2018 Winners and Semi-finalists

Introducing the winners and semi-finalists to our first ever Butler Opera International Competition.

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Lee Hyun Sung - Soprano, Winner 

Soprano Lee Hyun Sung hails from Seoul, South Korea. Previous roles include Alice in Falstaff, and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi with Butler School of Music, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw, and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte with Merkava Singers, and Nursing sister in Suor Angelica with The New School for Music, and Gilda in Rigoletto with Seoul National


She performed cantatas and oratorios in New York, Austin, and Seoul. Previous

performances were Die Shöpfung by J. Haydn, Gloria by A. Vivaldi, Messiah Christmas portion by G. F. Händel, and Vesperae by W. A. Mozart. She is a winner of Butler Opera International Competition in the United States, and semi-finalist of Mt. Fuji International Opera Competition in Japan.


She won the Korea Voice Competition, Sejong-Maekyung Competition, Seil Korean Art Songs Competition, Ewha-Kyung Hyang Music Competition, Sung-Jung Music Competition, Hanyang Competition, Kyungwon Competition in South Korea. She is DMA student of Opera department in the University of Texas at Austin.

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Mariya Kaganskaya - Mezzo Soprano, Winner

Russian-American Mezzo-Soprano Mariya Kaganskaya will return to the Studio Artist Program at Florida Grand Opera in the 2018-19 Season, performing the roles of Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Mrs. Rockefeller and Natalia (Frida), and Käthchen (Werther), and study-covering the role of Charlotte (Werther).


In Summer 2017, she returned as a second-year Apprentice Singer to the Santa Fe Opera, where she premiered the role of Teacher in The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, covered the role of Amelfa in The Golden Cockerel, and was featured in Justice at the Opera, hosted by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She then joined the Florida Grand Opera Studio for the 2017-18 Season, performing the roles of Page (Salome) and Paula (Florencia en el Amazonas) and study-covering the role of Herodias (Salome).

Visit her website at www.mariyakaganskaya.com.

Sangmoon Lee - Tenor, Winner

Tenor, Sangmoon Lee, debuted as Nemorino in L’elisir d’Amore by G.Donizetti with the Busan National University at 19 years old. In 2010, Mr. Lee played Nemorino again with the Changwon National University, and played Tamino in ‘Die Zauberflöte’ by W.A.Mozart the next year. In 2014, Mr. Lee played Taesul-Kim in the Korean opera, ‘The Hill of Chungna’ by Sungjae-Kim. Composer, Sungjae-Kim, said of Mr. Lee that “He is the best actor and singer I have ever met. He will be a great opera singer”. Mr. Lee performed Prince Ramiro in ‘La Cenerentola’ by G. Rossini, School Master in ‘The Cunning Little Vixen’ by L. Janáček and Belfiore in ‘La Finta Giardiniera’ by W.A.Mozart with the New England Conservatory.

Additionally, Mr. Lee performed Ferrando in ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’ by W.A.Mozart, was a member of the Male Chorus in ‘The Rape of Lucretia’ by B.Britten and Bardolfo in ‘Falstaff’ by G.Verdi. Mr. Lee will be performing Tito from ‘La Clemenza di Tito’ by W.A.Mozart in October 2018. Mr. Lee’s opera scene work includes ‘L’elisir d’Amore’s Nemorino with the New England Conservatory. Mr. Lee won the bronze award at The Gaecheon Art Competition in Korea. Mr. Lee received his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Changwon National University, his Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Changwon National University and New England Conservatory, and currently working on his doctorate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.


 Brandon Morales - Baritone, Finalist

Bass-Baritone Brandon Morales, has performed with Opera Companies all over the US stretching from Portland Opera in Oregon to Virginia Opera on the East coast. Career highlights include the title role of Don Giovanni, Escamillo in Carmen, Polyphemus in Acis and Galatea, and Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro. A graduate of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Morales has been highly active in the Ohio State area performing with Dayton Opera, NANO Works, Cincinnati Chamber Opera, Queen City Chamber Opera, Clermont Philharmonic/Opera, Cincinnati College-Conservatory, Cincinnati Opera, and most recently Opera Project Columbus.

He has also been a featured soloist for Cincinnati Youth Symphony Orchestra and Voices of the Commonwealth chorus in Northern Kentucky. Other works include performing the role of Dr. Malatesta in Alamo City Opera’s Don Pasquale, and the roles of Friedrich von Telramund in Lohengrin and the Dutchman in Die Fliegende Holländer in concert with the Wagner Society of Cincinnati, where he is now part of their blooming Wagner studio. Morales has recently completed his first year as an Emerging Artist with Virginia Opera, and will be returning in the fall for roles in three of the Opera's upcoming productions.

Visit his website at www.cbrandonmorales.com,

Hidenouri Inoue - Bass, Finalist

Hidenori Inoue is a Bass from Himeji, Japan, known principally for his strong vocal technique and flexibility of repertoire, as well as articulate acting skill. Singing the role of Timur in Turandot, Hidenori made his debut with Tulsa Opera this season, and will perform his first Leporello in Don Giovanni with Opera Steamboat on August 2018.


Upcoming performances for the 2018–2019 season include Makoto Kobayashi in Jack Perla’s An American Dream with Anchorage Opera, Bonze in Madama Butterfly with Virginia Opera, and a return performance as Don Giovanni’s Commendatore with Tulsa Opera. He will debut with Opera Omaha as Bonze in Madama Butterfly in the 2019-2020 season.

In a robust 2017–2018 season, Hidenori covered the role of Méphistophéles in Faust with Tulsa Opera; he also sang as Makoto Kobayashi in Perla’s An American Dream (East coast premiere) with Opera Maine, Barone in La Traviata with Opera Maine, Padre Guardiano and Marquis in Verdi’s La forza del destino with the New Amsterdam Opera; and Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola with New York City’s ARE Opera.


The 2016–2017 season saw Hidenori as the eponymous hero of Don Pasquale with the Manhattan School of Music, as well as Pistola in Falstaff with the Italian La Musica Lirica, Benoit and Alcindoro in Puccini’s La Bohème with International Vocal Arts Institute, and as Barbemuche in Leoncavallo’s La Bohème.


Voce di Meche lauded Inoue’s “deeply resonant” and “flawless” performance as Don Magnifico in 2017, writing: “In this wide range of emotion and behavior, there was not a false note, not vocally, not dramatically.” In 2016, Inoue executed the role of Monstre Cathos in Jacques Ibert’s Persée et Andromède with the Manhattan School of Music. Hailed as “the smoky-voiced bass” by The New York Times and “assertive” by Opera News, this performance was listed in The New York Times as one of the Top 10 Vocal Performances of 2016.


Hidenori Inoue is the finalist of 2018 Jensen Foundation’s competition and Butler Opera International Competition. He holds a Bachelor of Law degree from Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, and a Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music

Visit his website at hidenoriinoue.com.


Anna Dugan - Soprano, Semi-Finalist

Visit her website at annadugansoprano.com.



Brandon Russell - Tenor, Semi-Finalist

 Visit his website at BrandonScottRussell.com.


Daewon Seo - Baritone, Semi-Finalist



Seunghee Lee - Bass, Semi-Finalist