Sunday January 19th was a Championship Game for the local football Seahawks about a mile from Benaroya Hall. Inside the packed concert hall in downtown Seattle a different crowd had come to witness another competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council (MONC) Northwest Regional Auditions. The Regional Auditions capped a weekend that included a buffet dinner and a presentation by award-winning critic Martin Bernheimer, and a panel on the future of opera with Speight Jenkins joining Bernheimer and the competition judges, concluding with a gala dinner at the Fairmont Hotel. Twelve talented singers had advanced to the MONC NW Regionals (one of 13 MONC Regions) after being selected by judges in previous District Auditions to compete and perform on the stage of Benaroya Hall for the possibility to advance to the Semi-Finals in New York. Our very own Portland Opera Resident Artist, soprano
Nicole Haslett, the very first singer of the day, was judged to be the best by the expert panel of three judges: Judith Forst, Elizabeth Hynes, and Gayletha Nichols. Ms. Haslett began by performing O luce di quest’ anima from Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix. She followed with Nannetta’s Sul fil d’un soffio etesio from Verdi’s Falstaff.
For her superb singing, Ms. Haslett received $5,000 and a place in the national semifinals in New York City in March. National winners are awarded $15,000 and a splendid opportunity to further their careers in opera. Five $1,000 Encouragement Awards went to tenor
Sunny Shams, sopranos Bahareh Poureslami and Katie McCullough, all from British Columbia, and to tenor John Marzano of Tacoma and Arielle Nachtigal of Missoula, MT.
After the final aria of the competition, the panel of judges retired offstage to deliberate while the audience was treated to one of the highlights of the opera weekend, a performance by reigning diva Angela Meade,whose 2007 win at the NW Regionals and then the Grand Finals in New York launched her international career. She delighted the waiting audience with two arias, Io son l’umile ancella from Cilea’s opera Adriana Lecouvreur and Verdi’s Pace, pace mio Dio from La Forza del Destino.
Norm Krasne, Coloratura editor.