(from the February 2016 Coloratura)
On a beautiful January day in Seattle, first-year Portland Opera Resident Artist, Felicia Moore, was selected by an expert panel of three judges as the winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council (MONC) Northwest Region Auditions. As such, Ms. Moore received the $5,000 first prize and will be the only singer, of the 13 Seattle competitors, to advance to the National Semi Finals at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City on March 6th, with a chance to become a Grand Finalist the following Sunday.
Many of us got our first look at Felicia when Portland Opera introduced a new group of Resident Artists last September. Ms. Moore’s exciting soprano riveted her listeners and we knew we had a young opera star in our midst! In Seattle, she first performed Vitellia’s dramatic Act II aria from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, “Non più di fior” (No more flowers). The aria demands extraordinary breath control to reach the top and bottom of the soprano range. Ms. Moore demonstrated that she was up to that task.
The judges asked Felicia for “Einsam in trüben Tagen” (Lonely, in troubled days) from Wagner’s Lohengrin. She had led with the very same aria at the Oregon Auditions last October. Once again, she filled the auditorium, Seattle’s wonderful Benaroya Hall, with her incredible sound that obviously impressed the judges as well as the rest of us. Portland Opera’s Assistant Conductor and Chorus Master, Nicholas Fox, was a brilliant accompanist, playing flawlessly and beautifully on the keyboard.
Alasdair Kent, a tenor from faraway Perth, Australia, was awarded the $3,000 second prize after singing arias from Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. The $2,000 third prize went to bass-baritone Daren Small of Billings, Montana. Mr. Small presented an aria from Verdi’s Attila and a second from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.
The distinguished three judge panel consisted of the Director of the MONC Auditions, Gayletha Nichols, Elizabeth Hynes, and Patricia Craig, a last-minute substitute for Carol Vaness, who was unable to be there. David McDade, provided superb keyboard accompaniment for nearly all the singers. Dick Foley once again proved to be a knowledgeable and charming host. While the judges were deliberating, mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens, winner of the 1992 MONC NW Auditions, now with an international career, performed two musical selections and chatted with the audience
As always, this event provided a fabulous afternoon of singing.