Congratulations to Olivia Yokers, the 2011 Opera Idol™ winner!
Watch videos of our 2011 Opera Idol™ finalists below.
Walker Jermaine Jackson
2011 OPERA IDOL™ FINALISTS
On Tuesday, July 5, the 10 Opera Idol™ semi-finalists performed live in concert, the judges offered their comments, and the audience of over 300 avid opera fans cast their votes. Walker Jermaine Jackson, Heather Morrey, Bill Shuler, Heather Spence, and Olivia Yokers were chosen as the 2011 Opera Idol™ Finalists!
2011 OPERA IDOL™ SEMI-FINALISTS
Like the characters on her favorite TV show Glee, Chelsea Fries has been singing for as long as she can remember. Currently a senior at Northern Kentucky University, 20-year-old Fries possesses a coloratura soprano, and she shared some of her vocal fireworks with the Opera Idol™ judges when she sang “Ah! non giunge” from Bellini’s La Sonnambula. Fries, originally from San Jose, California, says she hopes to win the competition so that she can share her love of music with others.
Cincinnati native Leah Gordon studied voice at Central State University. For her audition she sang the traditional Albert Hay Malotte arrangement of “The Lord’s Prayer.” A mezzo-soprano, Gordon seeks to use her voice as an instrument of her strong personal faith. “No matter who you are or what your background is,” says the 26-year-old customer service representative, “All things are possible if you work hard and believe in yourself.”
“I’m looking forward to singing opera in front of an audience other than my wife,” said Samuel Hall, a resident of Grove City, Ohio, of the Opera Idol™ competition. The 38-year-old tenor often bases his musical selections on his wife’s requests, resulting in an extensive repertoire. At the auditions, Hall demonstrated his talent with “E lucevan le stelle,” the famous tenor aria from Puccini’s Tosca. Now an Engineering and IT Systems Specialist at Nationwide Insurance, Hall is making his entrance into the musical world through the Opera Idol™ competition.
Walker Jermaine Jackson
Walker Jermaine Jackson recently graduated from Indiana University with a Master of Music in vocal performance and will pursue music theory at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music this fall. Jackson, 24, was looking for apartments in Cincinnati on the day of the Opera Idol™ auditions. He decided then and there to audition, impressing the judges with the tenor aria “Che gelida manina” from Puccini’s La Bohème. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Jackson is passionate about jazz and its free-flowing improvisatory nature. “I believe I have something special to offer,” said Jackson, “and I hope that I can bring joy to those who hear me sing.”
Shawn Mlynek works as a server at Vito’s Café in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. The 24-year-old Toledo native recently moved to Cincinnati to begin his first year of graduate school at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Mlynek performed the tenor aria “Quanto è bella” from L’Elisir d’Amore for the judges. Mlynek says that he hopes to be this year’s winner because “I’m ready to show people what I can do!”
Full-time mother, part-time voice and piano teacher, avid reader, and Cincinnati resident Heather Morrey has been singing since she was 10 years old. Opera Idol™ gave her the chance to reacquaint herself with her first passion. Morrey, 33, impressed the judges with her soprano voice, singing “Dich, teure Halle” from Tannhäuser and securing her place as one of the 10 semi-finalists.
Catherine M. Scott
Catherine M. Scott is a mezzo-soprano and Cincinnati resident. Scott began her audition with “Parto, parto,” from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, and when the judges asked for a selection from Carmen, she lit up the room. “I’ve worked very hard to strengthen and improve my voice,” she said, “and now I’m ready to show it off!” Scott, 40, works as the activity leader for the Boys and Girls Club at Taft Elementary School.
Bill Shuler auditioned with the classic song “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma! Shuler, a father and Finance Manager at SHP Leading Design, hails from Loveland, Ohio and is an avid fan of Glee. At 39 years old, the self-declared tenor and baritone entered the competition to “feed the passion for music that still burns.”
Heather Spence performed “Dich, teure Halle” from Tannhäuser for the Opera Idol™ judges. The 38-year-old native of Powell, Ohio is a dramatic coloratura soprano who enjoys singing Wagner. A Customer Service Representative for Careworks, Spence hopes that Opera Idol™ will give her “the chance to sing with a great opera company.”
Olivia Yokers has been singing since she was 12 years old. The soprano from Hamilton, Ohio is this year’s youngest Opera Idol™ semi-finalist at 19 years of age. Yokers dazzled the judges with her audition piece “If I loved you” from the musical Carousel, and impressed them with her ardent love of opera—an art form that she describes as “dramatic and beautiful.” Yokers, a JC Penny Sales Associate, plans to use the competition as an opportunity to fully express her passion for music.