Now you can see as well as hear the first, second, and third place winners of Quest for the Best 2015, in both graduate and undergraduate divisions. Videos from the 2016 Quests for the Best are coming soon.
The twelfth annual Quest for the Best was held March 28, 2015, at Holsclaw Hall on the UA campus. Attendees heard 14 promising young singers (8 undergraduates and 6 graduate students) and enjoyed a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception. The awards, determined by audience ballot, are shown below.
|$1500||OGSA in honor of Vivian and Robert Weede, Jr.||Ivette Ortiz, soprano|
|OGSA in honor of outgoing president Carol Garrard||Brian McNiff|
|Carol and John Garrard and OGSA||Xiao Xiao Fan|
|Patricia and Patrick Schifano and OGSA||Bryce Tomlin|
|$1000||Arizona Opera Company||James Mendola|
|$750||Susan and Frank Finkenberg and OGSA||Clare Demer|
|Carolyn and Russ Russo Scholarship Fund||Laura Broscow|
|The Swedish Award, from Eva and Hans Bennich||Michelle Perrier|
The technical staff of the UA Fred Fox School of Music graciously recorded all the arias. You can listen and/or download them by clicking on the files below, which are shown in the order performed.
Note: Flash player is required.
2015 Graduate Arias
2015 Undergraduate Arias
Cultural Sparkplugs in Oro Valley
The Opera Guild is proud to name this year’s top graduate student award in honor of Vivian and Robert Weede, Jr. They have brought music to thousands in our community.
Vivian and Robert have fate to thank for their opera and symphony activities in Southern Arizona. Vivian had sung Nedda in Pagliacci and Tatiana in Eugene Onegin for Seattle Opera when Glynn Ross was executive director; at the time of their move he held a similar position in Tucson. Soon the Weedes were active in OGSA; Vivian served as president; Robert serves on our advisory council.
Fate and coincidence entered their lives at other points as well. Robert spent the second year of his life in Milano, Italy, where his father, Metropolitan Opera baritone Robert Weede, was studying. Vivian and Robert spent a year in Milano some 25 years later studying with Italian Maestro Franco Ferraris and greeting their first son, Bob.
Vivian started her theatrical career at age seven, appearing on Broadway with Fredric March in The American Way. Two decades later her father-in-law appeared as The Most Happy Fella, a most operatic musical by Frank Loesser, on Broadway.
During World War II Vivian did French language broadcasts overseas for the Office of War Information. She was later fated to sing operatic roles in French including Marguerite in Faust and Bizet’s Carmen. Prior to her début at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as Violetta, she sang “Sempre libera” as a showgirl at Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe in New York.
Robert Sr. toured the South Pacific with violinist Isaac Stern in the first classical music venture to that war zone, and Robert Jr. led a project of re-warehousing on Guam after the war, and also entertained on troop ships.
Robert and Vivian sang leading roles together in Northern California in La traviata, Madama Butterfly, Die Fledermaus, Carmen and The Gypsy Baron. Vivian also did lead roles in Tosca, La Boheme, and Cavalleria Rusticana.
On retiring from a marketing and management career, Robert and Vivian moved to Southern Arizona where he and a friend, Dick Eggerding, founded The Greater Oro Valley Arts Council in 1997, producing jazz concerts, arts festivals and concerts by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra .
GOVAC grew to become the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, a presenter of over 150 events, including Opera 101 with Vivian as narrator. Robert and SAACA will present a benefit concert of the Tucson Repertoire Orchestra in May of 2015.
The Weedes continue to bring the magic of opera to new generations of opera lovers. In addition to OGSA’s previews, Vivian shares her musical knowledge with enrollees in lifelong learning classes. Vivian and Robert enjoy sharing their love of music and the arts with the citizens of Tucson. Sometimes fate lends a hand, but if it doesn’t, they find a way.
Top 2014 Award Hails Their Achievements
The Opera Guild is proud to name this year’s top graduate student award in honor of Suzanne and Richard Clark, whose lives have intertwined with the Guild since its founding. Their stories illustrate what the Guild is all about.
No one has a better pedigree as a Tusconan or as an opera singer than Richard Clark. He is descended from several of the pioneer Hispanic families known as tucsonenses, a seventh-generation ancestor having been a Spanish soldier at the Presidio in 1775. A dramatic baritone, Richard sang 192 performances at the Metropolitan Opera spanning ten years, including 20 radio broadcasts and four telecasts. He also appeared with opera companies around the country and around the world, including, of course, Arizona Opera.
His roles included the meat of the Verdi baritone repertoire—Rigoletto, Nabucco, Germont in Traviata, Count di Luna in Trovatore, Amonasro in Aïda, Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera, Paolo in Simon Boccanegra—as well as Scarpia in Tosca, Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana, Tonio in Pagliacci, and many more.
He credits the Opera Guild and our first president, Ruth Booth, with starting him on his road to success. In our first year, 1958, an OGSA grant enabled Richard to continue studying at the University of Arizona after a bad knee ended his football scholarship. After further musical studies and three years in the U.S. Marine Corps, OGSA again gave Richard an assist, enabling him to attend the Merola Opera Training Program at the San Francisco Opera. His success there earned him a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music. There he met Suzanne, and, smart man that he is, he married her the next year.
Suzanne, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a graduate of Marquette University, and also attended the University of Paris and the Juilliard School. She sang with the Young Artist Program at the Santa Fe Opera and at the Central City Opera.
In 1981, with Richard’s career booming, they moved to his home town, where Suzanne became development director and, later, business manager, of Arizona Opera. In time Suzanne became active in the Opera Guild, serving on our Board. Notably, she founded Quest for the Best and served as chairman for the first three years. She remains active on the Tucson music scene, having served on the UA School of Music’s Music Advisory Board, and is in her twenty-second year in residential real estate.