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Concurso San Miguel celebrates fifth anniversary

By Shari Alexander

Opera San Miguel’s flagship event, Concurso San Miguel, returns to Teatro Ángela Peralta on Saturday, March 2, to celebrate its fifth annual contest. This anniversary version promises to be the most exciting, and most valuable in terms of prizes, in the company’s history. The artistic director, John Bills, is promising a surprise during the awards ceremony, which will propel Opera San Miguel in a new and very exciting direction. “Our Concurso audience will be the first to hear the news,” Bills says. “We will be making a major announcement that will broaden and expand the opportunities we offer our remarkable young artists.”

Concurso San Miguel 2013
Sat, Mar 2, 8pm
Teatro Ángela Peralta
Tickets on sale at the box office
450/250/150 pesos

“The men this year are exceptionally strong,” Bills says about the contestants. “We always have wonderful sopranos and mezzos, and this year is no exception, but our audience will also be hearing some amazing tenors, the high-Cs will be bouncing off the Peralta walls! And our baritones are equally talented. The judging this year is going to be very difficult!”

Concurso San Miguel seeks to discover the most gifted and promising young opera singers in Mexico, and to assist them in their career aspirations through grants for advanced study and professional expenses, through personal mentoring by luminaries in the opera world, and international-level professional counsel. “Although the depth of talent in Mexico is extraordinary, opportunities are few,” says Mr. Bills. “This is the stark reality facing young Mexican singers, and it is the problem we seek to address through our contest. Far too much genuine talent here dries on the vine.”

Each year Mr. Bills and his team consider approximately 200 applicants from nearly every state in Mexico, plus Mexican citizens working or studying abroad in the US, Canada and Europe. From this group is chosen 12 finalists who are invited to come to San Miguel de Allende for an intensive week of musical, dramatic and language coaching, master classes, and career counseling. “In the last two years we have assembled an extraordinary advisory board of international opera figures who are willing to donate their time and expertise on behalf of our young artists,” Mr. Bills says. This year’s finalists will be advised by Joseph McClain, singer, actor, director, and founding artistic director of Austin Lyric Opera; by Paul Plishka, legendary leading bass of the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Covent Garden, Vienna and every great opera house in the world, and by Sharon Thomas, esteemed stage director of the San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera.

The classes are made possible through Opera San Miguel’s Master Teacher Program, generously sponsored for the second year in a row by Rosewood San Miguel. The program presents a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the young finalists to work one-on-one with seasoned professionals from the very summit of the opera world.

Concurso Week culminates with the final round and concert on March 2, which has become the highlight of the San Miguel music season, always sold out, with the audience cheering for their favorites. “We love their enthusiasm, which often resembles a championship soccer match more than an opera contest,” Mr. Bills says. “We reward their enthusiasm by letting them choose the winner of a special ‘Audience Favorite’ prize.” For the judging this year, Ms. Thomas and Messrs. Bills, McClain and Plishka will be joined by John Daly Goodwin, esteemed conductor and Artistic Director of the New York Choral Society, and Charles Oppenheim, Editor of Pro Ópera magazine, the only Spanish-language magazine in the Americas devoted to opera.


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