Houston Grand Opera Announces Concert Of Arias 2019 Finalists

Houston Grand Opera (HGO) has selected the finalists for the 31st annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers Concert of Arias, to be presented in the Wortham Theater Center on February 1, 2019, at 7 p.m. A limited number of general admission tickets for the performance are available for purchase here. The program will also be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube for all to enjoy, inviting viewers to cast their votes for the Online Viewers' Choice Award.

This year's finalists are:

Soprano: Anna Dugan, Yunuet Laguna, Elena Villal n

Mezzo-soprano: Katherine DeYoung

Tenor: Angel Romero

Bass-baritone: Nicholas Newton

Basses: William Meinert, William Guanbo Su

The competition and its final round, the Concert of Arias, are held annually to identify candidates for HGO's internationally acclaimed Studio program, which nurtures young artists who have the potential for major careers in opera. Past prize winners who are now artists on the international stage include Jamie Barton, Joyce DiDonato, Ana Mar a Mart nez, Ryan McKinny, and Tamara Wilson.

Now in its 31st year, the competition received 525 applications from singers around the world. Auditions were conducted in November and December 2018.

After careful consideration, 14 semifinalists were chosen to come to Houston for further rounds of the prestigious competition. The field of semifinalists was narrowed to eight finalists January 28. The selected finalists will have the opportunity to learn more about HGO and work with HGO music staff leading up to the Concert of Arias, in which they will perform two arias each, competing for up to $10,000 in cash prizes. Finalists will be accompanied by Kirill Kuzmin, HGO assistant conductor.

Two of the eight finalists are alumni of HGO's Young Artists Vocal Academy (YAVA), a week-long course established in 2011 to give talented undergraduates an introduction to the information and training they will need to develop careers in opera.

The judging panel will be led by HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers and HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech, with guest judge Lawrence Brownlee. For the fifth year, world-renowned soprano and HGO Studio alumna Ana Mar a Mart nez will select a finalist to receive her encouragement award. Audience members also have the opportunity to participate in the evening's events when they cast their votes for the Audience Choice Award. Proceeds from Concert of Arias 2019 benefit the Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers and the Houston Grand Opera Studio.

This is the third year the Concert of Arias will be streamed live on Facebook, and the second for livestreaming on YouTube. The livestream will be hosted by HGO Studio alumna Andrea Carroll. She is currently performing in The Pearl Fishers as Le la and placed first in the 2012 Concert of Arias. Carroll will interview former HGO Studio artists and HGO staff throughout the evening. The winner will be announced during the second portion of the program along with the other winners.

This year's Concert of Arias is chaired by Elizabeth and Richard Husseini. The evening begins with a champagne reception at 6 p.m., and the vocal competition commences at 7 p.m. Current HGO Studio artists will also perform. Following the concert, artists, patrons, and underwriters will be seated for a dinner.

Since its inception 42 years ago, the HGO Studio has grown to be one of the most respected young artist programs in the country. Each of the young artists in the HGO Studio has access to a learning environment that emphasizes practical experience within the professional opera world. This includes regular coaching sessions with industry professionals, roles in HGO mainstage productions, recital performances, and a variety of other concert engagements.


Katherine DeYoung


Katherine DeYoung, originally from Traverse City, Michigan, is currently a member of the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio. Recently, she completed her master's degree at the University of Houston, where she performed Isabella in L'italiana in Algeri, Gertrude in Rom o et Juliette, and Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible. Her favorite role is the title role in Carmen, which she performed with Opera in the Ozarks. This summer, she will return to Santa Fe Opera for a second year as a member of the apprentice singer program. This season with Michigan Opera Theatre, she will perform Sandman and cover Hansel in H nsel und Gretel and sing the roles of Old Lady in Candide, Mae in The Grapes of Wrath, and Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors; she will cover Olga in Eugene Onegin. DeYoung is a district winner of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and is an alumna of Michigan State University.

Anna Dugan


Anna Dugan's previous roles include the Marquise de Merteuil in Conrad Susa's The Dangerous Liaisons, which was recorded commercially for the first time by Albany Records; Violetta in La traviata with Aspen Opera Center; and the soprano soloist in Dvo k's Te Deum and Stabat Mater. Dugan was a national semifinalist in the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has received prizes from the Gerda Lissner International Voice Competition, the George London Competition, and the Gerda Lissner Lieder/Song Competition. She is a recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation. She holds degrees from Columbia University and Manhattan School of Music.

Yunuet Laguna


Yunuet Laguna, from Zacatecas, Mexico, is completing her degree in vocal performance at the National Conservatory of Music (CNMM) in Mexico City. Other training includes the Irma Gonz lez Master Course, led by professors of the School of Music from Arizona State University. In 2015, she was a semifinalist in the Carlo Morelli Vocal Competition and in 2018 was named a finalist in the Sinaloa International Vocal Competition, where she earned the San Miguel Institute of Bel Canto McClain Prize. She is a winner of the inaugural San Miguel, Mexico, district in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and will represent the Gulf region at the regional auditions in New Orleans in 2019. Laguna has been a soloist with the CNMM Orquesta, Touluca Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Mexiquense Symphonic Orquestra, and most recently was the soprano soloist for Mozart's Requiem with the San Miguel Allende Opera Chorus.

William Meinert


This season, William Meinert performs the Commendatore in Don Giovanni with Baltimore Concert Opera, Commentator in Derrick Wang's opera Scalia/Ginsburg with Opera North, Vodn k in Dvo k's Rusalka with Madison Opera, and Le Duc in Gounod's Rom o et Juliette with Pensacola Opera. During the 2017 18 season, he was the baritone soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with Baltimore Youth Orchestra, the bass II soloist in Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 with American Bach Soloists, as well as Uberto in Pergolesi's La serva padrona with Commonwealth Lyric Theater, Dulcamara in L'elisir d'amore, and Le philosophe in Massenet's Ch rubin at Peabody Institute. Meinert has studied privately with Russell Penney, with Dolora Zajick at her Institute for Young Dramatic Voices, and currently studies with William Sharp at Peabody Institute.

Nicholas Newton


A San Diego native, Nicholas Newton has pursued his passion for singing through gospel, jazz, musical theater, and now operatic performance. Notable performances include the roles of Count Ceprano in Rigoletto and Capulet (cover) in Rom o et Juliette with Wolf Trap Opera, Achilla in Julius Caesar at Rice University, and L'arbre and Le fauteuil in L'enfant et les sortil ges at Aspen Music Festival under the baton of Robert Spano. Newton was a winner at the 2018 San Diego District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the first place winner of the 2018 Virginia & Susan Hawk Competition; he has won top prize in voice three years in a row at the Musical Merit Foundation Scholarship Auditions. An alumnus of HGO's Young Artists Vocal Academy, he will perform the role of Blitch in Carlisle Floyd's Susannah at Rice University in March, under the baton of Patrick Summers.

Angel Romero


Angel Romero's recent opera performances include Tamino in Yale University's production of The Magic Flute, and Monostatos in The Magic Flute and Ruiz in Il trovatore as an apprentice artist for the Central City Opera. On the concert stage, he recently was the tenor soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Yale Philharmonia under the baton of Marin Alsop. In the summer of 2019, Romero will join the Santa Fe Opera as a young artist. He is currently finishing his master's degree in music at Yale University under the tutelage of Richard and Doris Cross.

William Guanbo Su


A native of China, now based in New York City, William Guanbo Su is pursuing his master's degree at the Juilliard School under the guidance of Cynthia Hoffmann. In 2018, he was a member of Gerdine Young Artist program at at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and he has also been a voice fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he played the principal role of Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville. Other opera roles include Pluton in Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie, Herr Reich in Nicolai's The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Seneca in Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea. He has also concentrated on German lieder at the Franz Schubert Institute in Vienna, where he was coached by Emmy Ameling, Helmut Deutsch, Robert Holl, and others. In 2017, he made his Carnegie Hall solo debut with the Cecilia Chorus of New York and won first prize in the Gerda Lissner Lieder Competition the same year.

Elena Villal n


Originally from Austin, Texas, soprano Elena Villal n is finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (CCM) under the tutelage of William McGraw. She was recently named a winner of the Indiana District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She has been a vocal fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and is an alumna of HGO's 2018 Young Artists Vocal Academy. Upcoming performances include Adele in Die Fledermaus at CCM, Barbarina in

The Marriage of Figaro at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist, and a return to the Tanglewood Music Center as a soprano fellow. Previous appearances at CCM include Lucy in The Telephone and Miss Wordsworth in Albert Herring. She is the Nippert Scholar at CCM and has won first prize in the 2018 Three Arts Competition, 2018 Dayton Opera Guild Competition, and the 2017 CCM Undergraduate Voice Competition.

Houston Grand Opera (HGO) is one of the largest, most innovative, and most highly acclaimed opera companies in the United States. HGO was the only American finalist for Opera Company of the Year at the 2017 International Opera Awards. In fulfilling its mission to advance the operatic art to serve an ever-evolving audience, HGO has led the field in commissioning new works (65 world premieres to date) and in training and nurturing promising young artists and administrators. The company contributes to the cultural enrichment of Houston and the nation through a diverse and innovative program of performances, community events, and education projects that reaches the widest possible public. HGO's pioneering community engagement initiative, HGOco, has served as a model for other arts organizations.

The NEXUS Initiative is HGO's multiyear ticket underwriting program that allows Houstonians of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy opera without the barrier of price. Since 2007, NEXUS has enabled more than 250,000 Houstonians to experience superlative opera through discounted single tickets and subscriptions, subsidized student performances, and free productions.

HGO has toured extensively and has won a Tony, two Grammy awards, and three Emmy awards. It is the only opera company to win all three honors.

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