The 31st Annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers occurs February 1
Houston, January 29, 2019 —Houston Grand Opera (HGO) has selected the finalists for the 31st annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers Concert of Arias, to be presented in the Wortham Theater Center on February 1, 2019, at 7 p.m. The program will also be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube for all to enjoy, inviting viewers to cast their votes for the Online Viewers’ Choice Award.
This year’s finalists are:
· Soprano: Anna Dugan, Yunuet Laguna, Elena Villalón
· Mezzo-soprano: Katherine DeYoung
· Tenor: Angel Romero
· Bass-baritone: Nicholas Newton
· Basses: William Meinert, William Guanbo Su
The competition and its final round, the Concert of Arias, are held annually to identify candidates for HGO’s internationally acclaimed Studio program, which nurtures young artists who have the potential for major careers in opera. Past prize winners who are now artists on the international stage include Jamie Barton, Joyce DiDonato, Ana María Martínez, Ryan McKinny, and Tamara Wilson.
Now in its 31st year, the competition received 525 applications from singers around the world. Auditions were conducted in November and December 2018.
After careful consideration, 14 semifinalists were chosen to come to Houston for further rounds of the prestigious competition. The field of semifinalists was narrowed to eight finalists January 28. The selected finalists will have the opportunity to learn more about HGO and work with HGO music staff leading up to the Concert of Arias, in which they will perform two arias each, competing for up to $10,000 in cash prizes. Finalists will be accompanied by Kirill Kuzmin, HGO assistant conductor.
Two of the eight finalists are alumni of HGO’s Young Artists Vocal Academy (YAVA), a week-long course established in 2011 to give talented undergraduates an introduction to the information and training they will need to develop careers in opera.
The judging panel will be led by HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers and HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech, with guest judge Lawrence Brownlee. For the fifth year, world-renowned soprano and HGO Studio alumna Ana María Martínez will select a finalist to receive her encouragement award. Audience members also have the opportunity to participate in the evening’s events when they cast their votes for the Audience Choice Award. Proceeds from Concert of Arias 2019 benefit the Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers and the Houston Grand Opera Studio.
This is the third year the Concert of Arias will be streamed live on Facebook, and the second for livestreaming on YouTube. The livestream will be hosted by HGO Studio alumna Andrea Carroll. She is currently performing in The Pearl Fishers as Leïla and placed first in the 2012 Concert of Arias. Carroll will interview former HGO Studio artists and HGO staff throughout the evening. The winner will be announced during the second portion of the program along with the other winners.
This year’s Concert of Arias is chaired by Elizabeth and Richard Husseini. The evening begins with a champagne reception at 6 p.m., and the vocal competition commences at 7 p.m. Current HGO Studio artists will also perform. Following the concert, artists, patrons, and underwriters will be seated for a dinner.
Since its inception 42 years ago, the HGO Studio has grown to be one of the most respected young artist programs in the country. Each of the young artists in the HGO Studio has access to a learning environment that emphasizes practical experience within the professional opera world. This includes regular coaching sessions with industry professionals, roles in HGO mainstage productions, recital performances, and a variety of other concert engagements.