By Nino Pantano
For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Zankel Hall, which is part of the Carnegie Hall complex, was the scene for much jubilation. On Sunday, April 28 the Gerda Lissner Foundation honored Metropolitan Opera basso Eric Owens and introduced the winners of the Foundation’s International Vocal Competition for 2013.
Stephen De Maio, president of the Gerda Lissner Foundation, announced that many scholarships have been distributed to promising opera singers. De Maio then introduced Brian Kellow, author and features editor of Opera News, who served as affable host.
Chloe Moore, first prize winner, sang “Robert, Toique J’aime” from Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable. Ms. Moore’s dark, powerful soprano with its exquisite haunting tone was as natural as the tide rolling in and out, with gentleness or fury. Dominick Chenes, a second-prize winner, used his clear, penetrating tenor to enthrall us with “La Mialetitziainfondere” from Verdi’s I Lombardi.
Deanna Breiwick, first-prize winner, used her sparkling saucy soprano in “Quel Guardoil Cavaliere” from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. Breiwick’s, brilliant coloratura trills plus an alluring stage presence made one yearn for more. First-prize winner counter-tenor John T.Holiday sang a brilliant “Crude Furie” from Handel’s Xerxes.His soprano like voice possesses a free and natural quality. First-prize winner Ying Fang sang an enchanting “Prendi Per Me Seilibero” from L’elisir D’amore. Ms. Fang’s lyric soprano possesses a creamy caramel tone, with lovely ascents and descents.
Jeongcheol Cha, second-prize winner, sang“Vi Ravviso” from Bellini’s La Sonnambula. Cha’s resonant basso captured the Bel Canto style with shaded, florid phrasing.
Metropolitan Opera basso Eric Owens was the honoree of the evening and accepted his award with great pride, saying how important such scholarships were to his career.
Anthony Kalil, second prize-winner, regaled us with the popular favorite “Chegelidamanina” from Puccini’s La Boheme. Kalil possesses a beautiful, well placed tenor with an easy top.
First prize winner Evan Hughes used his flexible, expressive bass-baritone and chameleon like gestures in a virtuoso display of fioratura and dynamics that delighted the audience in Dandini’s aria “Come Un ape” from Rossini’s La Cenerentola. The inspired pianist for part one was Jonathan C. Kelly.
First-prize winner Marcy Stonikas sang “Dichteure Halle” from Wagner’s Tannhauser. Stonikas has a lyric soprano with heft and a solid top. First-prize winner Noah Baetge sang Walter’s “Prize Song” from Die Meistersinger like a true Wagnerian tenor.
Second-prize winner, tenor Juan Jose de Leon, sang a dazzling “Si, Ritrovarla, Iogiuro” from La Cenerentola with brilliant high D’s and quicksilver passages. Second-prize winner Jennifer Johnson Cano used her mournful and mellow mezzo in a passionate display of acting and singing in the “Letter Scene” from Massenet’s tragic Werther. Second prize-winner Jonathan Winnell used his sturdy, stalwart tenor in “Ah! Mesamis” from La Fille du Regiment and tossed off those nine high C’s with abandon.
Top prize-winner Takaoki Onishi sangSilvio’s aria “E fraquest’ansie”from I Pagliacci with ardent tone and he truly possesses a baritone of stellar quality.
Lastly, top prize-winner Anthony C.Evans sang and acted the prologue to IPagliacci with perfection. His generous baritone truly evokes the greats of the past. Arlene Shrut was the sublime accompanist for the second half.
The reception afterward was held at the nearby New York Athletic Club, where camaraderie with the singers, celebrities and friends over cocktails, dinner and dessert was surely the pot of gold at the end of the musical rainbow. At our table were Bernard Feinerman and Sheila MacDougall, actors from the Brooklyn Heights Players, and Janet Schoor from the Brooklyn Philharmonia chorus.