The social set turned out in exceptionally fine feather for Houston Grand Opera's exuberant "Concert of Arias," which once again thrilled a sellout audience with performances by eight up-and-coming opera talents, each vying for a place in HGO's elite Opera Studio.
"This is a night all about finding those new performers for the future," Summers noted. "It's our favorite evening of all our calendar."
On this musical evening, Cullen Theater at Wortham Center dazzled with the glamorous collection of opera lovers, those attending the black-tie dinner that followed dressed in glittering splendor befitting a major gala. The beauty of this evening, beyond the sartorial splendor, was the voices of those participating in the 27th annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers.
"This is a night all about finding those new performers for the future," noted HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers. "It's our favorite evening of all our calendar."
Summers, HGO managing director Perryn Leech and Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, made their selections after each candidate performed two arias. Soprano Mane Galoyan of Armenia took the top $10,000 prize and a slot in the opera studio. Presenting that check was Dr. Dick Stasney, founder of the Houston Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine, a major sponsor of the evening.
Tenor Yongzhao Ya of China was recipient of the audience choice award, his remarkable high notes in "Nessum Dorma" playing a major role in that win. He also received the inaugural Ana Maria Martinez Young Developing Singer award. The diva was on hand to present the $2,500 grant for Ya's further opera study.
As chairs, Jana and Scotty Arnoldy set the glam pace of the evening that honored long-time opera patron and popular artist Mariquita Masterson.
Following the competition and a performance by Opera Studio members, the bedazzling throng adjourned to the Grand Foyer for champagne toasts and a scrumptious cold supper from Jackson and Co.
Among the opera patrons were Lynn Wyatt , Dian and Harlan Stai, Beth Madison, Frances Marzio, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Pat and Dan Breen, John Turner and Jerry Fischer of Baton Rouge, Donna and Robert Bruni, Susan Stasney, Glen Rosenbaum and Bobbie-Vee and Jerry Cooney.