Friday, January 12, 2018

Winners and Finalists Named in N J Verismo Opera's 29th Annual International Vocal Competition

Verismo Opera Vocal Competition Finalists redu

(Fort Lee, New Jersey; January 11, 2018) – Lucine Amara, Artistic Director of the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera, announces the winners and the finalists selected in the company's 29th Annual International Vocal Competition. Soprano Yulan Piao, a finalist in Verismo Opera's 28th Annual International Vocal Competition, receives first place and a $2,000 award. Tenor Peter Scott Drackley takes second place and a $1,000 prize, and tenor Taehwan Ku receives third place and a $500 prize.

For the first time in the competition's history, the distinction of Honorable Mention goes to finalists Hayan Kim and Carami Hilaire. The remaining finalists are Xueyan Fan, Joseph Han, Kang Seok Hoon, Helaine Liebman, and Gyuyeon Shanel Shim.

Luminary Judges

An illustrious panel of judges adjudicated the final round of the competition. They include soprano Emily Pulley, who has performed with the Met Opera, NY City Opera, and other companies; Simón Saad, a lecturer and stage director affiliated with Ópera de Colombia, Teatro Colón, Teatro de la Zarzuela, and Ansonia Music Outreach; and Lucy Arner, Principal Conductor/Music Director with the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera.

Winner Yulan Piao croppedKorean-Chinese soprano Piao impressed the judges with her beautiful voice and stage presence. Among her recognitions, she holds third prize in the 2017 Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, first prize in the Five Towns Music and Arts Foundation, and an Encouragement Grant from Career Bridges. Other awards are Super Finalist in Opera Connecticut's "American Opera Idol 2017", second prize in the IVAI Opera Idol Competition and first prize in the Concurso Internacional de Canto Teatro Colón Korea regional round.

Training Singers

The finalists attended three free four-hour 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 Nola Studios in New York City. They received critical feedback; extensive free coaching on language, style and presentation; and the prospect to perform in Verismo Opera's fully staged upcoming productions. Support for the competition is made possible, in part, with funds provided by the New Jersey Council on the Arts/Department of State, through grant funds administered by the Bergen County Department of Parks, Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs.

Awards Ceremony at Bergen Performing Arts Center

The winners receive their awards and prizes at Verismo Opera's debut of Giacomo Puccini's Turandot on Sunday, April 22, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. at the Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), located at 30 North Van Brunt Street in Englewood, New Jersey. Piao debuts with the company as Liu in Turandot. Purchase tickets at; in person at the theatre's box office, located at 30 North Van Brunt Street in Englewood, New Jersey; and by calling (201) 227-1030or toll-free at 1-888-PACSHOW.

About New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera

For 29 years, the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization headquartered in Fort Lee, New Jersey, has been an integral part of the region’s classical music culture. Led by Metropolitan Opera luminary Lucine Amara, Verismo Opera is the Bergen Performing Arts Center's house opera company. Verismo Opera provides performing opportunities for artists through semi-annual productions and concerts, directs an international vocal competition drawing artists worldwide, and organizes opera workshops and master classes.

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

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