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Taylor-Alexis DuPont, Ryan Johnson, and Nyla Watson. (Photo by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music.)

25th Lenya Competition Awards 3 Top Winners

The 2023 competition marks the first time that the prize has been awarded to more than one finalist.

NEW YORK CITY: The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music has announced the winners of the 25th annual Lenya Competition. In a three-way tie, the jury awarded first prize to Taylor-Alexis DuPont, Ryan Johnson, and Nyla Watson.

“This year the final round was anything but business as usual,” said foundation president and Lenya Competition founder Kim Kowalke in a statement. “In 25 years, I’ve never seen a jury in absolute agreement that all three were fully deserving of first place and a $25,000 prize. Such an outcome is truly without precedent.”

The final competition was held on April 29 in a gala reunion concert featuring 12 former competition winners. The performance will be available to stream on the foundation’s website beginning May 8.

DuPont has performed with the Washington National Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, and the Virginia Opera. She debuted as a soloist with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra in El Amor Brujo and performed in the ensemble of the Metropolitan Opera’s Grammy Award-winning Porgy and Bess. The winner of the 2021 Rebecca Luker Award, she will perform this summer as Audrey in the world premiere of The Rip Van Winkles at the Glimmerglass Festival. She holds a Masters in Music from the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute.

Johnson has performed with Opera Saratoga and will debut at the Glimmgerglass Festival this summer. He is a former Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, a finalist in the George London Foundation Competition, and a district winner for the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions. He holds a Bachelor of Music from Texas Tech University and an MM from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Watson is an actor, singer, and coach currently performing in the touring production of Hadestown. A 2019 Lenya Competition winner, Watson has performed on and Off-Broadway and in the Live from Lincoln Center production of Show Boat. An Ohio native, she holds degrees from Baldwin Wallace University and the New York University Steinhardt School.

Additionally, the jury awarded the Kurt Weill Award to Jeremiah Sanders and the Rebecca Luker Award for outstanding performance of a Golden Age classic to Celeste Rose. Both prizes carry an award of $6,000. All semifinalists will receive an award of $1,250.

The Lenya Competition recognizes talented young singer-actors in opera, operetta, and Broadway scores, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill. The competition has awarded over $1.5 million in prize money since its inception in 1998. It is a program of the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, which preserves and perpetuates the legacies of composer Weill and actor and singer Lotte Lenya, his wife.

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