|Licia Albanese as Cio-Cio San|
The second half of the concert began with Distinguished Achievement Awards given to winners from previous years who have gained great success. These included Kristin Chavez, Jennifer Check, Jill Grove, Eglise Gutierrez, Carl Tanner, and Ricardo Tamura. With the exception of Mr. Tanner, who was ill, all of these alumni performed arias, to well deserved and enthusiastic applause. Ms. Chavez gave us a memorably lusty and earthy performance of the Habañera from Carmen. Ms. Check performed a vengeful Vieni t'affretta from Macbeth and Ms. Gutierrez sang a lovely O mio babbino caro. Pianists Arlene Shrut and Jonathan Kelly provided accompaniment for the distinguished alumni.
The remainder of the concert featured prize winners. My favorites in this group included Second Prize winner Anthony Kalil, who sang an impassioned E lucevan le stelle from Tosca. A big, beautiful sound from a handsome fellow who has already seen the beginnings of a successful career. I also quite liked First Prize winner Takaoki Onishi, who sang Per me giunto from Don Carlos. And it should surprise no one to read that my favorite singer of all was soprano Jennifer Rowley. She sang a perfectly lovely Come in quest'ora bruna from Simon Boccanegra, her warm soprano gleaming with the dream-like quality of the aria.
Eve Queler, herself a legendary figure in New York's opera world, led an orchestra comprised of members of the Opera Orchestra of New York. A legend driving the proceedings, a legend at the podium, and surely many legends in the making on the program. A pretty darn good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.