Houston Grand Opera has announced the eight finalists for its 2013 Concert of Arias competition. Many of the finalists of Concert of Arias go on to be members of Houston Grand Opera Studio, and then have successful careers. So it is an opportunity for friends of Houston performing arts to see some of the rising stars of the opera world, as they begin to enter the public arena.
HGO Concert of Arias 2013 Finalists Press Release:
Houston Grand Opera Announces Finalists for Concert of Arias 2013
Houston, TX. – February 4, 2013: Houston Grand Opera today announced the finalists for the annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers Concert of Arias, to be presented in the Cullen Theater on Thursday, February 7, at 7 p.m.
This year’s finalists are:
Soprano: Sydney Mancasola
Mezzo-sopranos: Sarah Larsen, Margaret Mezzacappa
Tenor: Rafael Moras
Baritones: Christian Bowers, Efraín Solís
Bass-baritones: Calvin Griffin, Thomas Richards
Now in its twenty-fifth year, Concert of Arias is the final round of the annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers. Each finalist will perform two arias and compete for $30,000 in cash prizes. The purpose of the competition is to identify potential candidates for HGO Studio fellowships.
This year HGO received more than six hundred and seven applications from singers and thirty-four applications from pianists. Auditions were conducted in San Francisco, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York, and Houston.
The judging panel will be led by HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers and HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech. Serving as guest judge is renowned American composer and HGO Studio co-founder Carlisle Floyd. Finalists will be accompanied by HGO Associate Music Director Eric Melear.
Many past winners of Concert of Arias have gone on to become members of HGO’s Studio program including Joyce DiDonato, Richard Paul Fink, Albina Shagimuratova, Ana María Martínez, and Ryan McKinny, to name but a few.
Each of the young artists in the HGO Studio have access to a learning environment that places emphasis on practical experience within the professional opera world. This includes vocal tuition and coaching sessions with industry professionals, small supporting and/or study roles in HGO main stage productions, as well as a variety of concert engagements.
This year’s Concert of Arias, chaired by Donna and Robert Bruni, honors Marianne and David Duthu for their many years of generous support of HGO. The honorary chairs are Studio co-founders Carlisle Floyd and David Gockley, HGO’s general director from 1972 to 2005. The evening begins with a champagne reception at 6 p.m. The competition will commence at 7 p.m. in the Wortham Theater Center’s Cullen Theater and will also feature performances by current artists of the HGO Studio. Former mayor of New York City and opera lover Rudy Giuliani will participate in the evening's activities as a special guest. Following the competition artists, patrons, and underwriters will be seated for dinner catered by esteemed caterer Jackson and Company in the Grand Foyer.
The competition awards will be presented by the Methodist Hospital System, the official health care provider for Houston Grand Opera. The audience also has the opportunity to participate in the evening’s events when they choose their favorite singer for the Audience Choice Award.
All proceeds from Concert of Arias 2013 benefit The Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers and Houston Grand Opera Studio’s ongoing outreach efforts to identify, attract, and nurture young artists who have the potential for major careers in opera.
Individual tickets for the concert are available for $36. For ticket and general information, call 713-228-OPERA or view online at HoustonGrandOpera.org
Sydney Mancasola, soprano
Lyric coloratura, Sydney Mancasola, is currently a resident artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the summer of 2012, Sydney was an apprentice at Santa Fe Opera, where she covered the role of Zdenka in Arabella, and received the Judith Raskin Memorial Award for Singers. In 2012, Ms. Mancasola received awards from several prestigious competitions, including a career development grant from the Sullivan Foundation, encouragement awards from the Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition and the George London Foundation Competition, and was a regional finalist and encouragement award recipient of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Other awards and achievements include third place in the WRTI broadcast poll of the Giargiari Bel Canto Competition, second prize in the Florida Grand Opera Young Patronesses Competition, both in 2011, and first place in the Dayton Opera Guild Tri-State Vocal Competition and the Oberlin Conservatory Concerto Competition in 2010. At AVA she has sung Adina in L’elisir d’amore, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande, and Antonia and Stella in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Other roles include, Adele in Die Fledermaus with the Brevard Music Center; Cunégonde in Candide, Servilia in La Clemenza di Tito, and Despina in Così fan tutte with Oberlin Opera Theater; and a cover of Marie in The Daughter of the Regiment with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. In summer of 2013, Sydney will join the Fort Worth Opera in the role of Young Alyce in Glory Denied by contemporary American composer Tom Cipullo. Originally from California, Sydney earned a B.M. in Vocal Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where she was a recipient of the Margot Bos Standler Scholarship. Ms. Mancasola is also an alumna of the Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ Gerdine Young Artist Program, Brevard Music Center’s Janeic Opera Company, and the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program. Equally at home on the concert stage, Sydney has performed Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer, and recently appeared in the 2012 international music festival Calí de Camara in Colombia, South America singing Schubert’s Mass in G, and Mozart’s Exultate, Jubilate.
Sarah Larsen, mezzo-soprano
Currently a 2nd year Young Artist with Seattle Opera, mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen has been featured as Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Mercédès in Carmen and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly on the Seattle Opera mainstage, as well as Giulietta di Kelbar in Verdi’s Un giorno di regno and Charlotte in Werther with the Young Artists Program. She will return to Seattle Opera as the 1st Touriere in Suor Angelica, Maddalena in Rigoletto and the Secretary in The Consul. This summer, Sarah will make her house debut with Des Moines Metro Opera as Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette and Dritte Magde in Elektra. Future concert engagements include a recital in Seattle featuring works by Schumann, Ravel and Rachmaninoff, a debut with the New York Festival of Song in “Song of the Midnight Sun,” (celebrating Scandinavian art song) and the premier of a new song cycle with Music of Remembrance in Seattle by Jake Heggie and Gene Sheer, entitled “Farewell Auschwitz!” Sarah grew up in Roseville, MN and attended Simpson College (B.M. Vocal Performance) and Rice University (M.M. Vocal Performance.) She continued her education with residencies at the Aspen Opera Theater Center, Sarasota Opera, Virginia Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, The Santa Fe Opera and Seattle Opera. Sarah was also a member of the Houston Grand Opera Chorus for Cavalleria rusticana, L’elisir d’amore and Lohengrin.
Margaret Mezzacappa, mezzo-soprano
Margaret Mezzacappa, from Euclid, Ohio, is a fourth-year AVA resident artist. Ms. Mezzacappa is a grand prize winner of the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Other recent awards and achievements include the Sara Tucker Study Grant and the George London Award from the George London Foundation Vocal Competition. In 2011, she received the top prize in the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Vocal Competition, first prize in the Gerda Lissner Foundation Vocal Competition, second prize in the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition, third prize at the Loren L. Zachary Society Vocal Competition, fourth prize in the Giulio Gari Foundation International Vocal Competition, and an encouragement award from the George London Foundation Vocal Competition. At AVA she has sung Geneviéve in Pelléas et Mélisande, Cuniza in a concert version of Oberto, the Mother’s Voice in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, La Principessa in a concert version of Suor Angelica, Frugola in a concert version of Il tabarro, Adelaide in Arabella, Mistress Quickly in Falstaff, Azucena in excerpts from Il trovatore, and the First Wife in The Scarlet Letter. Other engagements include Emilia in Otello with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Azucena in Il trovatore with Opera New Jersey, and a soloist in Beethoven’s 9th with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center. Ms. Mezzacappa holds a B. M. in Music Performance from Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music.
Rafael Moras, tenor
Rafael Moras is a second year graduate student at Rice University, studying with Dr. Stephen King. He earned his Bachelor of Music Degree at the University of Texas at San Antonio in May 2011 under the study of Dr. Diana Allan. He is an NFAA (National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts) Young ARTS Winner, United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and winner of the 51st Annual New York Metropolitan Opera National Council Southwest Region Auditions. As an undergraduate, Moras sang the roles of Frederick in The Pirates of Penzance and Archibald in The Secret Garden. He was a featured student in the NFAA-sponsored HBO documentary series Masterclass under Maestro Plácido Domingo, and was in the Wolf Trap Opera’s 2010 Studio Program. In February of 2011 Mr. Moras sang the role of Gonzalve in L'heure espagnole for the Houston Symphony’s "Ravel's Spain with Bolero" program and was a member of the Houston Grand Opera’s 2011 Young Artists Vocal Academy. Moras sang the role of Ferrando in the Shepherd School’s 2011 production of Così fan tutte, Roméo and Rodolfo in Rice University’s “Romance X 3” Centennial Gala, and Bonario in the university’s 2012 production of Volpone. In 2011 Moras sang Fenton in the Aspen Opera Theater Center’s production of Falstaff, and he returned there to sing Tom Buchanan in the AOTC’s 2011 production of The Great Gatsby. This spring he will sing the role of Lurcanio in Rice University’s production of Ariodante.
Christian Bowers, baritone
Christian Bowers is currently a third year resident artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, PA. He was a young artist with Santa Fe opera for the past two seasons where he performed the roles of Sciarrone in Tosca and covered the title role of Abdul in Menotti’s The Last Savage. Upcoming performances include Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera for the Academy of Vocal Arts and in April he will also makes his professional debut as Masetto in Don Giovanni with Opera Colorado. Mr. Bowers recently won second prize in the Mario Lanza vocal competition. He was also a district winner at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition in Philadelphia the last two years. During the 2010 Winter Season he was a young artist with Sarasota Opera, and he has performed numerous times as a Studio Artist in Opera Delaware’s Studio Artist Series. His roles include Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Belcore in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, Belaev/Rakitin in Lee Hoiby’s A Month in the Country, Count Danilo in Lehár’s The Merry Widow, Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Marcello in Puccini’s La Bohème, Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the Clock/Cat in Ravel’s L'enfant et les Sortilèges, and Ipparco in Cavalli’s L’egisto, King Melchior in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, Second Commissioner in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, Count Dominik and Lamoral in Strauss’s Arabella and Ottone in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea. He has coached with Christofer Macatsoris, Louis Salemno, Victor DeRenzi, Danielle Orlando, David Lofton, Richard Raub, Laurent Phillipe, Ghenady Meirson, Luke Housner, Richard Cordova, Anna Frey, Hugh Murphy, and Joan Krueger. Mr. Bowers had the distinct pleasure of collaborating with American composer Lee Hoiby from 2007 until his passing in 2011. Mr. Bowers is a recipient of a double Masters of Music in Opera and Vocal Performance from Temple University under the guidance of William Stone. He also holds a Bachelor of Music from the State University of New York (S.U.N.Y) at Purchase College Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Jacque Trussel.
Efraín Solís, baritone
A native of Orange County, CA, Efraín Solís has performed a variety of roles including the title role in Eugene Onegin with Russian Opera Workshop in Philadelphia, Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and Figaro in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro with Operafestival di Roma in Italy. At the San Francisco Conservatory of Music he has performed the title role in Don Giovanni, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, and recently the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi . In the spring of 2013 he will be covering the role of Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale as a Studio Artist with Opera Santa Barbara and singing Junius in The Rape of Lucretia for the Merola Opera Program. Efraín is the 1st place recipient of the East Bay Opera League Scholarship Competition and the 2nd place recipient of the Dorothy Van Waynen Vocal Competition. He is also a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Western Region and will be competing in the 2013 National Semi-Finals. In 2011, under the instruction of Dr. Peter Atherton, Efraín received his Bachelor's Degree in Vocal Performance from Chapman University's Conservatory of Music. Currently Efraín is studying at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of César Ulloa.
Calvin Griffin, bass-baritone
Calvin Griffin, a native of Columbus, Ohio, is a second year graduate student at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music under the tutelage of Dr. Stephen King. At The Shepherd School, Mr. Griffin was recently seen in the title role of the Houston premier of John Musto’s Volpone. Additionally, he performed the roles of Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, Frank in Act 1 of Die Fledermaus, and Colline in Act 1 of La bohème. This spring, he will be seen as Polinesso in The Shepherd School’s production of Ariodante and will also be making his Houston Symphony debut as First Apprentice in Wozzeck under the baton of Maestro Hans Graf. Last summer, as an Apprenticed Artist at Des Moines Metro Opera, he covered the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni. He was a Studio Artist at The Wolf Trap Opera Company, as well as a participant at the Brevard Music Festival. This summer, Mr. Griffin will be singing the title role in Gianni Schicchi at the Aspen Music Festival. Mr. Griffin received his Bachelor’s Degree from The Ohio State University where he performed the roles of Superintendent Budd in Albert Herring, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, and Gustavo in Faramondo. In concert, Mr. Griffin has performed the baritone solos in Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem at The Ohio State University, as well as Worthington United Methodist Church. He was also the bass soloist in the Mozart Requiem at Terra Community College and the bass soloist in The Messiah at Bluffton University. In competition, Mr. Griffin has won 1st Place in the Tuesday Musical Club Competition in San Antonio, 1st Place in the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition, and was awarded a Central Region Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Encouragement Award. He was also a winner in the College-Conservatory’s Corbett Competition and was awarded the Linda Candler Award at the Brevard Music Center.
Thomas Richards, bass-baritone
Bass-baritone Thomas Richards is a native of Burnsville, Minnesota and a current Artist Diploma student at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a 2012 graduate of the CCM Master of Music program. Recently Thomas has performed the role of Dr. Bartolo in CCM Opera’s 2011 production of Le Nozze di Figaro, Leporello for CCM Opera’s 2012 production of Don Giovanni, Frank Maurrant in CCM Opera’s 2012 production of Street Scene, and Colline in La Bohѐme at the Central City Opera Festival in Central City, Colorado.