2013 Giargiari Bel Canto

The Academy of Vocal Arts Giargiari Bel Canto Competition  Oct. 4 in the Perelman Theater was particularly impressive because of the number of singers just starting their residency and performing with such skill and seasoned stage presence right away.

(photo: Paul Sirochman)

One of the best things about the competition is the camaraderie and the attitude among the singers that though it is an important award, it’s still just one performance, not a make or break proposition.

The pressure to success is on though with the panel of judges (and presumed scouts) this year were Jonathan Friend, artistic administrator at The Metropolitan Opera, Eve Queler, artistic director of Opera Orchestra New York and Charles Mackay, director of Santa Fe Opera.

The singers could not have had better accompaniment than to have Danielle Orlando, master vocal coach at the piano. There should be a whole separate article.

my disclaimer for this competition is – In my book they were all winners, even if there were off moments, at this caliber, it is really just being picky.

Here are a few notes on each performer in order of their appearance~ all are in their 1st year as AVA resident artists unless noted otherwise.

Michael Adams, baritone, stepped lustily into Come paride vezzoso  from Donizetti’s with rich tones and fine pacing, he hammed it up a bit to put over a showy character, but the radio broadcast confirmed this was indeed, a fine technical performance.

Galeano Salas, tenor, put too much pressure on himself with Che gelida Manina from Puccini’s La boheme. He seemed tentative and it was heard in his voice, and the control in the upper notes fell apart. He pulled in together in the back half, with attack and fine phrasing. His vocal crash did unfortunately, sound even worse over the radio.  (Remember that rule about one performance).

Julia Dawson, mezzo-soprano, had no trouble with the timbres of Meyerbee’s Nobles Seigneurs, Salut! (Les Huguenots) aria floating those waltzy French scales breezily showing her technical prowess and lustrous theatrical presence.

Jorge Espino, baritone, takes on the Ah! per sempre from Bellini’s I puritani in dramatically heavy baritone and very silky passagio, and an effective   reading, though his phrase finish articulation could improve.

Anush Avetisyan, soprano, melodramatically tackled Le come voi piccina io fossi from Puccini’s Le villi. Avetisyan has a powerful voice, but she performs with a studied manner that distracts from her artistry. Still, vocally, she was damn near flawless.

Alasdair Kent, tenor, played to humor, slinging those roulades and trills in Principe plu non sei…Si itrovaria to gluro from La Cenerentola. Kent dispatches Rossini with winning character flair. In fact, he could be the next Rossini tenor around town (the last was Juan Diego Flores, who trained at Curtis).

Andre Courville impressed with a mercury smooth bass-baritone singing Vi ravviso.. Tu non sai from Bellini’s La Sonnambula, his dramatic pacing brought the scene immediately to life.

Sydney Mancasola (3rd yr.), soprano sings C’en est donc fait…Salut a la France from Donizetti’s La fille du regiment and as elegant she is in her opera gown here , you have no trouble believing she is playing this rough and tumble and valiant Daughter of the Regiment. She sings this with such soul and as she has shown time and again, technical clarity.

Jared Bybee, baritone, sings Avant do quitter cos lieu from Gounod’s Faust with an ironic nobility and fine line technical skill.

Jessie Nguenang, singing Sombre foret from Rossini’s Guillaume Tell displays a shimmering lower soprano, technical clarity compelling interpretation.

Mackenzie Whitney, tenor, seemed timid, almost distracted at first, but none of that was reading in his voice, (confirmed during the WRTI broadcast) in an otherwise full- throated performance.

Chloe Moore, soprano (4th yr.) has both regal and earthy presence, not to mention vocal clarity with Berlioz’s Entre l’amour from Benvenito Cellini.  Moore only has to watch some too sharp spikes riding those topnotes.

Armando Pina, baritone, chose Leoncavallo’s Il Paggliaci, not the famous tragic aria, but this was perhaps overly coy, but he shows incredible presence and has silky baritone-tenor passagio, but he should watch the vibrato.

Shelley Jackson, soprano (2nd yr.) sang Je dis que rien ne m’epouvante from Carmen so completely, so enticingly, that you just make a mental note that when she does it at the Met you will be there.

Patrick Guietti, bass (3rd yr.), also gave a fully realized performance of Simon Boccanegra, triumphantly it turns out, and it seemed like he would definitely put his vocal stamp on this role. One thinks of Domingo and other greats that his name will be added through this part. His voice never bottoms out or hits evaporation- his is an oceanic basso.

Marina Costa-Jackson, soprano (2nd yr.), vocally luminous in her reading of In quelle trine morbide from Puccini’s Manon Lescat. (the qualities onstage were equally radiant on the radio as that audience registered)

Diego Silva, tenor (3rd yr.), sang Donizetti’s Angelo casto e bel from Il duca d Alba, which such lyrical power and subtle characterization that the soul in this song just soared.

~Diego Silva won the 1st prize judges award. Sydney Mancasola and Shelley Jackson tied for second place. Patrick Guietti took the audience award.  

~Audience winners based on the WRTI Broadcast- Sydney Mancasola (1st place) Marina Costa-Jackson (2nd); Mackenzie Whitney (3rd)