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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Contest rewards outstanding singers

    Advanced voice students will compete for more than $2,000 in awards Sunday at the 19th Annual Amelia Rieman Opera Competition in Crowder Hall, thanks to a generous endowment by an adamant supporter of the arts.

    Raised in a tenement in Lithuania, 101-year-old Amelia Rieman earned a master’s degree from Harvard, sang at music halls in Boston and taught for years in private schools before retiring to Green Valley in the 1960s. In 1989, she set up an endowment for the School of Music and Dance, which funds scholarships as well as the annual contest.

    “”We are so grateful that she supports this competition,”” said Charles Roe, director of opera theater and the Amelia Rieman Chair.

    Each of the 16 contestants, divided into group one and group two – ages 24-33 and 18-23, respectively – prepares five arias and art songs. From these, the student performs a work of his or her choice first, followed by one determined by a panel of judges. Each performance lasts about 6-7 minutes, Roe said, and the first-place cash prize for group one is $1,000.

    Adjudicating the competition will be Korby Myrick, a UA alumna who works for the Arizona Opera, and Gustavo and Sarah Halley, teachers at a summer institute in Graz, Austria. They will judge performances by a slew of criteria, including “”operatic potential, voice quality and development, musicality, diction and expressiveness,”” Roe said.

    Because judges consider all these facets, the performers are especially careful with their musical selections – “”Whatever shows you in the best light,”” said Dennis Tamblyn, a musical arts doctorate student. “”It’s all about the choice of your piece.””

    Tamblyn will sing “”A Letter From Sullivan Ballou,”” by Broadway composer John Kander (of “”Chicago”” fame).

    The text of the operatic solo is taken directly from a real-life letter from a Civil War soldier, whose letter preceded his death by one week.

    “”It’s a little unconventional,”” Tamblyn said, “”but I think people can emotionally connect to it, especially at a time when we’re in a war.””

    For anyone unfamiliar with opera or intimidated by 5-hour Wagner epics, the Amelia Rieman Opera Competition is an ideal introduction. “”It’s opera without any of the intermediate stuff,”” Roe said. “”This is what it’s all about.””

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