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Opera San Miguel Singers Sweep Morelli Contest

José Manuel

By Shari Alexander

The results of the 35th edition of Concurso Nacional de Canto Carlo Morelli on August 27 proved overwhelmingly that Concurso San Miguel, the annual contest presented by Opera San Miguel, is the leader in discovering the most talented young singers in Mexico and providing them a powerful springboard to success. At the Morelli Contest in Mexico City, first, second, fourth, and Audience Favorite prizes were all won by singers previously recognized by OSM, three of whom were top prize winners of last spring’s Concurso!

The Morelli is Mexico’s oldest contest for singers. Many of its previous winners have gone on to important international careers, including soprano Gilda Cruz-Romo and star tenors Francisco Araiza, Rolando Villazon, Ramon Vargas, and Javier Camarena.

This year’s first prize Morelli winner was baritone José Manuel González, 28, from San Luis Potosí. His winning arias, from Bellini’s I Puritani and Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt, were the same arias he sang to win second prize at Concurso San Miguel 2017 in March. González takes home 75,000 pesos, plus the ongoing support of SIVAM (the largest private funder of Mexican artists), and numerous performing opportunities.

Counter-tenor Gamaliel Reynoso, 27, won second prize at the Morelli singing baroque arias by Vivaldi and Handel. Reynoso was fourth prize winner of Concurso San Miguel 2017. Soprano Karen Barraza, 25, who was an Invitada Especiale of Concurso San Miguel 2013 at barely 20 years old, won fourth prize at the Morelli with arias by Verdi and Puccini.

Soprano Darenka Chávez, third prize winner in San Miguel, took the coveted Pro Ópera Audience Favorite prize with arias by Verdi and Leonard Bernstein. Also performing at a very high level was soprano Valeria Vazquez, who impressed in arias by Mozart and Bizet. Ms. Vazquez, 23, was an Invitada Especiale at Concurso San Miguel in 2017.

Of the 12 finalists at the Morelli, Opera San Miguel was instrumental in bringing five to national attention for the first time. Artistic Director John Bills reacted, saying, “We are delighted at the showing our singers made at the Morelli. These young artists are very talented and deserving of these achievements, and it is gratifying for us at Opera San Miguel to see them build on their experience in our Concurso to find success and recognition by a wider audience. Bravi tutti!”

Concurso San Miguel 2018 will be presented for the 10th year at 7:30pm, Saturday, March 3, at Teatro Ángela Peralta.

Opera San Miguel, A.C. exists solely to discover and develop the careers of the most promising of Mexico’s young opera singers through grants for advanced study and professional expenses and by providing and facilitating performances for its singers, here and around the world. Singers never pay a fee to participate in our programs. OSM is not affiliated with Pro Musica Opera or the San Miguel Institute of Bel Canto. We are a charity, sustained exclusively by contributions from individual donors and local businesses. Donations can be tax deductible in the US at, and in Canada through For further information please visit


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