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10th Concurso Awards Unprecedented Prize Amounts

Karen Barraza Reacts to Winning 1st Prize

By Shari Alexander

The sold-out audience for Concurso San Miguel X on March 3rd was astounded at the number and generosity of its prizes for Mexico’s most talented young opera singers. A total of 620,000 pesos in cash grants for advanced study and professional expenses was awarded to 12 finalists, in addition to many more thousands in performing opportunities, making this the most generous contest for singers in Mexico for the second year in a row.

Several singers heard on Saturday will make leading role debuts in European opera houses, and others have been invited to compete in European contests at the semifinal level. With this edition of the annual contest, produced by Opera San Miguel, Concurso San Miguel has become the most effective booster of Mexican singers in the nation.

“We don’t just give our winners a check and a pat on the back,” say John Bills, OSM Artistic Director, “we require them to present a proposal for how they will spend their grant, and it must be for clearly defined career-advancing purposes.”

All the monies raised for its career grants is raised privately from San Miguel residents and businesses. “We have a fiduciary responsibility to our donors to see that their money is spent wisely,” continues Bills.

A unique feature of Opera San Miguel’s contest is that the company actively acts on its winners’ behalf to promote their careers, in some cases long after a singer has won a prize, by organizing concerts and through Bills’ network of colleagues in the opera world, cultivated through his long career at the Metropolitan Opera, and since his retirement.

A concert of the winners of Concurso San Miguel X will be presented at the Miguel Malo Auditorium of the Bellas Artes, Hernández Macías 75, on Saturday, March 24, at 7pm. Tickets go on sale today at noon at the OSM office, Mesones 78, Interior 14.


Official Results: Concurso San Miguel X

Karen Barraza, Soprano

100,000 pesos The Marion M. Kelley Foundation 1st Prize/Primer Lugar

Jacinta Barbachano, Mezzo-soprano

75,000 pesos The Amistad Canada 2nd Prize/Segundo Lugar

María Caballero, Soprano

50,000 pesos 3rd Prize/Tercer Lugar

Luis Aguilar, Tenor and Penelope Luna, Soprano

40,000 pesos 4th Prize/Cuarto Lugar (Two 4th Prizes awarded)

Graciela Morales, Soprano

60,000 pesos In Honor of Victoria Carolina Mosallem Pescador

Rosario Aguilar, Soprano

40,000 pesos The Oliver Deehan Memorial Prize—A Gift of Barbara Hayes Deehan

Octavio Rivas, Tenor

30,000 pesos The Director’s Prize—Awarded at the Discretion of the Artistic Director

Jacob Bravo, Baritone

20,000 pesos The Dmitri Hvorostovsky Memorial Prize—A Gift of Shari Alexander

Vanessa Jara, Mezzo-soprano

20,000 pesos The Herman Marcus Memorial Prize—A Gift of Shari Alexander and Dennis Williams

Enrique Guzmán and Jacob Bravo

20,000 pesos For Exceptional Integrity, Fortitude, Discipline, Tenacity, and Positive Outlook—A Gift of Joy Levine

Luis Aguilar, Tenor

15,000 pesos The José Mojica Prize: A Concert in Celaya—A Gift of Álvaro Nieto and Mauricio Rivadeneyra

María Cabalerro and Luis Aguilar

15,000 pesos Les Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques Prize—Travel Expenses to Montréal, 3 Concerts, and Gala with Orchestra before 14 International Opera Company Directors, to sing for professional engagements and the International Prize. Chosen by Jury Member Alain Nonat.

Ángel Macías, Tenor

15,000 pesos The Therese Anne McCarthy Memorial Award for Youthful Potential—A Gift of Jerome McCarthy

Jacinta Barbachano, Mezzo-soprano

15,000 pesos The Edgar Mason Kneedler Memorial Award for Outstanding Interpretation and Style—A Gift of Jerome McCarthy

Enrique Guzmán, Tenor and Ángel Macías, Tenor

10,000 pesos The Opera San Miguel Encouragement Grants—Sponsored by Ruth Kaplan, Jack Goodwin, and Los Ángeles de la Opera de San Miguel

Jacinta Barbachano, Mezzo-soprano

10,000 pesos The Rosewood San Miguel Audience Favorite Prize



International Contest Prizes:

Karen Barraza, accepted directly into the Semifinal Round of the 2018 International Voice Competition, Marmande, France.

Rosario Aguilar, accepted directly into the Semifinal Round of the 2018 International Competition “Riccardo Zandonai” in Italy.

(Both contest prizes courtesy of Alain Nonat, Jury Member.)



Auditions and Engagements:

María Caballero, invitation to audition in person for a fest contract for season 2019–2020, Teater Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany. Offered by Intendant Jens Neundorff von Enzberg, jury member.

Octavio Rivas, engaged to sing the role of Mario Cavaradossi in a concert performance of Tosca, July, 2019, at Theater Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany. Offered by Intendant, Jens Neundorff von Enzberg, jury member.

Rosario Aguilar, Soprano, engaged to sing Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5 for Soprano and 8 Celli, with Amit Peled and the Peabody Peled Cello Gang, a presentation of the Festival de Música de Cámara de San Miguel de Allende, August 2018. Selected by Jury Member, John Daly Goodwin, and awarded by the Chamber Music Festival, Helenmarie Corcoran, President.



An additional audition was held on March 3 for Jury Members of former prize winners of Concurso San Miguel. Two engagements have thus far been offered, both to the winner of Concurso 2015.


César Delgado, Tenor. May 2019, the role of Edgardo in Lucia Di Lammermoor, directed by Brigitte Fassbaender, Teater Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany. Offered by Intendant, Jens Neundorff von Enzberg, jury member.

César Delgado, Tenor. Season 2022–2023, the role of the Duke in Rigoletto, offered by jury member Nicolas Mansfield, Artistic and General Director, Netherlands Touring Opera.


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