Category Archives: opera competitions

two top contemporary tenors!

One of my most popular posts on “Operatoonity” is called Today’s Top Tenors, a somewhat informal and exhaustive listing of purportedly the best tenors performing in the greatest houses in the world today. I created the list since I couldn’t find one on the Internet that was anywhere near up to date.

Since I posted it almost 18 months ago, “Today’s Top Tenors” has had more than 23,000 visits. And it attracts a lot of commenters as well, who are very well behaved, most of the time.

My latest commenter, who was in fact polite, nonetheless lamented in essence that he thinks the Golden Age of Tenors is behind us. And while he is certainly entitled to his opinion, which I am happy to post, I wanted him to know that he need lament no more.

I’m here, dear readers, with glad tidings of great joy. Ring out the opera bells! The Golden Age of Tenors is actually ahead of us–for decades to come.

And here’s two golden reasons why: David Lomelí and René Barbera. 

David Lomelí, Operalia winner, 2006

René Barbera, 2011 Operalia winner

Both young men (and I DO mean young) are past winners of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia, an international opera competition for rising stars, both were featured here on Operatoonity (David and René), and (drumroll, please) both were just profiled in Opera News’ Sound Bites in the past year:

Click here for David’s Sound Bites profile.

Click here for René’s Sound Bites profile.

I haven’t yet had the privilege of seeing René perform in person, but I have watched every videotaped performance of his available, including his winning performance of “Ah Mes Amis” from The Daughter of the Regiment during the Operalia competition.

Here is René’s winning performance captured on YouTube  below, where he absolutely lasers all those top C’s. I can’t imagine Donizetti himself wasn’t smiling at this performance, never thinking any tenor would someday hit those notes straight on from the top rather scooping up to them in a yodel. I can’t help myself. I find myself clapping with joy every time I listen, as if I were in that Operalia audience, too.

YouTube Preview Image

 

In 2010, I had the extraordinary privilege of seeing David Lomelí starring in The Elixir of Love at New York City Opera, Lincoln Center.  He was absolutely captivating in the role of Nemorino, skewering all of our hearts with his sheer artistry and abundant energy. He leaves everything on stage when he performs. He doesn’t know the meaning of marking a performance. He stopped the show with “Una furtiva lagrima”–literally. The audience applauded for at least 3o seconds during a matinee! You can read more about what I thought of David’s performance at my Bachtrack review of Elixir.

In the meantime, here is one of my favorite YouTube recordings of David singing “Nessun Dorma”:

YouTube Preview Image

So, for the kindly commenter yearning for the Golden Age of Tenors, yearn no more, my friend.

A new age is just beginning. Oh, and a new list.

 

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, artists, Bel canto opera, opera competitions, tenors, Uncategorized

ENO makes BIG splash with mini comp

If writing for opera sounds like something you’ve always wanted to try, but you never dreamed you’d have a chance to try it, you need to know about English National Opera’s (ENO) new Mini-Opera writing competition.

Somebody’s going to win BIG with something mini, and it might as well be you.

Who should enter this competition? The better question is who shouldn’t enter this competition. No one, that’s who. If you can write, compose, create with film, there are no barriers to trying your hand at writing opera.

But you better get on it–the script-writing portion is already underway.

See, the ENO is seeking the next generation of opera talent–librettists and writers, composers, and filmmakers–and has devised a brilliant way to engage up-and-coming artists.

And if you win the competition, you have a chance to be mentored for a year by some of the  most talented and successful creatives working in opera today: Jeremy Sams, Nico Muhly or Leo Warner.

ENO’s Mini-Operas has three parts:

  • Script Competition (March 26 to May 21)
  • Soundtrack Competition (June 4 to July 23)
  • Filmmaking  Competition (August 6 to September 24)

ENO has made the whole competition timeline available here.

Since every great opera starts with a libretto, that’s where this competition begins.

For starters, some wonderfully inspiring writers — Will Self, A.L. Kennedy and Neil Gaiman — have each generated seed stories. Those interested in entering the script competition must read the seed stories and pick one that inspires them to write a script for a 5-7 minute opera based on that story. In terms of inspiration, anything goes: a single word, title, a mood or even a character name, as the guidelines suggest. All scripts must be in English.

In May, ENO will pick 10 scripts going through to the next round.  Those scripts will become the seeds that people will compose soundtracks for in the next leg of the competition.  Remember that the script will be set to music by someone else and that words can take a lot longer to sing than to read, so “less is definitely more.”

Writers have until May 21 to write their scripts and enter them using ENO’s online form.

For those who might benefit from some extra coaching in the script-writing department, ENO’s  resident author Tamsin Collison has written examples for each story.  They plan to add more expert help to the site before the May 21 deadline, so do check back at the Mini-Operas site for more tips.

What do have to lose? Your mini-opera could be a BIG winner!

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Classical Arts marketing, Classical Music, Collaborative opera, creative promotions, opera competitions, opera milestones

American tenor wins Operalia 2011

René Barbera, 2011 Operalia winner

Congratulations to René Barbera, US tenor, Texas native, winner of three prizes at Placido Domingo’s Operalia!

  • First Prize for Opera
  • First Prize for Zarzuela
  • Audience Prize

He is the first artist to be the sole recipient of all three awards since the competition began in 1993.

Here is his prize-winning aria from the competition. “Pour mon ame” from Donizetti’s La fille du régiment. Listen to him nail his top C’s–all nine of them. Laser sharp. Ping, bam, ring. WOW!

watch?v=TFUDlkuXzCs

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Heartstoppers, North American Opera, opera competitions, Performers, tenors