Best Free Opera (2006)
Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition
Easily the best-kept secret in the tony local opera enclave is the annual vocal competition for up-and-coming singers sponsored by The Dallas Opera Guild. Usually held in mid- to late March at Gooch Auditorium at UT Southwestern Medical Center, the competition was founded nearly 20 years ago to aid in the development of young opera singers. The auditions are open to all Texas residents between the ages of 18 and 30, and the awards are funded entirely through contributions garnered by Guild members. An afternoon preliminary round of auditions narrows the field to a top 10 who return in the evening to sing two arias. The level of singing ranges from satisfactory to sublime, and the repertoire represents all eras of operatic literature. A snooty blue-ribbon panel of judges makes the final calls, but one of the most fiercely contested battles is for the People's Choice Award which gives mere mortals the opportunity to participate. First-place winner in 2006 was the elegant Takesha Mesh Kizart, a 2003 UNT grad. But bringing down the house was youngster Steven LaBrie, 18, who sang with polish and panache beyond his years. As if enjoying the artistry of these exciting young singers isn't excuse enough to show up, a champagne and dessert reception is held after the singing is over. This event is free and open to the public. Bravo!
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