Speight Jenkins, general director of Seattle Opera, choose the finalists from a pool of 43 candidates who auditioned in Vienna, Berlin, London, Paris, Seattle, and New York. The singers are aged 25 to 40 and have not had more than one engagement in a major opera house. They will compete, accompanied by an orchestra including members of the Seattle Symphony led by conductor Asher Fisch, in Seattle Opera's Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.
The finalists are soprano Carolyn Betty from Wilmington, Delaware; tenor Jason Collins from Columbia, South Carolina; soprano Dorothy Grandia from Mt. Kisco, New York; tenor Paul McNamara and soprano Miriam Murphy from Dublin, Ireland; baritone James Rutherford from Dulwich, England; tenor Andrew Lindsay Sritheran from Wellington, New Zealand; and bass Carsten Wittmoser from Essen, Germany. The two alternates are soprano Maria Jooste from Capetown, Africa, and tenor Philip O'Brien from London, England.
Competition judges will be mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe; Peter Jonas, director of the Bavarian State Opera since 1993; tenor and director Peter Kazaras; Dorothea Glatt, assistant to Wolfgang Wagner, longtime director of the Bayreuth Festival; and director, author, and translator Stephen Wadsworth.
"Wagner singers have always been rare," said Speight Jenkins. "Seattle Opera international Wagner competition provides the unprecedented opportunity to uncover talent that will carry on a great tradition. Identifying artists with the potential to become great Wagnerian singers and showcasing their talents will provide opportunities for these singers to be noticed by opera company representatives and coaches from the United States and Europe, many of whom will be in the audience."
The Seattle Opera has been a center for Wagner performances since it staged its first Ring cycle in 1975. It has since presented a series of complete cycles, as well as other Wagner works.