2022 Centre Stage Ensemble Studio Competitors Showcases Stars of Tomorrow

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On stage on the Centre Stage: Ensemble Studio Competitors, 2022 L-R higher: Korin Thomas-Smith, first prize winner Karoline Podolak, third prize winner River Guard; Decrease: Matthew Li, second prize winner Hannah Crawford, Laura Nielsen; third prize winner Wesley Harrison (Photograph: Michael Cooper)

It was certainly a grand evening of singing.

For opera followers, there’s nothing fairly like listening to contemporary, younger, lovely voices, one after one other in showstopping arias, understanding a few of them might be future opera stars.

COC’s Centre Stage Ensemble Studio Competitors has simply the suitable system to draw opera lovers close to and much to its annual occasion. Centre Stage gives contestants recognition, prize cash, and the prospect to turn into a member of the COC Ensemble Studio, a dream of many aspiring singers.

I’ve been attending this competitors from the very starting, when it was held on the Joey and Toby Tannenbaum Centre on Entrance Road. Then it moved to the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, the place we sat on the steps that served as seats. Not probably the most comfy location, however hey — the voices have been nice, so I’m not complaining!

In recent times, Centre Stage has morphed into a number one attraction for the COC, with all of the bells and whistles, happening in the primary auditorium full with full orchestra and a flowery reception. For a cool $1,000 per ticket, patrons get the royal therapy, together with a dinner. For these choosing simply the primary attraction, it was a extra modest $150 a head.

I arrived a couple of minutes earlier than the appointed time of 5:30 p.m., and already there have been loads of opera followers, a number of dressed to the nines, ready to get in. Then it was an prolonged 90 minutes of pre-competition reception. For opera followers — yours actually included — it was an opportunity to see previous buddies and make new ones. How cool is that?

Then it was the primary occasion. It was nicely attended, however FSC wasn’t full by any means. What the gang lacked in measurement, it made up for with enthusiasm. As anticipated, new COC head honcho Perryn Leech welcomed the viewers, plus a number of video/sound bites of supporters projected on the stage. Then it was right down to enterprise!

On stage at the Centre Stage: Ensemble Studio Competition, 2022 L-R: third prize winner Wesley Harrison, first prize winner Karoline Podolak, Laura Nielsen (Photo: Michael Cooper)
On stage on the Centre Stage: Ensemble Studio Competitors, 2022 L-R: third prize winner Wesley Harrison, first prize winner Karoline Podolak, Laura Nielsen (Photograph: Michael Cooper)

Seven singers — three sopranos, two tenors, one baritone and one bass. Kicking off the proceedings was soprano Laura Nielsen with Micaela’s Aria (from Carmen), singing it with contemporary, enticing, candy tone, with a pleasant prime and a little bit of flutter. Good begin!

Then it was tenor Wesley Harrison in Ottavio’s showstopper, “Il mio Tesoro,” revealing a pleasant Mozartian tenor. Notably fascinating was the interpolated coloratura at one level, one thing I had not heard earlier than.

Korin Thomas-Smith was subsequent. I used to be accustomed to his voice from the U of T College of Music — good, heat lyric baritone and fascinating stage presence. His selection of aria was a shock to me, the unfamiliar “Sibilar gli angui d’Aletto” from Rinaldo. Sometimes, one chooses warhorses for the good thing about the viewers. By no means thoughts — he sang nicely.

Soprano Hannah Crawford was subsequent, with one other comparatively unfamiliar piece from Herodiade, Salome’s “Il est doux, il est bon,” a beautiful aria that requires a lot of chiaroscuro, significantly excessive piano, which Crawford executed with aplomb.

Bass Matthew Li sang a stunning “La caluunia” from Barbiere — very good voice, albeit a stronger sense of theatricality would have been good — his Basilio was too gentlemanly.

Then it was tenor River Guard’s flip to shine, a voice very acquainted to me on the U of T College of Music. He selected the fiendishly tough aria from Faust, a chunk that had defeated many nice singers previously. He sang very nicely, with pretty tone, good quantity, and loads of expression. The one factor wanting was a much bigger, fuller voiced climactic excessive C, however I’m nitpicking.

The ultimate singer was soprano Karoline Podolak, with one other showstopper, “Sempre libera” from La Traviata. It takes guts to decide on this piece in a contest, however hey, when you’ve acquired it, flaunt it! And, Ms. Podolak acquired it, to make certain. Speak about saving the very best for final! She was the ultimate singer and was the very best of the bunch. 4 excessive Cs? A excessive D flat? A excessive E flat? No drawback! She aced it. She acquired my vote for Viewers Prize.

The outcomes? Podolak wins First Prize and Viewers Prize; Hannah Crawford wins Second Prize; Guard and Harrison tied for Third Prize. I’ve to say I agree with the jurors (Adrianne Pieczonka, J’Nai Bridges, Roberto Mauro, and Perryn Leech).

That’s the top of one other terrific competitors. I need to say, everybody sang with contemporary, lovely voices, they usually all have the potential for a advantageous profession. In my ebook, they’re all winners!

Bravi tutti!


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Joseph So
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