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Subject: Giulio Gari Foundation Presents 2016 International Vocal Competition Winners
From: Judy Pantano <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Judy Pantano <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 6 Oct 2016 11:16:02 -0400
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Giulio Gari Foundation Presents 2016 International Vocal Competition Winners

A review by Nino Pantano

The New York Athletic Club on 59th Street and Central Park South was the venue for an 
unforgettable evening of remembrance and celebration on the evening of Sunday, 
September 25th. The evening was dedicated to Glen Gary, beloved son of Giulio and 
Gloria Gary who passed away a few months ago. May his spirit soar as music reigns.

Greetings were given by Chairman of the Board Gloria Gari, always a source of 
inspiration and courage and Artistic Adviser Stephen De Maio who always pans for vocal 
gold and finds it! 

Our host of the evening was Brian Kellow who has written best selling books and was 
famed for his many articles in Opera News. Mr. Kellow instantly draws the attention of 
those present by his intimate warmth, vast knowledge and great love for opera and 
people. Kellow introduced the two honored guests beginning with the Metropolitan Opera 
and Grammy Award winner soprano Ana Maria Martinez who accepted her award with 
humility and grace. I recall her in concert with Andrea Bocelli and I was dazzled by her 
clarion angelic voice and its passionate and beautiful qualities. Ms. Martinez, who is from 
Puerto Rico, is truly an ambassador of opera to the world. Her recent Madama Butterfly 
at the Metropolitan Opera won rave reviews.

Soprano Catherine Malfitano brought back wonderful memories of both the New York City 
Opera (NYCO) and the Metropolitan Opera (Met Opera) where her acting and singing 
made for performances of blazing intensity. Ms. Malfitano who was born in New York, told 
the awardees and the audience to "share the passion" and the importance of "words 
matter." She is presently both opera director and teacher and her mission continues.

Unfortunately Rolando Villazon, acclaimed Metropolitan Opera tenor was unable to attend.

Jin Sol baritone sang "Di provenza il mar, il suol" from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi. Mr. 
Sol's lyric baritone had both ardent and sweet qualities and he used his "brakes" to soften 
and slow down so that the moments of soft lyrical sound and bursts of intensity were well 
contrasted. A good and proper job for this beautiful aria. Sol accepted his 2nd prize award 
from Tarquin M. Callen.

The duet from Puccini's La Boheme,"O soave fanciulla," was next with soprano Antonina 
Chehovska and tenor Fanyong Du. Ms. Chehovska's sweet and ardent soprano was a 
perfect blend with Mr. Du's tender tenor and their walking towards the exit while capping 
the high C had its sealing the discovery of young love in a rhapsodic and indelible 
moment. Tamie Laurance and Joyce Greenberg from the Giulio Gari Foundation presented 
the awards.

The quartet from Puccini's La Boheme followed - "Addio dolce svegliare" with Antonina 
Chehovska, soprano, Marco Cammarota tenor, Meryl Dominguez, soprano and Andrew 
Manea baritone. A quartet that doubled ones pleasure was a poignant Mimi, a robust 
lamenting Rodolfo, an exasperated vocally rich Marcello and a vibrant outstanding and 
sparkling Musetta.  Awards were given by Lucia Derosa, Dr. Philip and Mrs. Frezzo, Robert 
Fellows Esq. and Dr. Barry Schenk.

"O Mimi tu piu non torni" from Puccini's La Boheme followed with Jamez McCorkle tenor 
and Norman Garrett baritone. Mr. McCorkle's ringing  tenor voice was captivating as the 
heartbroken poet and blended with Mr. Garrett's caressing and mellow baritone. Both 
cannot focus on their activities because they long for their sweethearts. The blend was as 
warm as a cappuccino with cinnamon after a jog in the autumn chill. The ever dapper Karl 
Michaelis presented the award from the Lissner Charitable Fund.

On the lighter side, Christopher Magiera stepped in and replaced someone who cancelled  
and sang "I'm going to Maxim's" from Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow and his provocative 
baritone filled the void with mayhem and merriment. Magiera's instrument has power, 
color and vitality and he helped remove the melancholy of the poor Bohemians in that 
garret in Paris with this lively tuneful melody of the fabled Parisian nightspot maxims.

A bit of Mozart followed with "La ci darem la mano" from Don Giovanni with Hanna 
Ludwig, mezzo soprano and Pawel Konik, bass baritone. Konik's beguiling basso caught 
the soul of Zerlina, whose saucy and sparkling mezzo became entangled in his basso 
lasso. The reluctant bride yielded big time to her new suitor as they ran offstage together 
with her leading the way. Betty Cooper Wallerstein, Louise Simmons and Robert Funck 
presented the awards.

Daniel Bates sang "Una furtiva lagrima" from Donizetti's Elisir d'amore. His is a purely 
"American" sound and recalled such tenors as James Melton, Charles Kullmann, Dennis 
Day and Jerry Hadley. Bates sang in a straightforward manner - sweet but not saccharine 
including a strong cadenza and finale. The award was given by Amazon.com, Inc. in 
memory of Glen Gary.

Sava Vemic-tall and imposing, sang a noble and glorious" A te l'estremo addio - Il 
lacerato Spirito" from Verdi's Simone Boccanegra. His basso cantante was thrilling to hear 
for those who long for the days when Pinza and Siepi reigned. Mr. Vemic will be making 
his Met Opera debut as the High Priest in Nabucco this season. His "Prego Maria, per me" 
haunts the memory! The award was given by Stephen De Maio, President of the Gerda 
Lissner Foundation in which Vemic was a first prize winner. We heard Mr. Vemic sing at 
Rose Hall recently with Maestro Eve Queler's Opera Orchestra in Donizetti's Parisina 
d'Este. Maestro Queler was also present at the Gari Gala.

Lastly, first prize winner Vanessa Vasquez, sang "Un bel di" from Puccini's Madama 
Butterfly. Her soprano is clarion and powerful. Ms. Vasquez sang softly, much of the time 
and was a model of restraint. It was a reflective performance rather than an "all out" 
one. It was full of hope on the cusp of rage; more self deceit than selflessness.  Surely 
like the great Licia Albanese whose advice was "singing on the word" will help the 
promising Ms. Vasquez evolve into the perfect Butterfly. Ms. Vasquez's award was given 
by Dr. Lya Friedrich Pfeifer, President of the Max Kade Foundation.

The gifted pianists were Jonathan Kelley who appeared courtesy of the Metropolitan 
Opera and Arlene Shrut, both of whose accompaniment to the singers was sheer 
perfection.

We then all went into the dining room where great food, wines and desserts awaited one 
and all. As we entered we saw legendary Met dramatic soprano Elinor Ross, unforgettable 
Met mezzo Rosalind Elias and renowned coloratura soprano Harolyn Blackwell. Writer and 
stage designer Scott Barnes who was wearing his famous "bumble bee" pin was busy as a 
bee while buzzing around the festivities!

At our table we enjoyed the delightful company of Catherine Malfitano and her debonair 
husband Steve, the effervescent Sachi Liebergesell, President of the Licia Albanese-
Puccini Foundation and family and the urbane Michael Fornabaio from the Gerda Lissner 
Foundation. Many admirers stopped by our table to meet and greet Ms. Malfitano whose 
fans and admirers were thrilled to express their admiration. I cherish her internationally 
viewed Tosca with Placido Domingo on location in Rome as well as performances at New 
York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera.

There were many luminaries and friends in the audience. Sopranos and vocal judges 
Barbara Ann Testa and Teresa Apolei, Brooklyn born and bred soprano Elaine Malbin, who 
recorded with Mario Lanza and sang at New York City Opera and was a television pioneer 
with NBC Opera. Brooklynites Maestro Jan Wnek, Bill Ronayne, President of the Mario 
Lanza Society located in Brooklyn, Ken Benson, opera manager, Lou Barrella, noted 
educator and opera lecturer also from Brooklyn and Italian teacher/translator Cav. 
Edward Jackson, tenor Keith Johnson, Eva De La O from Musica De Camera, Meche Kroop, 
chef/writer all marveling at the talent displayed by the young performers.
 
Cornelia Beigel, Secretary of the Gerda Lissner Foundation lent her vivacious presence. 
Opera Index President Jane Shaulis and husband Executive Director Joseph Gasperec, 
composer and Vice Presidents Philip Hagemann and Janet Stovin and Treasurer Murray 
Rosenthal, were all excited about the new awardees. Nedra Zachary and Peter Hubner 
from the Loren L. Zachary Society for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles flew in for this 
splendid occasion.

Some background recordings by Giulio Gari were played including his brilliant "Celeste 
Aida" and clips from a future documentary on his life was also shown. Gari sang at both 
the New York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in the 1950's and 1960's and was 
loved for his voice and generosity. 

The crowd of several hundred were inspired by the voices of the past and the bright 
talented young voices of the future. This foundation through his widow Gloria Gari fulfills 
Giulio's dream of helping young singers in their careers.

**********************************************
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