Our 2007 Prizewinners

Mari Moriya, Japanese Soprano – Winner of 2007 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland

Mari Moriya


Mari Moriya is one of today’s leading sopranos. Her “beautiful voice … and clean and precise coloraturas” (Der neue Merker) are but two of her consistently critically acclaimed assets in the dramatic coloratura as well as lyric repertoire, which encompasses bel canto heroines Lucia and Maria Stuarda as well as Puccini’s Mimì and Liù.

November in 2018 sees her return to Opera Vlaanderen as Miss Schlesen in Philip Glass’s Satyagraha following her debut there in 2016 as Queen Tye.

Highlights of the 2017-18 season for Mari Moriya includes her role debuts as Feldmarschallin von Werdenberg in Der Rosenkavalier and Cio-cio San in Madama Butterfly with Tokyo Nikikai Opera Theater, Drusilla and La Fortuna in L’incoronazione di Poppea with BCJ, Sieglinde in Die Walküre directed by Michael Hampe in Biwako Hall. In June she appears as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte at the Nissay Theatre in Tokyo and as Mademoiselle Silberklang in der Schauspieldirektor with Bach Collegium Japan. 

During the current 2016-2017 season she has appeared as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte at the Aichi Triennale 2016 in Nagoya City, Konstanze in Entführung aus dem Serail at the Nissay Theatre and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at Suntory Hall.  Role debuts to come are as Freia in DasRheingold in Biwako Hall and Leonora in Il Trovatore with Mikawa City Opera.

In 2015-16 she brought her Queen of the Night back to Oper Leipzig, where she first sang it in 2009-10, and then performed the role at the Theater Basel.  Further career highlights that season include her debut as Violetta in Robert Wilson’s new production of La Traviata at the Landestheater Linz and creating the role of Lara/Change in the world première of Moritz Eggert’s Terra Nova. She also sang Micaela in Carmen with Stadttheater Klagenfurt, Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Hyogo Performing Arts Center in Nishinomiy and soprano solo in Carmina Burana and Verdi’s Requiem.

During the 2014-15 season she made her successful debut at De Vlaamse Opera as Queen Tye in Philip Glass’s Akhnaten, as well as singing the soprano solos in a staged version of Carmina Burana and the role of Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier at the Landestheater Linz. As a member of the ensemble in Linz between 2009 and 2014, she not only sang major coloratura roles such as the title heroines in Lakmé and Maria Stuarda, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Clorinda in La Cenerentola, and Gilda in Rigoletto, but was also able to expand her repertoire to successfully portray lyric roles like Mimì, Pamina and Micaela.

In 2006 Mari Moriya made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera New York as Queen of the Night under the baton of James Levine. Since then she has performed this role numerous times with leading opera companies in Europe and the United States, including Palm Beach Opera (2006), Pittsburgh Opera (2007), Portland Opera (2007), Glyndebourne Touring Opera (2008), Oper Leipzig (2009-10), Baltimore Opera (2010), Seattle Opera (2011), Scottish Opera (2012), Volksoper Wien (2012-13) and Landestheater Linz under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst (2013-14).

She first appeared in Europe with Opera Ireland in 2007 as Liù in Turandot and returned to Dublin as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos (2008) and Zerlina in Don Giovanni (2009). Other career highlights include Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Lucia di Lammermoor, both with the Israel Vocal Arts Institute in Tel-Aviv, Amina (cover) in La Sonnambula with Opera Orchestra of New York, Linda di Chamonix (cover) at the Caramoor Festival, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette with Center City Opera Philadelphia, Norma at the Chopin Festival in Gdansk, Adina in L’elisir d’amore with Tulsa Opera and Clorinda at the Salzburger Landestheater.

Mari Moriya was born in Oyama, Japan, and studied at the Musashino Academy of Music in Tokyo (Master of Music) and at the Mannes College of Music in New York (Professional Studies Diploma). She was a Grand Finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2006 and won awards in major international singing competitions such as Cardiff Singer of the World (Concert Prize – 2007) and Belvedere Singing Competition (Hans Gabor Sonderpreis – 2008).

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Tara Erraught, Irish Mezzo-Soprano – 2nd place 2007 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland
Photo by Kristin Hoebermann

Tara Erraught


A rich, radiant voice, expansive range and dynamic stage presence are the hallmarks of Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught. With a wide repertoire that includes Bellini, Dvorak, Gounod, Mozart, Puccini, Rossini, Strauss and Verdi, as well as contemporary composers, she enjoys an ever-growing international career on the opera, orchestra and recital stages. In recent seasons Ms. Erraught has sung world premieres, made numerous role debuts, and appeared in recitals and concerts throughout the United States, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Following summer engagements that include Parsifal (Zweiter Knappe) with Bayerische Staatsoper and Orlando Paladino (Alcina) at Munich’s Princeregententheater, 2018-19 season highlights include singing the role of Angelina in La Cenerentola in an eight-city tour of the United Kingdom with Welsh National Opera; Despina in Cosi fan Tutte and Hansel in Hansel und Gretel with Bayerische Staatsoper; and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Staatsoper Berlin. Miss Erraught also makes her debut with Indianapolis Symphony and can be heard in recital on Ireland’s National Concert Hall International Concert Series.

Recent season highlights include company debuts with Gran Teatre del Liceu (Stephano, Romeo et Juliette); The Metropolitan Opera (Nichlausse/The Muse, Les Contes d’Hoffman and Hansel in Hansel and Gretel); Irish National Opera’s first season (Susanna, The Marriage of Figaro); Staatsoper Berlin (Rosina, Il Barbiere di Siviglia); Bayerische Staatsoper (reprise of Angelina, La Cenerentola; Carlotta, Die Schwiegsame Frau); Ireland’s Opera Theater Company (Dona Elvira in the world premiere of Roddy Doyle’s new translation of Mozart’s Don Giovanni) and Wide Open Opera (Rosina in a new production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia); recital debuts at Schubertiade, Schwarzenberg, Welsh National Opera’s International Concert Series, Vocal Arts DC and South Carolina’s Peace Center, and a return to the Vancouver Recital Society; the Salzburg Festival (Siebel, new production of Faust with the Vienna Philharmonic), as well as her role debut as Annius in Deutsche Gramophone’s live recording (out July 6, 2018) of two concert performances of  La Clemenza di Tito in Baden Baden. Additional opera company credits include the Hamburg Staatsoper, Wiener Staatsoper, Theater an der Wien, Washington National Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Miss Erraught has made 33 role debuts with the Bayerische Staatsoper alone.

Recital and orchestral performances include, in North America: New York’s Carnegie Hall, Weill Hall, Celebrity Series of Boston, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Terrace Theater, Vocal Arts DC, Kansas City’s Harriman-Jewell Series, Ann Arbor’s University Musical Society, and Vancouver Recital Society. International appearances include Austria’s Schubertiade, Schwarzenberg; the United Kingdom’s Wigmore Hall, the BBC Proms, and Welsh National Opera’s International Concert Series; France’s Le Grand Foyer Series, Opera de Lille; Japan’s Tokyo Opera Nomori; Ireland’s National Concert Hall, Music for Galway, Drogheda International Classic Music Series, and solo opera gala concerts with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra; and Munich’s Nymphenburg Sommer and Bayerische Festspiele.

She can be seen on DVD in the title role of Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier on the Opus Arte label.

A native of Dundalk, Ireland, Tara Erraught is a graduate of the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, where she studied, and continues to study, with the acclaimed Royal Opera soprano Veronica Dunne. A resident principal soloist with the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich from 2010 – 2018, amongst Tara Erraught’s awards are a prestigious Promeritis scientiae et litterarum (2013) from the Bavarian government in recognition for outstanding contribution to the arts, a 2010 Dublin’s National Concert Hall’s Rising Star Award, and First Prize in the Jakub Pustina International Singing Competition in the Czech Republic, along with the Zdar nad Sazavou Audience Prize in 2008. In that same year she was awarded both the Houston Grand Opera Prize and the Washington National Opera Prize at the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Vienna. In 2007 Ms. Erraught won the Dermott Troy Award for the Best Irish Singer. Ms. Erraught also works with famed German mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender, expanding her lieder and opera repertoire.

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Stephanie Corley, UK Soprano – 3rd place 2007 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland

Stephanie Corley


Stephanie studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and at the National Opera Studio and has since appeared in major roles with both Scottish Opera, Opera North, Glyndebourne Festival, Buxton Festival, Opera Holland Park and regular appearances with Birmingham Opera (Graham Vick). Foreign engagements have included principle roles at the Nederlandse Reisopera and at Teatro Massimo di Palermo. Stephanie also maintains a busy concert diary throughout the UK in repertoire encompassing Britten, Verdi, Mozart, Vaughan Williams and Rossini.

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Naomi O'Connell, Irish Mezzo-Soprano – 4th place 2007 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland – Photo by Janette Beckman
Photo by Janette Beckman

Naomi O’Connell


Hailed by The New York Times as “radiant,” Irish performer Naomi Louisa O’Connell made her professional stage debut in 2012 starring on London’s West End in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play Master Class in the role of Sharon Graham, an aspiring young opera singer opposite Tyne Daly who portrayed Maria Callas. The Times called her performance “…spectacular,” and The Independent lauded her “…thrilling rendering of an aria from Verdi’s Macbeth.”

Current orchestral highlights include: a return engagement with the Cincinnati Symphony and Maestro Louis Langrée for the third season of CSO’s Pelléas Trilogy, where she sings the role of Mélisande in Debussy’s opera (having performed Mélisande in CSO’s presentation of the Maeterlinck play in fall 2016); her debut with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, featuring both an artist residency and a performance of Martucci’s La canzone dei Ricordi; and a performance with Brazil’s Orquestra Jovem do Estado de São Paulo, singing Bernstein’s JeremiahSymphony. In 2018, she returns to Opera Omaha for their production of Cherubini’s Medea in the role of Neris.

In recital with piano partner Brent Funderburk, Naomi premieres a new cabaret program in December 2017 called ‘The Cheater’s Almanac,’ with performances at New York’s Neue Galerie and the Detroit Institute of Arts, as well as a recital tour of their ‘Words to Love & Live By’ program. Other recent NYC recitals include her ‘Bird in a Gilded Cage’ program on the MET Live Arts series, and her all-German cabaret, FRAU, at the Neue Galerie. She is featured on the New York Festival of Song’s recording of Paul Bowles’ Picnic Cantata, to be released next season, and her acclaimed ‘Witches, Bitches & Women in Britches’ recital will be recorded for television broadcast in Illinois.

Recently on the theatre stage, Naomi performed the leading role in Kiss Me, Kate at Opera North, as well as a workshop of Richard Nelson’s new play Oblivion at Lincoln Center Theater, and a reading of The Rivals: A Musical, with book by Peter Kellogg and music by Stephen Weiner. On the operatic stage, she sang with Geneva Opera in Figaro Gets A Divorce, Opera Omaha in Jonathan Dove’s Flight, and made her critically acclaimed Spoleto Festival debut in the US premiere of the Vivaldi opera, Farnace.

As an opera singer, she has performed with Frankfurt Oper, Geneva Opera, Welsh National Opera, and Garsington Opera in Europe, and New York City Opera, Opera Omaha and Atlanta Opera in the USA. Notable roles performed include Monteverdi’s Poppea and Ottavia, Ravel’s L’Enfant, Debussy’s Mélisande, Mozart’s Cherubino and Despina, Purcell’s Dido, Offenbach’s La Périchole and La Corilla, and the role of Serafin in the world premiere of Figaro Gets A Divorce. Naomi made her US stage debut as Rosine/Countess Almaviva in Stephen Wadsworth’s adaptation of the Beaumarchais Figaro Plays at the McCarter Theatre in 2014.

A gifted musician and natural performer, Naomi deftly balances her love of opera with that of art song, musical theater and popular song with repertoire ranging from Schumann, Strauss and Ravel to Bernstein, Gershwin and Randy Newman. This versatility led to her First Prize victory at the 2011 Concert Artists Guild International competition, and at her subsequent Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Recital Hall—entitled Witches, Bitches & Women in Britches—where The New York Times hailed her as “a natural in the recital format, winning over the audience with her rich, silvery voice and charming stage presence.”  Her strong partnership in recital with pianist Brent Funderburk began in 2011 for her debut at Alice Tully Hall in the Juilliard Vocal Arts Honors Recital, and has continued with collaborative recitals across the US; notable recital series include the Neue Galerie, Merkin Concert Hall, Rockefeller University and the American Irish Historical Society, as well as the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Stanford University Shenson Series, Purdue University Convocations and the Artist Series of Tallahassee.

Notable awards include Garsington Opera’s 2012 Leonard Ingrams Award, First Prize at the 2011 Caruso/Altamura International Vocal Competition, the Novick Career Advancement Grant and Makiko Narumi Award for Outstanding Mezzo-soprano from The Juilliard School, and First Prize in Operetta at the 2008 International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition.

Born to Irish/German parents in County Clare, Ireland, Naomi Louisa O’Connell began her studies with Archie Simpson and is an alumna of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, where she studied with voice teacher Mary Brennan. She holds a Master of Music degree and an Artist Diploma in Opera Studies from The Juilliard School where she studied with voice teachers Dr. Robert White and Marlena Malas and acting teacher Stephen Wadsworth. Naomi is currently based in New York City where she lives with her husband and enjoys writing, yoga, telling terrible jokes and yearning after her neighbor’s dogs.

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Elizabeth Donovan, British Soprano – 5th place 2007 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland

Elizabeth Donovan


Elizabeth Donovan was the 2002 Welsh Singer of the Year and represented Wales at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World in 2003. A graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music she completed her studies at the National Opera Studio in London.

Winning several awards whilst at college, Elizabeth was the first recipient of the Maidment Scholarship from Musicians’ Benevloent Fund, a Miriam Licete Award, a Sybill Tutton Award, The Countess of Munster Award and was a Sir Peter Moores Foundation Scholar. She was a prize winner at the 2006 Concours International de Chant de Toulouse and the 2007 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition.

A former Welsh National Opera Associate Artist, roles for the company included Blumenmädchen ParsifalErste Dame Die ZauberflöteEcho Ariadne auf NaxosBerta Il barbiere di SivigliaBarbarina Le nozze di Figaro & Zerlina Don Giovanni. She covered roles including Micaëla CarmenValencienne The Merry Widow and SusannaLe nozze di Figaro.

Most recently she performed Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro on tour for Diva Opera and covered the title role in Jenůfa, in the original Czech, for Scottish Opera, in a new production directed by Annilese Miskimmon and also for Opera North.

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Dante Alcala, Mexican Tenor – 6th place 2007 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland – Photo by Frances Marshall

Dante Alcalá


Tenor born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México.

Since his debut at The Bellas Artes Palace in 2000, he has participated in operas such as: Il Trovatore, The Elixir of Love, Alice in the Wonderland, Macbeth, Rheingold, Mulata de Córdoba, Juditha Triumphant, Romeo and Juliette (Gounod), Romeo and Juliette (Berlioz), La Vida Breve, La Traviata, La Rondine, Madame Butterfly, María del Carmen, La Vestale, Monteverdi’s Orpheus, Ildegonda, Matilde, Edgar, Carmelites Dialogues, Cavalleria Rusticana, Lucia di Lamermoor, The Merry Widow, Die Fledermaus, Rigoletto, Tosca, Boheme, Carmen, among others.

His oratorium repertoire: Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle (featuring with the worldwide recognized Spanish Chorus Orfeón Donostiarra), Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Mozart’s C Minor Mass, Beethoven´s Ninth Simphony, Verdi’s Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, Bach’s Magnificat, Bruckner’s Te Deum, among others.

He has sung in places such as: Royal Teather (Wexford, Ireland), Utrecht Concert Hall (Nederland), Maestranza’s Theater (Seville, Spain), Royal Festival Hall (London, England), Principal Theater (Santiago de Compostela, Spain), Municipal Auditorium (Medina del Campo, Spain), Summer In Lesmona (Bremen, Germany), Rheingau Festival (Koblenz, Germany), Main Auditorium of the Francisco Marroquín University (Guatemala), Ho Center (Toronto, Canada), Teresa Carreño Theater (Caracas, Venezuela), Klassik Open Air (Nuremberg, Germany), Bellas Artes Theater (Bogotá, Colombia), Wortham Center (Houston, Texas, USA), Cultural Center of the Philippines (Manila, Philippines), Bellas Artes Palace (México City), National Auditorium (México City), Esperanza Iris Theater (México City), Nezahualcóyotl Concert Hall (México City), Ollin Yoliztli Hall (México City), Chapultepec Castle (México City), Siqueiros Poliforum (México City), Grand Forum (México City), Degollado Theater (Guadalajara, Jal. Mx.), Juárez Theater (Guanajuato, Gto. Mx.), Manuel Doblado Theater (León, Gto. Mx.), Republic Theater (Querétaro, Qro. Mx.), Josefa Ortíz de Dominguez Auditorium (Querétaro, Qro. Mx.), Principal Auditorium (Álamos, Son. Mx.), Heroes Theater (Chihuahua, Chih. Mx.), Paso del Norte Theater (Cd. Juárez, Chih. Mx.), Main Theater (Culiacán, Sin. Mx.), Ángela Peralta Theater (Mazatlán, Sin. Mx.), Conventions Center (Coatzacoalcos, Ver. Mx.), Pedro Díaz Theater (Córdoba, Ver. Mx.), Nazas Theater (Torreón, Coah. Mx.), Metropolitan Theater (Tamaulipas, Tamps. Mx.), Main Theater (Puebla, Pue. Mx.), Xicoténcatl Theater (Tlaxcala, Tlax. Mx.), Macedonio Alcalá Theater (Oaxaca, Oax. Mx.), among others.

Conducted By: José Areán, Paolo Arrivabeni, Enrique Bátiz, Max Bragado Darman, José Luis Castillo, Zohuang Chen, Eric Culber, José Cura, Eduardo Díaz Muñoz, Plácido Domingo, Srba Dinic, Horacio Franco, Carlos García Ruíz, Raúl García Velázquez, Miguel Gómez Martínez, Guido Maria Guida, Héctor Guzmán, Hoffman, Alfredo Ibarra, Mikhail Jurowski, Stephan Lano, Daniel Lipton, Fernando Lozano, Rodrigo Macías, Gianfranco Marceletti, Fernando Mino, José Miramontes, Marco Parisotto, Enrique Patrón de Rueda, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Carlo Rizzi, Samuel Saloma, Alexander Shelley, Alfredo Silipigni, Carlos Spierer, Lim Yau, Marco Zambelli, among others.

Stage Directors: Luis Miguel Lombana, Hernán Del Riego, Sergio Vela, César Piña, David Athie, Alejandro Chacón, Agnese Sartori, Gian Carlo Del Mónaco, Thomas De Allen Burgues, Marcelo Lombardero, Leopoldo Falcón, among others.

In 2010 he sang at the Klassic Open Air, for more than 60,000 people in Nuremberg, Germany, with the Nürnberg Phillarmonic Orchestra conducted by Alexander Shelley.

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Celine Byrne, Irish Soprano – 6th place 2007 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (VDISC) in Dublin, Ireland – Photo by Frances Marshall
Photo by Frances Marshall

Celine Byrne


Celine Byrne is a lyric soprano from Kildare, Ireland. In 2007 Celine was a finalist and was awarded the William Young Prize at the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition, Dublin. Later that year she was awarded theBrabants Dagblad Press Prize’ at the IVC International Singing Competition in s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands and then went on to win First Prize and Gold Medal at the Maria Callas Grand Prix, Athens.

Now Celine is recognised nationally and internationally as one of opera’s great stars. A performer of  ‘fine lyrical quality and a touching actor’, Celine made her operatic début 2010 singing the role of Mimi in La Bohéme. Since then she has   performed roles such as: Micaela in Carmen for The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Donna Elvira with Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv, Floria Tosca (Tosca) Mikhailovsky Opera, St. Petersburg, Liu (Turandot) andElizabeth (Don Carlo) in Leipzig and Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf  (to name, but a few). 

This season Celine’s performances include: Magda in Puccini’s La Rondine with Minnesota Opera, the title role ofMadama Butterfly in Staatstheater Kassel, Madama Butterfly with the newly formed Irish National Opera, the Celine Byrne Christmas Gala in Dublin, Die Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier in Santiago and Marietta/Marie in a concert performance of Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt with RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. 19/20 season highlights include Celine’s debut at the Opéra National de Paris as Ortlinde in Wagner’s Die Walküre and Mimi in La Bohéme at Hamburg State Opera.

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Our 2007 Jury

Jane Carty
Competition Chair

David Agler
International Music Director

Ugo Benelli
International TENOR

Isabella Gabor
Wiener Kammeroper

Marie McLaughlin
International SOPRANO

Steven Naylor

Laurent Wagner
International Conductor and Vocal Coach