2018 Tri-State College Vocal Competition

The Guild held its 30th Annual Tri-State College Vocal Competition on Sunday, April 8, at the Kettering Seventh-Day Adventist Church at 1:30 p.m. This 30th Anniversary milestone underscores the significance that competitions have for young artists attempting to complete their studies and launch their careers. Many of the Guild Competition winners have gone on to enjoy renown in the United States and abroad.

Six outstanding young performers from throughout the region took to the stage to show their talents. There was a tie for first place between sopranos Lisa Marie Rogali and Elena Villalon both from the University of Cincinnati. Second place went to Elana Bell, a mezzo-soprano who recently graduated from Oberlin College and Conservatory. The Fran Michael Audience Favorite Award went to Lisa Marie Rogali.  Other finalists included: baritone Alex Kapp from the University of Louisville, soprano Madelaine Matej from Case Western Reserve University and soprano Virginia Mims from Indiana University.

Lisa Marie Rogali, Elena Villalon, Elana Bell

Elana Bell, Elena Villalon, Lisa Marie Rogali

Samples of the selections can be viewed on Youtube. Click here for Lisa Marie. Click here for Elena.

While the judges deliberated, Dr. David Sievers of the University of Dayton introduced the winners of the March 24 High School Vocal Competition. They each sang a delightful selection and were awarded their prizes and certificates.

Lauren Maynus, Reed Gneeper, Alaya Hinesmon

Alaya Hinesmon, Reed Gneeper, Lauren Maynus, Dr. David Sievers


Preliminary judges for the 2018 Competition were Jerry Reaper and Jeffrey Powell. These judges review the application forms and vocal samples that are submitted. They narrow the Competition to the six finalists who perform in the finals on April 8.

Jerry Reaper has sung with the Dayton Opera Chorus since 1997.  He is an alumnus of the Dayton Philharmonic Chorus and the Bach Society of Dayton.  Jerry studied 5 years with  Kay Griffel,  international operatic Spinto Soprano. Ms. Griffel is a retired principal from the Cologne Opera, followed by seven seasons as principal at the Metropolitan Opera.  Mr. Reaper sang the role of bass cockney in the Dayton Philharmonic Pops presentation of My Fair Lady, Sam in Un Ballo in Maschera from Charles Wendelken-Wilson’s Operatic Selections Concert,  the Lawyer in Gianni Schicchi and understudied the role for Poobah in The Mikado with the Dayton Opera Funatics.  Jerry has served as a trustee of both the Dayton Opera and the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance.

Maestro Powell’s career began in Kansas City when he stepped in on short notice to The Barber of Seville for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Soon after, he secured posts as Assistant Conductor for both The Lyric Opera of Kansas City and The Kansas City Symphony. He served as Assistant Conductor for San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theater and won the Metzgar Family Award for excellence in vocal coaching. He joined Dayton Opera in 1991 to serve as Resident Conductor, Music Director for the Artists-in-Residence program and Director of the Dayton Opera Chorus, a post he has held ever since. Maestro Powell has served arts organizations including the Bay View Music Festival, Des Moines Metro Opera, the Ohio Light Opera, The Cincinnati Opera, The Human Race Theater Company, and The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Maestro Powell’s repertoire includes La fille du Régiment, Madama Butterfly, and Cosi fan tutte. He has also conducted opera and music theater productions at Wright State University.

The judges for the finals of the Competition were:

Tom Bankston

Tom Bankston is the current Artistic Director of Dayton Opera.  He is in his 21st year with the Dayton Opera and has guided the company through the many changes brought on by the past recession and the company’s 2012 merger with the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance.  Before coming to Dayton, he served as Production Manager, Director of Education and Outreach, Director of Operations, and Artistic Administrator during his nineteen years on the staff of Cincinnati Opera.  A trained operatic baritone, he appeared with companies including Pittsburgh Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Pittsburgh Chamber Opera Theater and Whitewater Opera before his professional move into the world of arts administration.

Denise Ritter Bernardini

Doctor Denise Ritter Bernardini, currently  with the University of Toledo Department of Music as an associate professor of voice, was previously with the voice faculty of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Oklahoma City University and the University of Oklahoma. She received a Bachelor’s degree from East Central University, a Master of Music from Texas Christian University and her DMA from the University of Oklahoma, where she studied with Dolores Leffingwell and the great Marilyn Horne. Denise has performed throughout the United States with recent performances including Verdi’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Pergolesi’s Magnificat, Bach’s Missa in A Major, Dvorak’s Te Deum, and Mozart’s Requiem, Mother in Amahl and The Night Visitors, Violetta in La Traviata, and Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto. She has performed with orchestras which include Fort Worth Symphony, Tulsa Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Symphony of Bartlesville (Oklahoma), Oklahoma City Symphony, and International University of Global Theater in Leibnitz, Austria. She is the recipient of numerous awards including ones from the Metropolitan Opera, American Traditions Competition, Benton- Schmidtt Contest, and the National Federation of Music Clubs.

Myra Merritt

Myra Merritt is currently with Bowling Green State University on the faculty and staff in the College of Musical Arts.  She received her bachelor’s degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music and master’s degree from the Catholic University of America. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1982 as the Shepherd Boy in Wagner’s Tannhauser and sang other roles at the Met including Musetta in La Boheme, Bess in Porgy and Bess and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. She was featured on the 1983 Metropolitan Opera Centennial Gala performance; has performed with the Houston Grand Opera, Summer Opera Theater Company in Washington, D.C., National Opera of Finland, Theatre des Westens in Berlin, and Budapest National Opera. Myra has sung in Moscow, Ekaterinburg and Italy; performed at Wolf Trap Farm, Ford’s Theater and the Smithsonian Museum Concert Series; presented her debut recital at the Kennedy Center with the Washington Performing Arts Society; can be heard on the Grammy Award-winning RCA recording of Porgy and Bess and Deutsche Grammaphon’s live from the Metropolitan Opera video recording of Carmen. Her awards include grants from the National Opera Institute, Sullivan Foundation and the D.C. Commission of the Arts and Humanities; winner in the Beethoven Society Competition for Opera Singers and the Catholic University of America’s Alumni Achievement Award in Music. She has been featured in publications such as Glamour Magazine, Washington View Magazine, Famous African American’s Encyclopedia and Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia.

Martha Ann Cardosco-Reaper  and Jamie Cordes acted as co-chairs to plan this wonder event. Thanks go to them for their hard work. Thanks are extended to Susan Herman for planning the reception that followed the Competition, to pianist Jeffrey Powell and all the others who assisted in making the day a success.


2017 Tri-State College Vocal Competition

Opera Guild of Dayton held  the 29th annual Tri-State College Vocal Competition April 2, 2017, at 1:30 p.m. It was an extraordinary array of six very talented young singers who performed. Over 30 entrants vied for the honor of winning the Competition and the Preliminary Judges were challenged to narrow the field to these six entrants.

Preliminary judges for this year’s Competition were Dr. Minnita Daniel-Cox from the University of Dayton and Dr. Nolan Long from Sinclair Community College. Judges for the finals on April 2 were: Tom Bankston, general and artistic director of Dayton Opera; Kara Shay Thomson, renowned American soprano; and Jeffrey Powell, Dayton Opera conductor and chorus master. Melody Wallace will serve as pianist for the competitors. The Guild is extremely pleased that many past competitors have gone on to fulfill very successful operatic careers.

Jeffrey Powell, Kara Shay Thomson and Tom Bankston

The Judges–Jeffrey Powell, Kara Shay Thomson and Tom Bankston

The First Place Winner of this year’s Competition was baritone De’Ron McDaniel from the University of Cincinnati. There was a tie for Second Place between mezzo soprano Marie Engle from Prayner Conservatory in Vienna and soprano Caitlin Gotimer from the University of Cincinnati. Caitlin was also selected by the attendees as the Audience Favorite.

De'Ron McDaniel Marie Engle Caitlin Gotimer

Click on De’Ron’s, Maria’s or Caitlin’s photos above to hear snippets of their arias.

Tammy Schaff served as chair of this year’s Competition. Jamie Cordes acted as Master of Ceremonies. Both of them were previous winners of the Guild’s High School Vocal Competition. The criteria for the Competition is as follows:

Purpose of the Competition

To support and encourage the vocal education of young singers
by providing the opportunity to win competition awards


Any student age 18-23 who attends college in Ohio, Indiana, or
Kentucky, or is a resident of Ohio, Indiana, or Kentucky and
attends college elsewhere may apply.

Preliminary Competition Requirements

• A recent 8×10 photo (non-returnable)
• A good quality CD recording of two
contrasting arias, each performed in its
original language (non-returnable)
• Two letters of recommendation from
music professionals
• A $25 non-refundable application fee

Additional Information

• Up to six finalists will be selected by preliminary judges
• All entrants will be notified via mail by late March
• Finalists will compete before a panel of nationally known judges on April 2, 2017
• Winners may be asked to perform at an Opera Guild of Dayton event


First Place………………………………..$2,500
Second Place……………………………$1,500
Audience Favorite……………………….$400
All Other Finalists………………………..$150

Date, Time and Location of Competition

Sunday, April 2, 2017
1:30 p.m.
Kettering Seventh-Day Adventist Church
3939 Stonebridge Road
Dayton, Ohio 45419
(At the corner of Stroop Road
and Southern Boulevard)

A brief reception followed the competition.



Superb Vocals at the 2016 Tri-State College Vocal Competition


Front: Emily Redden, Marianthi Hatzis, Aleska Barkoviak

Back: De’Ron McDaniel, Steele Fitzwater, Dylan Davis

The Guild hosted the final round of its annual Tri-State College Vocal Competition on Sunday, April 10, at Kettering Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Attendees heard  six extraordinary voices by a diverse group of finalists. These singers were selected from all submissions during a preliminary judging. The preliminary judges were Dr. Minnita Daniel-Cox from the University of Dayton and Jeffrey Powell from Dayton Opera.

Judges for the finals were Tom Bankston of Dayton Opera, Dr. Eric Street from the University of Dayton Music Department,  and  Jason Hiester from Opera Columbus. The final results were: 1st place  – Marianthi  Hatzis, a mezzo soprano  from Indiana University; 2nd place tie –   Dylan Davis, tenor  from Otterbein University and  Steele Fitzwater, bass baritone from  Miami University.  Other finalists were :  Emily Redden soprano from University of Kentucky,  De’Ron McDaniel baritone from Oberlin and Aleska Barkoviak soprano from Cedarville University.  Each year those attending are given the opportunity to vote on their favorite performer and this year the Audience Favorite was Emily Reddem. She received a cash award of $400 for that honor. Jeffrey Powell was the accompanist for all the entrants.  As a special treat, the audience had the opportunity to hear the annual High School Vocal Competition winners during the judges’ deliberation.

A thank you goes out to Susan and Dale Herman for hosting a reception after the Competition. This was a chance to mix and mingle with the “stars” of the day and other opera lovers. The Competition was chaired by Tammy Schaff with assistance from Nora Stang and Linda Menz.

Past winners have frequently gone on to experience very successful professional careers in many facets of opera. Click on the Hall of Fame menu item above to read about our stars.


2016 TSCVC Poster0002

Click on the image above to enlarge.


2015 Tri-State College Vocal Competition

The 27th Anniversary Tri-State College Vocal Competition was held on Sunday, April 26, at Kettering Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The competition began at 1:30 p.m. Chairs Kathy Brown and Tammy Schaff organized the competition with a fine group of young and talented singers. And the winners were:

2015 Vocal Comp Winners

 Annalise Dzwonczyk (Fran Michael Audience Favorite), Joshua Blue (first place), Erica Intilangelo (second place)

The Preliminary Judges for the Competition are:

Minnita-Daniel Cox who is Assistant Professor of Voice and Voice Area Coordinator at the University of Dayton and Vocal Performance Institute Coordinator at the University of Dayton.
Jeffrey Powell who is Resident Conductor and Music Director for the Artists-in-Residence program for Dayton Opera and Director of the Dayton Opera Chorus.

The Finals Judges are:

Thomas Bankston who is Artistic Director of Dayton Opera with DPAA.
Sylvia J. Plyler who is Professor Emerita of Opera and Accompanying at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Karl Resnik who is Executive Director of the Musical Arts Center in O’Bryonville (Cincinnati) and voice instructor,

Pianist for the Competition was Jeffrey Powell.

Preceding the Competition was the Guild’s annual The Stars of Tomorrow Lunch. A reception at the Church followed the judging so that the audience could meet and congratulate the singers.


In 2014, first place was won by tenor Carlos Santelli from Oberlin. Annalise Dzwonczyk from Cincinnati secured second place and was also voted the Audience Favorite. A short reception followed the Competition.

Stephen Lusmann, Charles Parsons,  tenor Joseph Leppek, soprano Elleka Okerstrom, soprano Katherine Rossiter, tenor Carlos Santelli, soprano Annalise Dzworczyk, baritone Andrew Manea, Tom Bankston



 A Weekend of Singing

2013 High School Vocal Competition

Once again the High School Vocal Competition was sponsored by the Norma J. Ross Youth Foundation. The Guild appreciates the continued support for the area’s talented young singers. Chair Linda Menz organized the event held on Saturday, April 27, at Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Oakwood.  The judges this year were Dr. Minnita Daniels-Cox, Brent Manley and Alice Hotopp. They chose Carly Snyder of Centerville High School as the First Place Winner. Second Place was won by Kathleen Baudendistal of Valley View High School and Third Place went to Maya Vansuch who is home schooled. Honorable Mention was awarded to Olivia Anderson of Carroll High School and Chloe Waddle from National Trail High School.  Congratulations to all!



Judges Dr. Minnita Daniels-Cox, Brent Manley, and Alice Hotopp


2013 Tri-State College Vocal Competition

The 25th Anniversary Tri-State College Vocal Competition was held on Sunday, April 28, at Kettering Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Six extraordinary finalists for the 2013 Tri-State College Vocal Competition were chosen from approximately 20 entrants by this year’s Preliminary Judges Charles Larkowski and Eric Street. Chair Kathy Brown once again organized this event and introduced each finalist as they sang two arias for the appreciative audience and the Judges Tom Bankston, Eric Street and Erie Mills. Carol Walker acted as accompanist for most singers. 

Chair Kathy Brown


First Place–Olivia Yokers, Soprano                 Second Place–Andrew Manea, Baritone

Indiana University                                             Cleveland Institute of Music

Both with Chair Kathy Brown       Photos by Steven Brown

Audience Favorite–Annalise Dzwonczyk, Soprano

University of Cincinnati


A Rising Star

We have just learned that our Tri-State College Vocal Competition winner from 2010, Sydney Mancasola, was an apprentice in 2012 with the Santa Fe Opera. And she has named one of six winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Auditions recently held in New York. Congratulations Sydney!


2012 High School Vocal Competition

The High School Vocal Competition will be held on Saturday, April 27, at Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Oakwood. The audition times will be sent to applicants by mail no later than Wednesday, April 24. Young singers in the 11th and 12th grades from all over Ohio were invited to compete for cash prizes.  For more information, contact Chair Linda Menz at 937/572-3594. Click here for a printable application.

2012 High School Vocal Competition Winners


   1st Place                                                                  2nd Place (tie)

Scott Feyche                              Kathleen Baudendistel                        Carly Snyder

Lakota West High School                      Valley View High School            Centerville High School


3rd Place (tie)

Amanda Stollings                                       Tyrinn Poole

Stivers High School

Judges-Matias, Brent and Sharon

2012 High School Vocal Competition Awards

Sponsored by the Norma J. Ross Youth Foundation

Opera Guild of Dayton was pleased to announce that the 2012 High School Vocal Competition Awards was once again be funded by a generous donation from the Norma J. Ross Youth Foundation. Norma was a leader in diversity and educational initiatives for the Guild for many years through her membership and Board of Directors activities. Norma’s creative ideas to bring opera to children in the greater Dayton community are deeply missed. The Guild is sincerely grateful for this donation in memory of Norma to help fulfill our mission to encourage young singers.


Tri-State College Vocal Competition

The Tri-State College Vocal Competition will be held on Sunday, April 28, at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Kettering at 1:30 p.m . Any man (age 19-23) or woman (age 18-22) who attends a college in Ohio, Indiana or Kentucky or is a resident of those states and attends college elsewhere is eligible. For more information, contact Chair Kathy Brown (at right in photo below) at 937/296-0543. Click here for a printable application.


2012 Tri-State College Vocal Competition

Kathy noted that there were 22 entrants this year with the six finalists performing at the Sunday competition. Those finalists were (from the left): baritone Chance Eakin, University of Cincinnati; mezzo soprano Melisa Bonetti, University of Cincinnati; soprano Lauren Dickel, Oberlin University; baritone Nicholas Ward, University of Cincinnati; soprano Annalise Dzwonczyk, University of Cincinnati; and mezzo soprano Alyssa Martin, Indiana University. Each contestant performed two selections. Accompanists for the performers were Jeff Powell and Valerie Pool.

Preliminary tape judges for 2012 were Jeff Powell and Jamie Cordes. The judges for the finals on April 29 were Tom Bankston, general and artistic director of Dayton Opera; Lee Hoffman, assistant professor of voice and director of opera workshop at Central State University, and Dr. Eric Street, professor of piano at the University of Dayton.

And the winner of the 1st place $2500 award was Alyssa Martin. She was also voted the $400 Audience Favorite. Nicholas Ward captured the 2nd place $1500 award. All other finalists received $150.


Our Guild Vocal Hall of Fame

Previous winners have gone on to experience very successful musical careers. Elizabeth De Shong, college winner from 2001, has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago’s Lyric Opera, the Canadian Opera Company and more. Soprano Alyson Cambridge, winner from 2000, joined the Young Artists Development Program in 2003-2004, has sung with the Metropolitan Opera and a number of other prominent opera companies. Click here to read more about Alyson.

Alyson Cambridge

The winner and audience favorite from the 2009 Vocal Competition was Andrea Shokery. She has been busy since competing. Click here to read about her at www.andreashokery.com.

Andrea Shokery

The 2003 winner, Scott Skiba, has gone on to achieve diverse and unique accomplishments including being a stage director, singing actor and opera instructor. He is currently the Director of Operations and Resident Stage Director for Opera per Tutti, the Cleveland-based Opera Company whose critically acclaimed performances are attracting new Opera fans and supporters of all ages in a wide range of communities and demographics in Northeast Ohio. Scott is a faculty member at the Interlochen Arts Academy where he is instructor of voice and opera workshop, and is the Executive Director of Oberlin in Italy, The Oberlin Conservatory of Music’s annual summer study abroad program in Arezzo, Italy. Read even more about Scott’s busy career on his Website by clicking here.

Read all about 2006 winner Adam Fry on the Pittsburgh Opera Website where he is currently an Artist-in-Residence. Click here for the details.