Annapolis Opera closed its season May 16 with its annual vocal competition. At Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, the audience heard eight vocalists selected from more than 80 applicants who vied for $10,000 in prize money plus a study trip to Italy's Amalfi Coast.
The competition boasted an unusual preponderance of male singers — three baritones, one bass, one tenor and one countertenor, with one mezzo-soprano and only one soprano in what is usually a crowded category.
Marking another first was the inclusion of a countertenor. Bryan DeSilva impressed in the highest vocal range with the aria "Che faro senza" from Gluck's "Orfeo and Euridice," and "Svegliatevi nel core" from Handel's "Giulio Cesare." He recieved the $500 Todd Duncan Award.
Soprano Carrieanne Winter offered Gilda's "Caro nome" from Verdi's "Rigoletto" and the challenging Olympia's song from Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffman," bringing her stellar vocal and acting talents to both arias and earning her the $600 Links of Annapolis Award.
Tenor Rolando Sanz created a stir in the audience when he sang "Che gelida manina" from Puccini's "La Boheme" before "Dies bildnis ist bezaubernd schon" from Mozart's "Magic Flute." As the only contestant judges asked to sing a third aria, Sanz delivered a gorgeous "Amore ti vieta" from Giordano's "Fedora" to prove his versatility and worthiness of the three grand prizes, as well as the Audience Choice Award.
Sanz won the grand prize of $2,500, the Grace Marion Gelinas Clark Award, the Director/Conductor Award of $500, and this year for the first time the Helena Foundation Grand Prize Award trip to the Amalfi Coast Music Festival and Institute, which includes a two-week vocal program in July.
Second prize, the $2,000 William Boldyga Incentive Award, was given to mezzo-soprano Cynthia Hanna, who displayed a lustrous voice of compelling beauty and power in selections from Tchaikovsky's "Pique Dame" and Donizetti's "La Favorita."
Third prize, the $1,500 Hughes Award, went to bass Adam Fry, who sang a delightfully comic "La calunnia" from Rossini's "Barber of Seville" and a pleasing "Man that is born of a woman" from Herrmann's "Wuthering Heights."
Fourth prize, the $1,000 Harry Lindauer Award, went to baritone Kevin Wetzel, who proved an interesting Belcore in Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'amore" and a dramatic Silvio in Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci."
Baritone Jarrett Ott, who sang Count Almaviva's "Hai gia vinta la causa!" from Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro" and "Avant de quitter ces lieux" from Gounod's "Faust," won the $500 Severn Town Club Award.
Annapolis Opera typically presents one fully staged opera, three concerts of operatic arias, a children's opera and a vocal competition. All major events are created and conducted by Annapolis Opera artistic director Ronald J. Gretz.
The company's 38th season starts Oct. 23 at the Key Auditorium at St. John's College with a "Concert of Stars" headed by Eastport resident and Metropolitan Opera baritone Jason Stearns, who has been praised for his compelling portrayals of such leading operatic roles as the Flying Dutchman in major world opera houses. He will be joined by tenor Jon Burton, who sang Cavaradossi in Annapolis Opera's "Tosca" to critical acclaim, and soprano Colleen Daly, who proved an audience favorite in Annapolis Opera's "Very Verdi" concert last October.
The annual holiday program, "Gifts from Grand Opera," will be presented at First Presbyterian Church in Annapolis at 3 p.m. Dec. 5.
A Peabody production of "Hansel and Gretel" will be the annual children's opera. It is scheduled for Feb. 3 at Maryland Hall for schools and at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 5 for the general public.
This season's fully staged opera will be Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," March 11 and 13 at Maryland Hall. The cast will include Jerett Gieseler (Scarpia in Annapolis Opera's March production of "Tosca") as Spanish nobleman Count Almaviva, Ryan D. Kuster ("Tosca's" Angelotti) will be the Count's major-domo Figaro, and Andrew Adelsberger ("Tosca's" Sacristan) will be the gardener Antonio. Two favorites from the "Opera Lite" concert that capped the 2010 season, bass-baritone Stephanos Tsirakoglou and soprano Corinne Winters, will portray Dr. Bartolo and Susanna, respectively
The vocal competition will be at 2 p.m. April 10 at Maryland Hall, and the season closes with an "Opera Amore" concert celebrating spring with arias, duets and ensembles about love at St. John's Key Auditorium on May 21.
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