Scroll to top


LFPR - March 5, 2020 - 0 comments

CHICAGO, IL – March 5, 2020 – For the 14th consecutive year, acclaimed operatic Baritone Sherrill Milnes along with his wife, soprano Maria Zouves, will return to the Midwest for the annual Opera Idol vocal competition near Chicago, Illinois.

This highly-anticipated event – which draws aspiring, young opera singers from around the country – will be held at Three Crowns Park, a retirement community that offers exceptional amenities, services and residential choices. The neighborhood was founded 120 years ago and continues to attract active seniors, eager to take advantage of the wonderful quality of life offered by Three Crowns Park. The rising stars take center stage to showcase their talents at 7 p.m. Friday, March 6. The venue is located at 2323 McDaniel Ave. in Evanston, Ill.

Opera Idol was conceived by Milnes and Zouves as part of their non-profit vocal training organization, VOICExperience Foundation, when the two served as faculty at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. The contest showcases and encourages budding opera stars in a format that emulates popular television shows featuring talent searches.

“We love to interview the singers as part of the competition” enthuses Zouves. “We and the audience really get an insight into the different dimensions of their vocal talent and it is valuable for the participants.”

Five aspiring classical singers will compete in a Master Class format, in front of a closed audience – Three Crowns residents only – for one full scholarship to a summer VOICExperience program. The winner, selected by a panel of judges, will receive a full scholarship plus airfare to Savannah, Georgia, to attend the Milnes VOICE Studio in August. Mary Burkhardt Lysaught is donating the grand prize valued at $3000, via The Tom Lysaught Scholarship Fund, which is in honor of Mary’s late husband.

“My husband used to love hearing young opera singers, and so the scholarship is being awarded in his name. Maria and Sherrill have been close to me for many years, so I’m more than happy to support this initiative,” Lysaught said.

In addition to the Opera Idol vocal competition, Three Crown audience members will also be given a chance to vote for the “People’s Choice” award. The winning singer will be awarded a $1000 scholarship to go towards the cost of participating in VOICExperience 2020 summer training programs.

Milnes, who celebrates his 85th birthday this year, is a John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music Emeritus, and Zouves, who taught the opera workshop as adjunct, joined Northwestern’s faculty after Milnes concluded a long career on all the major stages of the operatic world, including the Metropolitan Opera, where he was the leading baritone for over three decades.

“I hold music education degrees and always considered teaching and passing the baton of vocal excellence onto the next generation as vitally important,” Milnes said.

This mission led Milnes and Zouves to found VOICExperience twenty years ago and, subsequently, Opera Idol. They were sought after and brought to the university by faculty member and at that time, former Dean of the Bienen School of Music and co-sponsor of Opera Idol, Dr. Bernard Dobroski, who – along with his wife, Sally – is sponsoring the “People’s Choice” award.

For more information on Opera Idol or VOICExperience, please call 855-76-OPERA or visit

– ENDS –

EDITOR’S NOTE: The VOICExperience Foundation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization whose mission is to pass on the traditions of great singing and develop new audiences for opera. Under the umbrella of The Sherrill Milnes VOICE Programs, VOICExperience continues its dedication to the quality, integrity and perpetuation of the vocal arts through life-changing intensives, performances, and community-enriching outreach events in New York, Georgia (with its sister organization, the Savannah VOICE Festival), Florida and Illinois. For more information, please visit

For media inquiries please contact Kristyn Fielding at or 229-393-6457 or Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950 or the team at LFPR on 912-417-5377.