Pittsburgh Festival Opera honors First Place Winner Meghan Kasanders at 7th Mildred Miller Competition

PITTSBURGH, PA (October 24, 2017) — First Place Winner Meghan Kasanders, 26, led the field of nine finalists at Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s Seventh Annual Mildred Miller International Voice Competition with her performances of Dich, teure Halle from Wagner’s Tannhäuser and “Come scoglio” from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte on Sunday, Oct. 22 at The Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh.

The New York-based soprano received a $6,000 prize supported by Pittsburgh Festival Opera Board Member Phyllis Sidwell.

The slate of winners also included:

Shannon Jennings, 29, soprano, Pittsburgh, PA – Second Prize of $5,000, made possible by anonymous donor.

Melinda Whittington, 33, soprano, Charlotte, NC – Rob Chafin Third Prize of $4,000, made possible by Jamini Davies.

Corrie Stallings, 29, mezzo soprano, Pittsburgh, PA – Mildred Miller Mezzo-Soprano Prize, supported by Mildred Miller Posvar who announced her endowment of this new $1,000 award on stage.

Errin Duane Brooks, 32, tenor, New York, NY – Audience Favorite Prize, a $1,000 award made possible by Pittsburgh Festival Opera Board President Dr. Eugene and Barbara Myers, and selected via a vote by audience members.

Jeff Byrnes, 28, baritone, Detroit, MI – Judges’ Commendation and contract offer, with all finalists receiving a special commendation made possible by an anonymous donor for their participation.

The finalists were joined on stage by Company founder, competition judge, and competition namesake Mildred Miller Posvar, Pittsburgh Festival Opera Artistic Director Jonathan Eaton, and host Jim Cunningham of WQED-FM who introduced the singers during the three-hour event in the Frick’s intimate theater.

In 2017, the panel of five judges included: Mildred Miller Posvar, founder of Pittsburgh Festival Opera and acclaimed Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano; Jonathan Eaton, Artistic Director of Pittsburgh Festival Opera and Professor of Music/Margot and Bill Winspear Chair in Opera

Studies, University of North Texas College of Music; Robert Chafin, tenor, Assistant Professor of Voice, West Virginia University School of Music; Timothy LeFebvre, baritone and Associate Professor of Singing, Oberlin College Conservatory; and Jane Eaglen, dramatic soprano, whose storied career includes leading roles in the operas of Wagner, Verdi, and Puccini among many others. Her international performance and teaching career has taken her to the leading opera houses and academic centers of the world.

Pianists for the competition were James Lesniak and Stephen Variames.

Explore the Pittsburgh Festival Opera Facebook page for the live videos and news on all the award winners.


American soprano Meghan Kasanders is quickly gaining recognition as a promising young dramatic voice. Ms. Kasanders is currently working towards an Artist Diploma in Opera Studies (ADOS) at the Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at The Juilliard School, New York City. After a recent tour of singing Berta in The Barber of Seville with Des Moines Metro Opera’s ‘Opera Iowa’, Ms. Kasanders sings her company debut with Opera Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, New York in June. As an Apprentice Artist there, she will cover Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, and sing the role of Sadie Pollock in Cradle Will Rock, directed by John Mauceri. Ms. Kasanders will make another company debut with Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis, Missouri, returning to a favorite role, Gertrude (Mutter) in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel.  Read more at: https://www.meghankasanders.com/


Celebrating 41st Season in 2018

Pittsburgh Festival Opera was founded in 1978 by Mildred Miller Posvar, acclaimed Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano. In its 19th year under Artistic Director Jonathan Eaton, the Festival launches its 41st season of innovative and intimate opera and music events, June 29-July 22, 2018:

  • Rhinegold, the opening opera in the reprise of its “Pittsburgh Ring,” a multi-season run of Wagner’s four opera master work in Jonathan Dove’s acclaimed English version, first produced in Pittsburgh by the company in 2005-2006. Rhinegold opens the series with the three other operas following through 2021 when all four Ring Cycle operas will be staged.
  • La boheme, in a new 1960’s production inspired by the work of Pittsburgh-born artist Andy Warhol. Puccini’s tragic romance will be transported from Paris to the artist garrets and streets of mid-century America.
  • Arabella by Richard Strauss, in a continuing series of rare and ravishing Richard Strauss operas. Arabella is the fifth Strauss opera to be featured in recent summer seasons.

In addition, a workshop for the company’s 29th world premiere project, “Fight for the Right,” will be a featured part of the summer season.  “Fight for the Right” is a global commissioning competition for composers and librettists to propose new works based on themes of women’s and girls’ education. From the pool of submissions, four teams will be selected to present scenes from their work in Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s 2018 season. From that performance, one work will be chosen to be developed into a full-length opera for the 2019 season, continuing the company’s “Music That Matters” series—presenting new works on issues relevant to modern audiences.

Other programming includes a Saturday morning family opera (Goldie B. Locks) and recitals featuring members of the Young Professional Artists Program.

Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s Mainstage is the 360-seat Falk Auditorium, Winchester Thurston School in Pittsburgh’s thriving East End. Events are also held in community venues during the season and throughout the year. Details and schedules at: PittsburghFestivalOpera.org

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