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Opera San Miguel Season Finale a Stunner

Winners Concert Grand Finale, photo credit Agustín Valadez

By Shari Alexander

Following the brilliant success of its recent national contest, Opera San Miguel (OSM) closed out its landmark 2016 season March 19 with a Winners Concert that had the audience leaping to its feet and cheers reverberating throughout the vast courtyard of the Bellas Artes. Artistic Director John Bills designed an exciting program of arias, duets, and ensembles from the world’s greatest operas to challenge his young singers and thrill his audience. It succeeded superbly.

Joining Concurso winners mezzo-soprano Ligia Cedillo (First Prize), baritone Armando Piña (Second Prize), soprano Graciela Morales (Third Prize), and baritone Daniel Gallegos (Fourth Prize), were soprano Jéssika Arévalo (José Mojica Prize Winner), tenor Héctor Valle (Oliver Deehan Memorial Prize), and bass Salvador Ramos (Herman Marcus Memorial Prize). The top prize winners each sang two solo arias and then were joined by the others in duets and ensembles from The Barber of Seville, La Traviata, Faust, La Bohème, Pagliacci, Lakmé, and Rigoletto. Mario Alberto Hernández was the outstanding pianist, and stage manager James Wright kept the action moving smoothly.

The 2016 season of Opera San Miguel, the fifth under the direction of Maestro Bills, featured three dazzling concerts in addition to the company’s flagship event, its nationally celebrated contest for young Mexican opera singers, Concurso San Miguel. The season began with the Second Annual Mexico–Canada Co-OPERA-tive Concert, starring 2015 Concurso Winner, tenor César Delgado, and Canadian soprano Lara Secord-Haid, winner of the OSM Prize at the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques competition held in Montréal last November.

The season continued with a program of French and Russian opera scenes, sponsored in part by Les Amis de Francis Poulenc of Paris, and starring Adriana Valdés, First Prize winner of Concurso 2014, and Pablo Aranday and Dhyana Arom, Second and Fourth Prize winners of Concurso 2015. The singers appeared in stagings of scenes from Poulenc’s comedy, Les Mamelles de Tirésias, and Tchaikovsky’s lyric tragedy, Eugene Onegin.

On March 5, OSM presented Concurso San Miguel 2016, where a record 300,000 pesos was awarded among 11 finalists, with Ligia Cedillo winning the top prize of 75,000 pesos plus an additional 10,000 pesos as the Rosewood San Miguel Audience Favorite.

Closing the season with a Winners Concert was a long-held dream, said John Bills in his opening remarks. “It has always bothered me that we spend months of planning and holding preliminary auditions, but only get to hear our singers on one occasion. This year we are rectifying that!” And a brilliant culmination to a brilliant season it was!


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