Finally, a Rossini competition in the United States

The smiling gentleman is none other than the legendary Rockwell Blake and the woman is Guadalupe Paz, winner of the competition.

Below she is pictured with the “fathers of the competition”, Bruce Johansen and Michael Cressey.


The first ever Rossini competition in the United States was held in California on November 13-14.

The competition was the brain-child of the president, Bruce Johansen, and artistic director, Mick Cressey of the Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert.

Some may think this is an unlikely place for such a competition, but both Johansen and Cressey are big Rossini fans, as well as being frequent visitors to the Rossini Opera Festival ( and members of the Friends of the Rossini Opera Festival)

Furthermore, the Guild, ( co-founded in 1968 by Lily Pons) has had a long-standing vocal competition whose winners include many singers with international careers, such as Sondra Radvanovksy and more recently Angela Meade.

The competition came to life as a result of the dynamic enthusiasm of Bruce and Mick along with the encouragement and support of the ROF family. Rockwell Blake, a mainstay of ROF for many years agreed to be a judge, and Alberto Zedda kindly agreed to offer artistic advice. Blake was joined by tenor, Henry Price known to many New York City opera fans.

There were many promising participants, which bodes well for the future of the competition.

The winner was Guadalupe Paz, whose name might be familiar to ROF guests because she was a member of the Accademia Rossiniana in 2008 and appeared in Viaggo a Reims. She will be singing in the first performance ever of Il Viaggio a Reims in Mexico next year.

The Peggy Cravens Rossini award ( named after its generous benefactor) was presented in conjunction with the Guild’s 32nd annual Vocal competition on Sunday, December 6, in Rancho Mirage CA. Among the guests were Valeria Rumori, from the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles.

Bravo to everyone involved in this endeavor, which is a wonderful and auspicious start to the Rossini Project.