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Southern Miss Singers Win Awards and Direct Shows

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 13:42pm | By: Mike Lopinto

David WalkerUniversity of Southern Mississippi (USM) alum David T. Walker was awarded third place overall and won the Deborah Voigt Award in the Utah Vocal Arts Academy “Death by Aria” competition. His colleague, Amanda Charles, second year DMA Vocal Performance student at USM, was selected to be the director for the opera scenes program for the academy.

“Death By Aria” is an annual competition held by the Utah Vocal Arts Academy and sponsored by Utah Lyric Opera. It is comprised of singers at the summer academy as they are judged “American Idol” to determine winner. Each contestant performed shortened versions of arias in the preliminary round’ then progressively longer selections through grueling auditions to select the top 23, top 10 and top 5.

Finally, the top three perform for a full audience and a guest judge. This year, renowned operatic soprano Deborah Voigt, joined the panel and selected Walker as her favorite.

“It was such a great feeling to even place in the competition,” said Walker. “Everyone here is so talented, and that someone of great stature in opera like Ms. Voigt liking what I brought to the stage, was very humbling and affirming for me as an artist.”

In addition, Walker will be performing as Mercury in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld and as Don Curzio in Mozart’s Le Nozze Di Figaro.

Amanda CharlesCharles will direct scenes from operas including Verdi, Mozart, Donizetti, Gilbert and Sullivan, Britten, and more. The performance is scheduled for July 23 at 7 p.m. MDT and available

“I have really enjoyed getting to work with all of these wonderful singers in staging these scenes,” said Charles. “I have been so grateful for this opportunity to grow and learn as a director.” 

Utah Vocal Arts Academy is a summer opera program for promising young artists to grow their craft with several vocal and acting masterclasses, private coaching and preparation for a scenes program and two fully staged opera performances. Students from this program have done well gaining roles and positions at The Metropolitan Opera, Opera North, and Opera in the Ozarks to name a few.