Burbank Native Wins Top Prize At George London Competition

By On March 4, 2015

Burbank native Julie Adams won the top prize of the forty-fourth annual George London Foundation Competition for young American and Canadian opera singers, along with five additional finalists. The winners were announced February 27 at the end of the final round of the competition at Gilder Lehrman Hall at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.

Julie Adams performing in the 2015 George London Foundation competition. (Photo Courtesy Shawn Ehlers)

Julie Adams performing in the 2015 George London Foundation competition. (Photo Courtesy Shawn Ehlers)

Adams, a soprano, won the George London-Kirsten Flagstad Award, sponsored by the New York Community Trust, for a potential Wagnerian singer.

Tenor Michael Brandenburg, age 28 from Austin, IN, won the George London Award in memory of Lloyd Rigler. Julia Dawson, a mezzo-soprano, age 26 from Cobourg, Ontario, Canada won the George London Award sponsored by Liliane and Robert Brochu for a Canadian singer.

Bass Adam Lau, age 30 from San Francisco, CA, took home the George London Award sponsored by The Lissner Charitable Fund. Sarah Mesko, a mezzo-soprano, age 30 fom Hot Springs, AR, won George London-Leonie Rysanek Award, while baritone Reginald Smith, Jr., age 26 from Atlanta, GA, won the George London Award.

Each award includes a cash prize $10,000. The George London Awards are one of the most prestigious vocal competitions in the country. More than $2 million has been awarded since 1971 to young American and Canadian opera singers, many of whom have gone on to international stardom.

Past winners include Christine Brewer, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Catherine Malfitano, Eric Owens, Matthew Polenzani, Sondra Radvanovsky, Neil Shicoff and Dawn Upshaw.

Adams recently won the grand prize at the 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.  She is a first-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and alumna of the 2014 Merola Opera Program, where she performed the role of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.

This past fall, she sang the role of Mimì in San Francisco Opera’s presentation of La bohème for families. During her studies with César Ulloa at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, from which she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees, she performed the roles of Blanche in Les Dialogues des Carmélites, Mimì in La bohème, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi.

Other credits include Lia (Debussy’s L’Enfant Prodigue) at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv; Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara; and Magnolia Hawks (Show Boat) and Rose (Street Scene) with the Oakland East Bay Symphony. Adams is a former studio artist with Opera Santa Barbara.

“As Adler Fellows, our responsibilities include covering/understudying the main stage singers and sometimes we even sing small roles on the main stage,” said Adams. “We also take part in daily classes such as movement classes, language classes, acting classes, costume classes, voice lessons, vocal coachings, etc. It is a wonderful place to be and I couldn’t be happier.”

George London Foundation President Nora London (center) with 2015 George London Award winners (left to right) Michael Brandenburg, Sarah Mesko, Reginald Smith, Jr., Julie Adams, Julia Dawson and Adam Lau.  (Photo Courtesy Shawn Ehlers)

George London Foundation President Nora London (center) with 2015 George London Award winners (left to right) Michael Brandenburg, Sarah Mesko, Reginald Smith, Jr., Julie Adams, Julia Dawson and Adam Lau. (Photo Courtesy Shawn Ehlers)

American bass-baritone George London devoted much of the time and energy of his later years to the support and nurturing of young opera singers with the creation of the George London vocal competition. This year’s panel of judges included opera stage director Bruce Donnell, soprano and San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald, former Metropolitan Opera administrator Alfred F. Hubay, George London Foundation President Nora London, mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer and tenor and voice professor George Shirley. The competition pianist was Linda Hall.

A total of $71,500 was given in awards at the 2015 George London Foundation Competition. After three days of preliminary auditions, during which 81 singers were heard, 21 were selected as finalists. Of these, six were selected as winners of George London Awards of $10,000 each and eight were given George London Foundation Encouragement Awards of $1,000 each. The remaining seven finalists received $500 Honorable Mention awards.

Adams’ next performance is a Schwabacher Debut Recital accompanied by San Francisco Opera Head of Music Staff John Churchwell on Sunday, March 29, in San Francisco. More information about the performance can be found at this link.