Chautauqua Welcomes Williams

The new year is turning out to be a banner year for opera singer Timothi Williams, who grew up in Wellsburg.

Williams, a mezzo-soprano, has been chosen to join the Chautauqua Opera Company as a studio artist for its 2019 season. She is one of 24 young singers selected for this prestigious company.

Chautauqua Opera produces opera and music theater at the famous Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York each summer.

According to officials of the organization, Chautauqua Opera, which opened in 1929, “is the oldest continuously producing summer opera company in the United States.” It also is the fourth oldest American opera company after the Metropolitan Opera, Cincinnati Opera and San Francisco Opera.

Meanwhile, Williams is scheduled to compete next Sunday in the Great Lakes Region finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. The competition is set to take place at the Nichols Flickinger Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, New York.

Williams earned her place in the regional finals by winning the Pittsburgh District auditions at Carnegie Mellon University on Dec. 8.

She will be joined by winners from the Michigan District and the Buffalo-Toronto District to compete in the Great Lakes Region finals. All will be seeking a chance to perform with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

Williams is a graduate of Brooke High School and a 2014 graduate of West Liberty University, where she completed a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. She pursued graduate studies at Penn State University, earning a master’s degree in vocal performance and a professional performance certificate.

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There is a musical precedent, with similar local connections, for Williams’ participation in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Alan Cline, who also grew up in Wellsburg and graduated from Brooke High and West Liberty University, competed in the Met auditions last year.

Cline, a baritone, was a winner in the Pittsburgh District’s competition a year ago.

He was chosen as the 2017-18 regional winner from the Great Lakes Region, selected at auditions held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in January 2018. As a result, Cline advanced to the semi-final auditions and performed on the Met’s main stage last April. However, he didn’t make it to the final round of the competition.

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Of course, prior to the institution of the current format for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Wheeling native Eleanor Steber won first prize at the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air and earned a Met contract in 1940.

Steber, a soprano, became a star of the Metropolitan Opera during her long and storied career. Among her many honors, she was inducted in the Wheeling Hall of Fame.

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Turning to another field of artistic pursuit, directors of dance companies and schools in the Mountain State have until Friday to enroll students in the West Virginia State Dance Festival.

Applications for directors, dancers and scholarships must be submitted to the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History by that date.

Student applications are accepted only from directors affiliated with full-time dance establishments in West Virginia. Dancers must be at least 12 years old and have at least one year of training in classical ballet with two lessons a week. All performers must be enrolled for classes at the festival, organizers said.

The annual dance festival will be held at the Culture Center in Charleston April 26-28. Lorraine Elizabeth Graves, former principal dancer at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, will return as lead faculty and adjudicator for the festival.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer.net

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