Meet the Judges - Region Finals 2016

Paul Kilmer

Paul Kilmer

Paul Kilmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of Missouri at St. Louis and pursued graduate studies in Historical Theology at the Divinity School of St. Louis University.   Concurrently, he studied voice with Gertrude Ribla, Nicholas DiVirgilio, and Edward Zambara.  He began his professional singing career in summer stock with the St. Louis Municipal Theatre Association (The MUNY), and later worked extensively for Young Audiences, Inc., and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra in bringing musical experiences to thousands of St. Louis area school children.

In 1982, Mr. Kilmer was a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan National Council Auditions, and in that same year began his association with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis appearing in several mainstage and touring productions.  In 1983, he performed with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis at the Edinburgh Festival, the first occasion in which an American opera company had been invited to participate in the renowned international festival.

In 1984, Mr. Kilmer joined the administrative staff of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis assuming the duties of Artistic Coordinator.  In the fall of that year, he was named Artistic Administrator of the company.  Now in his thirty-second season with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, he holds the title of Director of Artistic Administration.

Mr. Kilmer is a frequent adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Gayletha Nichols

Gayletha Nichols

Gayletha Nichols, Executive Director Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions                  Ms. Nichols joined the artistic staff of the Metropolitan Opera in the fall of 2000 as Executive Director of the National Council Auditions. She brought to the Met two decades of experience as a singer, teacher and career advisor. From 1992-2000, she was Director of Houston Opera Studio, the young artist development program at Houston Grand Opera, where she created and individualized the training both for singers and pianists.

Ms. Nichols auditions hundreds of singers across North America every year and in her travels addresses many universities, conservatories, and festivals on developing the next generation of opera singers. She is a frequent adjudicator in national and international competitions and consults for other young artist programs across the country.

Craig Rutenberg

Craig Rutenberg

Pianist Craig Rutenberg, whose piano accompaniments have been praised for “sophisticated playing” and being “…his usual poetic self,”(NYT) as well as for “reinforcing every subtle impulse at the piano”, ( Financial Times), has collaborated with many of the world’s greatest vocalists and is recognized as one of the most distinguished accompanists on the stage today.

Having studied piano and interpretation with John Wustman, Geoffrey Parsons, Pierre Bernac and Miriam Solovieff, Mr. Rutenberg has appeared in performance with Diana Damrau, Christine Brewer, Susanne Mentzer, Frederica von Stade, Angelika Kirchschlager, Dawn Upshaw, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner and Jerry Hadley as well as Olaf Baer, Simon Keenlyside, Piotr Beczala and José van Dam. He has performed with Mr.Hampson at the White House.  
                                   
Mr. Rutenberg, whose recording with Susanne Mentzer prompted Opera News to praise him for “(making) the piano sing with clean articulation and a palette of colors to coordinate with…every mood,” records for Deutsche Grammophon, EMI/Angel, BMG/RCA and Koch International. He has appeared repeatedly in concert on national and international television and radio, including numerous PBS specials.

Head of Music Administration at the Metropolitan Opera from 2006-2015, Mr. Rutenberg is also guest coach at The Royal Opera in Stockholm, the Gothenburg Opera, the Stuttgart Opera and the Zurich Opera. He has coached and given master classes at the Ryan Opera Center for American Artists at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theatre, the Santa Fe Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Craig Rutenberg has also worked for the Opera Studio de Paris, the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the San Francisco Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, the Vancouver Opera and the Stanislavski Theater in Moscow.

In addition and his teaching activities in Stockholm and Moscow during the 2015-2016 season, Mr. Rutenberg appears in recital with Christine Brewer, Diana Damrau, Susanne Mentzer. As a solo pianist, he completes his recording of the piano portraits of Virgil Thomson for the Virgil Thomson Foundation’s label, Everbest.