Past Winners

UKOT’s Stellar Tenor: Taylor P. Comstock

Taylor’s path from 2009 high school graduate in Independence, MO to being hailed as “perfectly suited for the lyric lover” (Lexington Herald-Leader, February, 2017) has not been smooth. He started college with a full scholarship to the conservatory in Kansas City, but personal issues forced him to take a semester-long leave of absence to sort out these problems, which he blames on no one but himself. When he met and talked with Everett McCorvey at the Bayview Music Festival in Petoskey, MI he was given a second chance to live his dreams.

In 2017 he was the Tenor Soloist in Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the University of Kentucky. Most recently, Taylor performed with University of Kentucky Opera Theatre in Madama Butterfly (Pinkerton) in March, 2019 and Silent Night (Kronprinz, Nikolaus Sprink-Cover) in November, 2018. He has also appeared with Wolf Trap Opera in Idomeneo (Title Role-Cover, Chorus) and Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (Chorus). His 2017 appearance with University of Kentucky Opera Theatre in La Traviata (Alfredo) was described as “with a warm earnestness” and “consistently lovely of voice” (Lexington Herald-Leader, October, 2017). Taylor has also appeared in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Conte d’Almaviva), and as part of UK’s Schmidt Opera Outreach Program (SOOP) in a 2015 tour of The Billy Goats Gruff (Dandini). Credits for Taylor also include La Bohème (Rodolfo), Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio), Dialogues des Carmélites (Le Chevalier-Cover, Chorus), and L’Elisir D’Amore (Nemorino-Cover, Chorus).

In concert performance, Taylor appeared in Mt. Sterling, KY in a performance of Saint-Säens’ Oratorio de Nöel. In a 2018 solo recital, he presented Vaughan-Williams’ “The House of Life” and Lee Hoiby’s “I Have A Dream,” among other works. He performed in July 2018 as an Ensemble Soloist at Wolf Trap Opera’s “Bernstein at 100” celebration featuring the National Symphony Orchestra, where he sang a selection from Bernstein’s Candide with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sitting in the third row

Concert credits for Mr. Comstock also include performances of Handel’s Messiah, Theofanidis’ The Here and Now, and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. He has also performed in Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine and J.S. Bach’s Christ lag in Todesbanden.

Taylor has competed in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (2018-19 Central Region: Second Place), the 2018 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition (Grand Finalist), the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition (2016 Transfer Winner, 2018 Graduate 2nd Place), the 2017 Eleanor McCollum Competition, and state and regional-level NATS.

Conductors, stage directors, and coaches whom Taylor has worked with recently include Keith Chambers, Richard Gammon, David Hanlon, Cliff Jackson, Dr. Jefferson Johnson, Cynthia Lawrence-Calkins, Dr. Tedrin Blair Lindsay, Eric Melear, Geoffrey McDonald, Louisa Muller, John Nardolillo, Dr. Casey Robards, Omer Ben Seadia, Emmanuel Villaume and Stephen Wrentmore.

Future engagements for Taylor include performances as a Gerdine Young Artist at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, where he will appear in The Coronation of Poppea (Lucano – Cover), The Marriage of Figaro (Chorus), Rigoletto (Chorus), and as Featured Soloist in the Center Stage gala. He will perform as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi with UK Opera Theatre in fll, 2019.

Visit Taylor P. Comstock’s web page.

Reginald Smith Jr

Baritone Reginald Smith Jr. was named a Kentucky District Winner in 2010, as well as a winner in the final Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in New York on March 22, 2015. Reggie, as he’s known to his many fans, came to the University of Kentucky in 2007 as an Alltech undergraduate scholarship winner. During his four years in the UK voice program, as a student of Everett McCorvey, he performed in most of the UKOT operas, including Porgy and Bess, Roméo et Juliette, The Magic Flute, La Bohème, Madame Butterfly and, most memorably perhaps, in the title role of Verdi’s comic opera, Falstaff . The Met win was only one of Reggie’s many recent awards. In 2014 he won the People’s Choice Award at the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition and the Grand Prize for Young Artists in the Orpheus Vocal Competition. In 2015 he was one of five $10,000 winners in the George London Foundation Vocal Competition. In April, 2017 he sang at Carnegie Hall in the Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition winners’ concert.

At Houston Grand Opera he has appeared as Dr. Blind in Die Fledermaus, Dancaire in Carmen and Marullo in Rigoletto and The Bonze in Madame Butterfly (which he also sang last year with Cincinnati Opera) and The Magic Flute. Recent concerts include Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with the Boise Philharmonic, Beethoven’s Ninth with the Johnson City Symphony, How the Grinch Stole Christmas with the Atlanta Symphony and recitals in several venues. This summer he will appear as Count Almaviva in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at Wolf Trap Opera. Reggie calls Houston’s Opera Studio “one of the finest professional education programs in the U.S.” Although he was invited back for a third year at HGO, “I have an agent now at Columbia Artists Management, and I’m ready to go out on my own.” Reggie was featured in the October 2015 issue of Opera News.

Visit Reginald Smith’s Web Site

Amanda Balltrip

Amanda Balltrip2008-2009 Season winner Amanda Balltrip, soprano, hails from the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky and has been praised as “the total package of the acting singer” (Rich Copley, Lexington Herald–Leader). Most recently, she performed with the Lexington Singers and University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra as the soprano soloist in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, soprano soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with Central Christian Church under the direction of former Lexington Philharmonic conductor George Zack and Elizabeth in the world premiere of Thy Will Be Done by Angela Rice with Bluegrass Opera. In April she sang the role of Despina in Così fan tutte with the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra, followed by Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust with Highlands Opera in May.

Other operatic roles include Rosalinda (Die Fledermaus), Musetta (La Bohème), Gretel (Hänsel and Gretel), Frasquita (Carmen), Dorothée (Cendrillion), First Witch (Dido and Aeneas), Genovieffa (Suor Angelica) and Papagena (Die Zauberflöte).

Internationally, Ms. Balltrip has performed in Montréal, Canada with the International Vocal Arts Institute, as an Alltech Scholar with The Royal Academy of Music in Dublin, Ireland and in Bogotà, Colombia where she performed a recital of electro-acoustical music for the new music festival, En tiempo real: nuevos espacio sonoros. Ms. Balltrip also performed in the 2009 SEAMUS Music Conference in Fort Wayne, IN.

She was selected by composer Thomas Pasatieri in 2007 to play Tallulah, the leading lady in his new comic opera The Hotel Casablanca and in 2009 created the role of Ann Rutledge in the world premiere of River of Time by Joseph Baber, an historical opera about the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Ms. Balltrip was a Kentucky District winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2008 and was recognized with the Encouragement Award in 2006 and 2007. She was also awarded the second place graduate prize in the Alltech Opera Scholarship Competition, which provided her full tuition and a stipend for her master’s degree. She obtained her bachelor and master’s degrees in music performance from the University of Kentucky under the guidance of Gail Robinson and Dr. Angelique Clay. Amanda currently resides in Somerset, KY.

For more information, visit Amanda Balltrip’s web site.

Brandy Lynn Hawkins

A 2006-2007 Kentucky District winner, the mezzo soprano is a graduate of National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists Program in Washington, singing in many outreach performances of the development studio. She was awarded the Richard F. Gold Soshana Foundation Award for her outstanding achievements. In 2017 with the Ebony Opera in Houston she appeared as Hänsel in Humperdinck’s Hänsel and Gretel, Humperdinck and Suzuki in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

Recently Ms. Hawkins has performed with Palm Beach Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Ashlawn Opera and Kentucky Opera. In September 2011 she sang the role of Carmen in a concert performance with Kentucky Opera.

For more information, visit Brandy Lynn Hawkins’ web site

Meredith Arwady

A 2003-2004 season Kentucky District winner, the contralto realized our advertising motto, “From Lexington to Lincoln Center,” in a very short time. After subsequently winning the Tri-State Region and the Grand Finals in New York, further collecting numerous other awards such as the 2005 Kirsten Flagstad Award, presented by the George London Foundation for a singer with a promising Wagnerian career, First Prize of the 2004 Licia Albanese/Puccini Competition and a 2007 Richard Tucker Career Grant, she made her Lincoln Center – the Metropolitan Opera that is – debut in the 2008-2009 season as Pasqualita in John Adam’s Dr. Atomic. A year later she was again on the Met stage as Marquise of Berkenfeld in The Daughter of the Regiment/Donizetti.

Contralto Meredith Arwady began the 2010-2011 season with the role of Auntie in Houston Grand Opera’s new production of Peter Grimes. Ms Arwady joined the Canadian Opera Company on their Brooklyn Academy of Music tour, with roles in Stravinsky’s Nightingale and Berceuses du Chat. Dallas Opera audiences heard her in Mussorsky’s Boris Godunov in the spring of 2011 and as Cornelia in Giulio Cesare at the Fort Worth Opera Festival. Ms. Arwady ended the season with the title role of Vivaldi’s Griselda in a new Peter Sellars production at the Santa Fe Opera in the summer of 2011. On the concert stage, she performed in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Edo de Waart and the Milwaukee Symphony and Handel’s Messiah with the University of Michigan. Ms. Arwady opened the 2011-2012 season as Erda in the Ring with Oper Frankfurt.

Ms. Arwady began the 2009-2010 season at the San Francisco Opera, appearing as the Abbess in Suor Angelica and Zita in Gianni Schicchi. San Francisco audiences also heard her in the role of Marquise of Berkenfield in Laurent Pelly’s production of La Fille du Régiment, a role she also recently performed at the Metropolitan Opera this season. Ms. Arwady will be making her debut as Erda in a new production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold at Oper Frankfurt She appeared on the concert stage this fall in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Loren Maazel conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra, followed by De Falla’s El Amor Brujo with West Michigan Symphony, and Messiah with the Washington National Symphony.

In the 2008-2009 season, Ms. Arwady debuted at the Metropolitan Opera as Pasqualita in John Adam’s Dr. Atomic, and made her European debut at the Oper Frankfurt as Ulrica in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera as well as her English National Opera debut in Dr. Atomic. Ms. Arwady performed in Tippett’s A Child of Our Time, as part of Jessye Norman’s Honor! Festival at Carnegie Hall. She made another debut with the Houston Grand Opera, in the world premiere of André Previn’s opera, A Brief Encounter and will join Chautauqua Opera for Menotti’s The Consul.

Ms. Arwady opened the 2011-2012 season with a role debut as Erda in Oper Frankfurt’s new production of Siegfried, followed by another role debut there as the 1st Norn in Götterdämmerung. In late spring, she returned to Frankfurt for the second cycle of the Ring On the concert stage, Ms. Arwady gave a recital at the Curtis Institute and will join the Boston Symphony for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Bernard Haitink conducting. In the summer of 2012, she performed Mahler’s 8th Symphony at the Aspen Music Festival.

Patricia Andress

The 2001-2002 Kentucky District Winner, American soprano Patricia Andress has consolidated her position as the supreme dramatic coloratura soprano of the Theater Bremen in Germany where she has been performing since the 2006-2007 season.

Ms. Andress has been heralded for her “luminous” voice (Opera News), and her “strong temperament” on stage (International Herald Tribune). Of her portrayal of Liù in Puccini’s Turandot, Die Welt raved, “Ms. Andress sings with an exquisitely musical, almost instrumentally controlled voice …”

Currently an ensemble member at Theater Bremen, Ms. Andress opened the 2011-2012 season as Elisabeth in Tobias Kratzer’s production of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, conducted by Markus Poschner. The international operatic publication Das Opernglas noted her voice as “carried on a delicate tone carpet… with great breath control and resonance,” and the Weser-Kurier praised her “beautiful colors…and exquisite piani.” This season, Ms. Andress also made her role and house debut as Hanna Glawari in Die lustige Witwe at Theater Lübeck in a production directed by best-selling German writer/director Michael Wallner. Her portrayal and stage presence were compared by the press to that of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Ms. Andress will close the season at Theater Bremen with another major role debut as the title character of Puccini’s Tosca in a production from the internationally acclaimed German director Vera Nemirova, conducted by Daniel Montané in June.

Highlights of the 2010-2011 season at Theater Bremen included Ms. Andress’ portrayal of the Puccini heroin and title character in Lydia Steier’s staging of Madame Butterfly, her debut as Elettra in Kay Kuntze’s visually ground breaking production of Mozart’s Idomeneo, as well as performances of Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Violetta Valéry in Verdi’s La Traviata in the publicly acclaimed production by the late Theo Richter.

Ms. Andress’ also performed the title role in Bellini’s Norma at Theater Bremen and Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern as well as the Mozart heroines of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Contessa Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro; Rosalinde in J. Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and Irene in Katarina Wagner’s much publicized production of her great-grandfather’s Rienzi, all at the Theater Bremen. Ms. Andress made her European debut in 2006 at the Semperoper Dresden as Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff with conductor Johannes Fritzsch.

Equally at home on the concert stage, Ms. Andress has had the opportunity to perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a production of Wagner’s Parsifal conducted by Pierre Boulez. Ms. Andress has also been the featured soloist in a program of Mozart concert arias with the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin as well as soprano soloist with the Bremen Philharmonic in performances of Handel’s Messiah. Ms. Andress was also a featured soloist in a performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio with the Bremen Philharmonic as a part of the 2010 “Tag der Deutschen Einheit” broadcast live from the Weser-Stadion to an estimated 60 million worldwide viewers.

For more information, visit Patricia Andress’ web site

Corey Crider

Crider was a winner of the 2001-2002 Kentucky District and Tri-State Region as well as the 2005-2006 Ohio District and again Tri-State Region – therefore a two-time semi-finalist.

Lauded by Opera News for his, “rich, dark baritone; a sumptuous, steady stream as smooth as silk,” American baritone Corey Crider is a recent alumnus of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center. In the 2011-2012 season, under the baton of Lorin Maazel, Corey sang the role of Bartolo in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia in Beijing, and Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen in Bari. He is also featured as the baritone soloist in Fauré’s Requiem with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, as Belcore in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore with Opera on the James, and makes his Nashville Opera debut as Sonora in La fanciulla del West. In 2012, Corey performed in concert as Marcello in Puccini’s La Bohème in Munich. In future seasons, he will make a return to the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Corey was recently heard at the Castleton Festival in the title role of Gianni Schicchi and as Marcello in La Bohème under the baton of Lorin Maazel. For the Lyric Opera of Chicago he has previously performed Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Yamadori in Madama Butterfly, and Larkens in La fanciulla del West. Also an alumnus of Florida Grand Opera’s young artist program, Corey has been heard on their mainstage as Schaunard in La Bohème and Prince Yashvin in the world premiere of Anna Karenina by David Carlson.

In addition to appearances with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra in Don Giovanni and Opera Festival di Roma as Mozart’s Figaro, Crider has been heard with the major opera companies of Omaha, Cincinnati, Nashville and Dayton. He performed excerpts from Don Giovanni with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, having sung that opera’s title role with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Nationwide he has performed a wide concert repertoire, ranging from Bach to Stravinsky.

A two-time national semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a finalist in Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers, Corey took fourth prize in the Florida Grand Opera Young Patronesses of the Opera Voice Competition. He is an alumnus of the Artist Diploma program at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music; as well as of the University of Kentucky (M.M.) and Murray State University (B.M.).

For more information visit Corey Crider’s web site.

Norman Reinhardt

Norman Reinhart, 2000-2001 and 2002-2003 season District winner, is a graduate of the prestigious Houston Grand Opera Studio. Competitions have included district winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2001 and 2003, and finalist in the Eleanor McCollum Competition in Houston in 2004.

Previous seasons have seen engagements at the Teatro Real, Madrid as Brighella Ariadne auf Naxos, Opera Colorado as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Opéra National de Lille as Alfredo in La Traviata, Israeli Opera as Ferrando in Così fan tutte, a role he also sang at the Santa Fe Festival in the summer of 2007, where he also sang performances of Platée. Other performances included Ernesto Don Pasquale (Opera Colorado), Jaquino Leonore (Teatro Real, Madrid), Belmonte Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Boston Lyric Opera) and Fenton Falstaff (Santa Fe Opera).

In 2008-2009, Reinhardt made his return to Houston Grand Opera as Bénédict Béatrice et Bénédict and as Lysander A Midsummer Night`s Dream and also sang the role of Ferrando Così fan tutte with Opera Colorado.

2009-2010 was the first season of Norman’s “Fest contract” at the Leipzig Opera, where his roles included Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Don Narciso Il Turco in Italia, Evandre in  Alceste and Almaviva in  Il Barbiere di Siviglia. During this season, he also sang the role of Fritz La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein with Basel Opera opposite Anne Sofie von Otter.

Highlights of Reinhardt’s 2010-2011 Leipzig Opera season include Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Lenskyin in Eugene Onegin. He is appearing this summer at Central City Opera as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi and Brother in Die Sieben Todsünden and looking further ahead, a revival of La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein at Theater Basel.

Gregory Turay

1995 District – Tri-State and National winner, and member of the Lindemann Young Artist Development program, made his Met debut as Brighella in R. Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos

(Pictured above is Scene from William Bolcom's "A View From the Bridge" with Richard Bernstein as Marco, Catherine Malfitano as Beatrice, Kim Josephson as Eddie, Isabel Bayrakdarian as Catherine and Gregory Turay as Rodolfo. Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

Gregory Turay, hailed by the London Times as “one of the brightest natural talents to have emerged from the U.S. in recent years,” has performed at leading opera houses throughout the world. Notable companies include The New National Theatre of Tokyo, English National Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Netherlands Opera, Opera Wroclaw in Poland, Opera Bordeaux in France, San Francisco Opera, Boston Lyric, Palm Beach Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Seattle Opera, and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. His favorite operatic roles include Roméo in Roméo et Juliette, Il Duca in Rigoletto, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Ferrando in Cosí fan tutte, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Rodolfo in A View from the Bridge, Nadir in Les Pêcheurs de Perles, and Tamino in The Magic Flute, among many others. He can be seen on DVD in The Merry Widow with San Francisco Opera and heard on CD in William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge singing Rodolfo, the role he created.

He has appeared in concert with St. Louis Symphony, Cleveland Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Boston Symphony, Ravinia Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Spoleto, Salzburg and numerous others. Conductors of note include James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, Carlo Rizzi, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Colin Davis, Antonio Gaudagno, Erich Kunzel, Alan Gilbert, Keith Lockhart and John Williams while performing at the 2006 Kennedy Center Awards.

He was awarded one of the industry’s highest honors, being named the 2001 Richard Tucker Award recipient and has won competitions and awards from The Young Concert Artists, The Metropolitan Opera National Council, the Catherine Pope Foundation and the Richard Gaddes Award.

In 2014-2015 Mr. Turay held the position of Artist in Residence at the University of Kentucky. In 2016-2017 he held the position of Alltech Artist in Residence.

For more information, visit Gregory Turay’s website

Gregory Turay as Rudolfo in La Bohème

From Lexington to Lincoln Center