Morss.

The winners will be recognized and receive their awards and prizes at Verismo Opera’s new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s AIDA on April 23, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.  Verismo Opera, the house opera company of the Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), will perform the grand opera at the theatre, located at 30 North Van Brunt Street in Englewood, New Jersey.  Tickets are now on sale and may be purchased at, in person at the theatre’s box office in Englewood, and by calling (201) 227-1030 or toll-free at 1-888-PACSHOW. 

All finalists are given the opportunity to perform in Verismo Opera’s fully staged productions.  In the company’s upcoming performance of AIDA, Zhanna Alkhazova and Viktoriya Koreneva will cover the roles of Aida and Amneris, respectively.

Earlier this year, the finalists attended free master classes taught by Verismo Opera’s Artistic Director and Metropolitan Opera luminary Lucine Amara and Verismo Opera’s General Manager, Principal Stage Director, and teacher Evelyn La Quaif, culminating with finals conducted at Liederkranz Hall in New York City.  The applicants received critical feedback; extensive free coaching on language, style and presentation; and the prospect to perform in Verismo Opera’s fully staged upcoming productions.

Verismo Opera launched the competition with preliminary auditions held in November 2016 in New York City.  The annual international competition offers singers an opportunity to develop their careers, participate in master classes, receive essential feedback, and perform in a professional setting.  All applicants were provided the opportunity to attend a free master class.

About New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera

For 28 years, the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera has been an integral part of the region’s classical music culture.  Led by Metropolitan Opera luminary Lucine Amara, Verismo Opera delivers a rich, grand opera experience for performers and viewers.

As the Bergen Performing Arts Center’s house opera company, Verismo Opera provides performing opportunities for young musicians and artists through its semi-annual productions at the theatre and concerts held in community settings.  Community members are invited to get involved as supernumeraries and volunteers.

An annual international vocal competition is conducted in November with finals generally drawing artists throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.  Verismo Opera also organizes opera workshops, master classes and concerts and offers affordable, highly professional productions.

For more information, visit Verismo Opera’s web site,; follow the company on Facebook,, or Twitter @NJVerismoOpera; or call (201) 886-0561.

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