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I Concurso San Miguel 2008

1st prize: Lydia Rendón

2nd prize: Oralia Castro

3rd prize: Fabiola Venegas and Juan Carlos López (shared prize)


Finalists: Marcela Chacón, Pía Cruz, Octavio Daniel, Rodrigo Garciarroyo, Belinda González, Flor del Carmen Herrera, Jaime Vázquez Velázquez.

This concert of finalists organized by Ópera de San Miguel offered an impressive finale in the search for the best young singers in Mexico today. The company's artistic director, Joseph McClain, auditioned 116 contestants in Mexico City and selected 11 finalists, who were later taken to San Miguel de Allende to participate in training sessions with maestro Mario Alberto Hernández, master classes with McClain himself, and informal concerts for local students.


The week culminated with a gala concert titled “Singers on the Road to Stardom”, on March 15th at a packed Ángela Peralta Theater. The 11 finalists made a great impression, but in the end they highlighted four singers who deserved the prizes offered by the San Miguel Opera, both in cash and scholarships for advanced studies and auditions in the United States, where opportunities for young singers are more numerous than in Mexico.


Two singers shared third prize, receiving $15,000 pesos each: soprano Fabiola Venegas from Salamanca, Guanajuato, and tenor Juan Carlos López from the capital. Venegas sang Cilea’a aria 'Io son l'umille ancella' from Adriana Lecouvreur, with beautiful controlled expressiveness, and then returned to the stage to perform Cio-Cio-san's very emotional farewell aria to her son, ‘Tu, tu, piccolo Iddio’ from Puccini's Madama Butterly.


López is a rare voice among singers of his range: a classic “French” tenor with a head voice without breaks in the register that easily reaches the stratosphere without losing tonal quality. He showed serene confidence in the difficult aria from Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles, 'Je crois entendre', and then he sang the aria 'Ah, lève toi soleil' from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, which concluded with a B-flat in forte, which he then tapered off in a diminuendo to an ethereal pianissimo that elicited applause of heartfelt appreciation from the audience. López's technique, honeyed tone and heartthrob physique will take him far in his career.


Oralia Castro, a beautiful mezzo-soprano from Guamúchil, Sinaloa, won second prize for $25 thousand pesos, plus an additional $5 thousand pesos for being the public's favorite. Castro was excellent at every level, with well-focused dark color, smooth technique, and a great ability to bring fire to her characters. Her 'O mio Fernando' from Donizetti's La Favorite revealed a polished legato in the cavatina and great brilliance and passion in the cabaletta. But it was her “Habanera” from Bizet’s Carmen that won over the acceptance of the public. Taking control of the entire stage, like a lioness hunting her prey, she delivered a compelling and committed performance.


The main prize of $40,000 pesos went to another outstanding mezzo-soprano, Lydia Rendon, from Mexico City, who possesses a lustrous, throbbing vibrato, with authentic contralto tones, combined with an immediacy and intensity of expression rarely seen on stage. In her seduction scene from Saint-Saëns's Samson et Delila, 'Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix', Lydia Rendon was captivating, handling the long phrases with aplomb and winning us over with her brilliant B-flat in the phrase: “Je t'aime”. The mezzo returned to crown her victory with a brilliant rendition of Carmen's “Seguidilla”, which concluded with a dazzling B flat. She is a singer of great quality and a lot of promise.


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