Opera Student Wins Prestigious Award at The Dallas Opera Competition

Graduate vocal performance student Bethany Jelinek receives the Jonathan Pell People’s Choice Award at The Dallas Opera Guild Biennial Lone Star Vocal Competition.

Graduate student Bethany Jelinek wins People's Choice Award in Dallas Opera Competition
Graduate student Bethany Jelinek wins People's Choice Award at Dallas Opera Competition.

Bethany Jelinek (B.M. ’21), an alumna of the Meadows’ undergraduate vocal performance program and current graduate student of the same discipline, won the prestigious Jonathan Pell People’s Choice Award at The Dallas Opera Guild Biennial Lone Star Vocal Competition.


The Dallas Opera Competition, which was held at the Winspear Opera House last week, is a statewide competition that supports emerging Texas singers for their future success in opera and offers them an opportunity to showcase their talents on the Winspear stage. Its award winners are considered some of the most outstanding young artists of their generation and Jelinek’s prize has garnered great pride from her vocal professors.


“Scoring a win in the rigorous Dallas Opera Competition is huge considering the resumes of the other competitors,” says vocal performance professor Dale Dietert. “Bethany is one of the most talented students that I have ever taught, and it has been my honor and privilege to teach her for the past six years. I predict that she will have a very bright future in her singing career!”


Bethany Jelinek poses on stage with fellow award winners of The Dallas Opera Competition

Jelinek, far left, poses with her fellow award winners at the Dallas Opera Competition on March 31.

But Jelinek’s vocal career has not always been smooth sailing. During her freshman year at Meadows, she was diagnosed with a polyp on her vocal fold and was ultimately put on vocal rest for the reminder of the academic year. Following a surgery to remove the polyp, Jelinek spent the next year rebuilding her voice and credits both Dietert and Director of Lyric Theatre Hank Hammett as the reason she was able to regain her vocal health and find her passion for opera.


By Jelinek’s junior year she was cast in her first lead role in an opera, Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan tutte, and cites this as the production that cemented her love for opera. During her master’s program, she has performed in two more Meadows mainstage opera productions: Robert Ward's The Crucible and Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia.


Graduate student Bethany Jelinek performs in Mozart's Così fan tutte

Jelinek, far left, sings in her first lead role as Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan tutte.

The culmination of Jelinek’s hard work led her to her first professional competition in The Dallas Opera Guild Biennial Lone Star Vocal Competition. The first part of the competition took place on March 30, where competitors sang in the hall of the Winspear Opera House for a panel of judges. After being named a finalist following her performance in the first round, she had the opportunity to sing on the stage the next evening for an audience. Fittingly, she was asked to sing the aria "Come Scoglio” from Così fan tutte for the performance, a selection from the first opera in which she'd ever sung a lead role.


“It felt perfectly appropriate that this aria would be the beginning of my transition from student to professional,” says Jelinek. Ultimately, she was awarded the Jonathan Pell People’s Choice Award, which was determined by audience vote, for her remarkable performance. “I've been walking on air ever since. There is a special honor in being chosen by 'the people'.”


Jelinek will graduate in May with her master’s degree in vocal performance and plans to pursue a professional future in opera. She says, “the competition was an incredible learning experience, and I'm looking forward to seeing where this crazy career path takes me!”