The first round of the Aria category of “Concours international de Montréal 2018” (CMIM) took place yesterday. Sixteen aspiring young singers from around the world, including four Canadians, gave their best effort in hopes to be part of the 12 chosen talents who will advance to the semi-finals and have the chance to sing at the Maison Symphonique with the participation of the OSM and conductor Graeme Jenkins. Next round will be held on June 4 and 5 at 19:30.
Here are my impressions of the second day of competition:
- The highlights of the day where the performances by Italian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo and South Korean Bass Jongsoo Yang. D’Angelo has the complete package: great comprehension of the text, model-like looks, great stage presence and sense of drama and a bright fresh sounding voice. Her Rossini “Contro un cor” was reminiscent of Callas, not necessarily for the colour of the voice, but for her ability to find meaning behind every vocalize. So far, she is the singer the has the most star-quality potential, demonstrating how simplicity and artistry are as important or even more than making and impressive sound.
- Jongsoo Yang showcased an instantly recognizable timbre. He had clear German diction an offered an overall good performance with very little flaws. He also showed a somewhat modest but charming personality. It is incredible that at his young age he is already a true Basso Cantabile.
- Tenor Konstantin Lee demonstrated great vocal technique and that alone might earn him a trip to the semifinals. However his interpretation didn’t leave a strong impression and could be perceived as self-indulgent. He seems to be captivated by his own voice at times. Note: He came in to replace Australian tenor Kang Wang who is recovering from illness.
- The jury is going to have a hard time deciding who moves on to the semifinals. Unlike the melody portion of the competition, there were a few performers who we can qualify as inevitable choices to advance to the semifinal. The rest of the candidates had all something interesting to offer but also showed clear weaknesses. In my humble opinion most of their difficulties stem from singing the wrong repertoire or in the inadequate range.
- The new formula of separating the art song and the arias presents some challenges: It doesn’t present enough variety for the public. I love Schubert Lied for example, but hearing Gretchen am Spinrade” about four times in 2 hours can get monotonous, the same goes with popular Arias. Another point is that the new format doesn’t allow the Aria contestants to either warm-up or rest their voices by singing a song. It also doesn’t give the public a chance to instantly discover the vocal contrast of the same singer, like it did before. It might also put a lot of pressure on the voices of singers who would like to participate in the two categories such in the case of John Brancy and Rihab Chaieb
I feel that mezzo Emily D’Angelo, bass Jongsoo Yan and tenor Konstantin Lee will advance to the semifinals. D’Angelo had a really strong performance so we are going to maintain our prediction that she will win first prize. However it will be a very close and a little mistake could cost greatly to any of the contestants.
Today we have 8 more contestants left in the first round of Aria award. They will be performing at Salle Bourgie at 19:30.