8 vocalists to compete in finals Sunday

Opera: Audience members may cast ballots for their favorite soloist during the free event.

January 30, 2003|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Fans of classical singing can vote for their favorites among the eight young competitors and try to outguess the professional judges on hand Sunday afternoon at the Annapolis Opera 15th Annual Vocal Competition Finals Concert at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.

Not only will the audience be able to cast ballots to determine the "Audience Favorite Award" from among the finalists after last weekend's competition, which narrowed the selection to eight, but they will enjoy the suspense of anticipating who will be chosen the first-place winner.

This will be an afternoon that showcases young talent, including soloists from the Naval Academy, who will entertain while the judges deliberate. And everyone will be able to enjoy this afternoon of beautiful music at no cost.

The vocal competition has been a favorite event for Annapolis Opera subscribers and devotees of classical singing for the past 15 years, half of the company's existence.

Again this year, the event is offered to the public at no charge through a grant from the Helena Foundation. No tickets will be issued, and there will be no assigned seating, except for a section reserved for donors. For best seat selection, it is suggested that audience members arrive well before the 3 p.m. start of the program.

This year's competition drew 75 singers, the most ever, said an Annapolis Opera spokesperson. Last weekend's panel of three judges chose the eight finalists from applicants 18 to 35 who had been recommended by local coaches or teachers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and Washington.

All contestants are required to sing two arias from the group of five they have prepared -- one of their own choice, another to be chosen by the judges. Singers are encouraged to select arias that demonstrate their technical skill and vocal expressiveness in a trio of languages. Stage presence is another important consideration.

The eight singers participating in the finals consist of four sopranos, one mezzo-soprano, two tenors and one baritone. Soprano Lorraine Hinds has selected arias from Gioachino Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Vincenzo Belini's I Puritani, Jules Massenet's Manon, Gian Carlo Menotti's The Medium and Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes.

Soprano Toni Stefano has chosen arias from Giachimo Puccini's Tosca and La Boheme, Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, Georges Bizet's Carmen and Carlisle Floyd's Susannah.

Soprano Rayanne Gonzales chose arias from Mozart's Don Giovanni, Puccini's Turandot and La Boheme, Charles Gounod's Faust and George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.

Soprano Lori Lind selected arias from Belini's Norma, Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus, Guiseppe Verdi's La Traviata, Puccini's La Boheme and Floyd's Susannah.

Tenor Dongwon Shin chose arias by Puccini, Verdi, Leoncavallo and Massenet. Tenor Jason Ferrante will offer from a selection of arias by Verdi, Handel, Mozart and Donizetti.

Mezzo-soprano Margaret Anne Helmick has chosen three Mozart arias, one by Massenet and one from Vanessa by Samuel Barber.

Baritone Timothy Scott Mix will offer arias from works by Verdi, Massenet, Tchaikovsky and Floyd.

The eight finalists who will perform in the Vocal Competition Finale Concert all will receive cash awards ranging from $300 through the grand prize of $1,600.

When the Annapolis Opera folks promise the audience they will hear "stars of tomorrow" they speak from experience. Several past vocal competition award winners have gone on to appear in Annapolis Opera productions.

Angela Fout, winner of the 2000 competition, later starred as Fiordiligi in Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte and as Rosalinde in this season's Die Fledermaus. Vocal competition winner Daeson No sang the title role in the fall 2000 production of Verdi's Rigoletto with Lori Hultgren -- another former competition winner singing the role of Maddalena in the same production.

This vocal competition has been described as "a well-stocked pipeline of young talent" -- something surely to sing about and enjoy before these talented young singers move upward to command fees befitting their talent and beyond the price of this Sunday's concert.

For further information, call the Annapolis Opera office at 410-267-8135 or visit the Web site at www.annapolisopera.org.

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