Round Top, New York. August 24 – Competition, definition: A test of skill or ability; a contest, as for a profit or prize.

Adhering to the theme, “Jealousy in Opera,” 18 young singers from around the world competed for prestige and cash prizes before a sold-out audience of opera devotees, music lovers and a renowned jury at the Altamura/Caruso International Voice Competition in Round Top, New York. On Sunday afternoon, bass-baritone Todd Donovan captured the 3rd place, $3,500 prize after his arias by Puccini and Verdi held the hall spellbound.

A native of St. Petersburg, Mr. Donovan received his bachelor’s degree from Eckerd College and his master’s degree from the Dallas Theological Seminary in Texas. He pursued private voice studies with Richard Torigi.

In recent years, area audiences have heard him perform the role of Leporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at St. Petersburg Opera, and in Samuel Barber’s Dover Beach, a work for solo voice and string quartet, presented on the Palladium Theater’s “Encore Series.”

When asked if he thought the teaching of classical music should be restored in American public schools on a daily basis, he responded, “Absolutely. I was exposed to classical music in middle school and it changed the direction of my life.”

And Mr. Donovan walks the talk. For several years, he has participated in the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center’s outreach programs. He is currently involved in a program called “Opera-tunities” that brings opera into public schools, from elementary to high school. “It’s been a huge success,” he said.

Where would he like to be in five years? “I would like to keep my current position in my church as Pastor of Worship and Fine Arts, to which I am committed, while accepting singing engagements in a much wider geographical area.”

Members of the competition’s internationally-renowned jury were Carmela Altamura, competition founder and soprano recitalist; Mark Sforzini, Artistic Director and Conductor, St. Petersburg Opera; Camille Coppola, stage director and founder, New Rochelle (New York) Opera; and Anton Coppola (no relation), conductor, composer of opera and film, and director of Tampa Opera. Maestro Coppola, who is the uncle of famed Academy Award-winning film directors Francis Ford Coppola and Sophia Coppola, composed the film scores for the Godfather III and Dracula, among others.

Reflecting on the international scope and growth of the competition in its 20th anniversary year, founder and soprano Carmela Altamura said, “I was an immigrant to this country when I was 8 years old. Later, as a winner of a Metropolitan Opera Guild Award, I was given an opportunity. Others helped me and now it’s my turn to help others. In this competition, we’ve had some of the finest young talents in the world. They’ve come from Moscow and Rome, Hawaii and the Ukraine, Israel and Canada and beyond. They are the crème de la crème, and it is our honor and privilege to help them.”

Achieving one of many goals in his meaningful and musical life, Todd Donovan walked onstage to share his talent and walked off with the prize. If “coming events cast their shadows…,” he will use his talent wisely and well.