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Opera San Miguel announces historic collaboration

By Shari Alexander

In the five-year history of Concurso San Miguel, the nationwide search for the most talented and promising young opera singers in Mexico, the competition has grown from a small regional contest to an event of national significance in the musical and cultural life of Mexico. “Each year we grow our number of artistic partnerships in a continuing effort to expand the benefits we can offer our singers,” says Opera San Miguel Artistic Director John Bills, which sponsors the annual Concurso. “This year we were able to offer, in addition to our cash career grants, a debut performance with the Acapulco Philharmonic Orchestra and debuts with the Opera Company of Morelos in Cuernavaca.”

But the most important new collaboration, Bills believes, is a strategic alliance with the Conservatorio de Música y Artes de Celaya. “Both the Conservatorio and Opera San Miguel are in the business of raising up the next generation of musical artists in Mexico, so we are a natural fit for an artistic partnership,” Bills says. Most sanmiguelenses, he asserts, are unaware that one of the top music schools in Mexico, possessing an excellent orchestra and chorus, is located right in our neighboring city of Celaya. That is about to change.

During the Concurso’s awards presentation on March 2, Bills said that his long-term goal for Opera San Miguel has always been to augment the career grants they award with professional-quality performing experience: staged performances with conductor, orchestra and chorus, produced and directed with the assistance of the members of OSM’s world-renowned international Advisory Board, and cast with the brilliant young Mexican singers discovered through the Concurso. “Tonight I am announcing the first steps towards achieving that goal,” Bills told the sold-out audience. Through a new agreement with the Celaya Conservatory, Opera San Miguel will present its first-ever Opera Gala next spring, accompanied by the orchestra and chorus of the Celaya Conservatory, conducted by its Music Director, Maestro Jesús Almanza.”

“The gala will not be the typical series of arias and ensembles,” Bills says. “Instead we plan to present entire acts of operas, cast with singers from all five of our previous contests. And though this will be a concert performance, I have asked Joseph McClain, the founding Artistic Director of Austin Lyric Opera, a valued member of my Advisory Board, and a tremendously gifted and experienced opera director, to stage the gala for maximum theatrical impact.”

This inaugural Opera Gala will be a co-production of Opera San Miguel and the Celaya Conservatory of Music and will be presented in both cities in March 2014.


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