Wednesday, December 19, 2012

1974: Mrs. Friedrich Schorr Visits the Metropolitan Opera portrait gallery in NYC.

On a trip to the Metropolitan Opera in 1974, Mrs. Friedrich Schorr visited the old portrait gallery at the MET to view the painting of her husband, Fried'l, in costume as Hans Sachs in Wagner's Die Meistersinger. Scroll down to see the most recent display featuring Schorr at the MET, from May 2012.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Maestro David Katz, chief judge of The American Prize, the national, nonprofit competitions in the performing arts, attended the opening night of Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd at the Metropolitan Opera last weekend. During his visit, he viewed the extensive display of photographs of stars of past MET performances of Wagner's Ring Cycle in the MET Gallery, where he was not surprised to see portraits of the legendary baritone, Friedrich Schorr, namesake of The American Prize—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards. Schorr is shown in two of his most famous roles, as Wotan (top) and disguised as the Wanderer (bottom.) 

Also prominently displayed in the MET lobby, and in pride of place (thanks to an accident of the alphabet) is a portrait of Brenda Lewis as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus. (To her left is MET music director, James Levine.) Miss Lewis was recently announced as the first Distinguished Judge Emerita of The American Prize.

To read more about Miss Lewis's extraordinary career, follow this link. 

To read a short biography of Schorr, please scroll down to earlier posts.

Beginning in 1990 and continuing for more than a dozen years, The Friedrich Schorr Memorial Performance Prize in Voice provided a proving ground for literally hundreds of professional singers from throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the British Isles, who won major roles in fully-staged opera productions and oratorio soloist opportunities under Maestro Katz's baton with opera companies and orchestras in Michigan, Maine and Connecticut.

After a hiatus of several years, the Schorr Prize returned in 2010, now under the auspices of The American Prize competitions. Re-named the Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award, the competition has been restructured to recognize and reward vocalists in art song as well as in opera through the evaluation of recorded performances.

Winners of the 2012 Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards will be announced later in May. For previous winners, visit the winners pages on The American Prize website.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Remembering ROBERT SOLLER, OPERA!Lenawee co-founder and Schorr Prize judge

Those of us who knew him note with sadness the passing of Robert Soller, former artistic director of the Croswell Opera House. It was Soller, together with David Katz,  chief judge of The American Prize, who served as the first adjudicator for the Friedrich Schorr Prize, the precursor to The American Prize in Vocal Performance—Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards.

The Friedrich Schorr Prize was the vehicle Katz created to select vocal soloists for productions of OPERA!Lenawee, the professional opera company he and Soller founded in 1990 to bring professional opera to the magnificently restored civil-war-era Croswell Opera House in Adrian, Michigan. OPERA!Lenawee was a unique collaboration between Lenawee County Michigan's two premiere performing arts organizations, the Croswell and the Adrian Symphony Orchestra, where Katz was music director.

Between 1990 and 1995, with Soller as stage director and Katz as conductor, the team produced La Boheme, Die Fledermaus, Carmen, La Traviata and Tosca, with gifted professional casts, selected from thoughout the country through the Schorr Prize contest, bringing live opera to the opera house (and to Lenawee County) for the very first time. Later, with Katz conducting and renowned English soprano Lorna Haywood as stage director, OPERA!Lenawee went on to produce Albert Herring, Madama Butterfly, Gianni Schicchi, I Pagliacci, a semi-staged production of Cosi fan tutte, before a final La Boheme, (this time directed by William Shomos), ten years later, bringing the company full circle.

Here is Katz's remembrance of his friend and colleague:

January 7, 2012

With profound sadness I learn of the passing of my colleague, Bob Soller. We were friends for most of a dozen years, during the period I served the Adrian Symphony Orchestra as music director and principal conductor.

I knew Bob better than most, as together we guided the community to the extraordinary artistic success that was OPERA!Lenawee, the unique collaboration between the ASO & the Croswell Opera House that brought fully-staged, full-length operas to Lenawee County for the first time, and for many successful years. Opera in the opera house was a dream of Bob’s (and mine)—a confluence of place, people and skills that will probably never be repeated.

Robert Soller was—and rightly should be remembered—as a Lenawee legend (whether he liked it or not—and he definitely would not). He was complicated, brilliant, cantankerous, passionate, moody, witty, conflicted, and extraordinarily talented. In other words, he was everything a true artist usually is.

A month ago, knowing of his illness, I wrote to him, to thank him for the quality of his vision—displayed on countless opening nights; for his courage—especially when Adrian turned towards opera; for hundreds of conversations spanning much of a decade—each filled with intensity, potential, and laughter; and for decades of hard work done well.

There were nights I spent with Bob Soller that are among the proudest of my life—and if there were bumps, they can’t upend what was accomplished where no one thought it possible.

Across years and miles, dreams fulfilled and not, I think of Bob Soller today with admiration and affection in equal portion, and for all time.

David Katz, former music director and principal conductor
Adrian Symphony Orchestra & OPERA!Lenawee
chief judge, The American Prize