Congratulations to all the singers who helped make this year’s Quest for the Best an outstanding success. Thanks to the generosity of donors and attendees we awarded $10,600 in prizes, with all singers receiving prize money. See who won the top awards, and view (or download) all the graduate and undergraduate arias.
This year’s free member party will feature the first prize winners of last month’s Quest for the Best. Baritone Octavio Moreno (graduate division) and soprano Emily Garcia (undergraduate) will be accompanied by pianist Kyungsun Choi. Refreshments will be served, courtesy of our Board and Hospitality Committee.
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Place: The home of Philippe Bodin, 5631 N. Campbell Avenue, 520-603-2869
Meet the Performers
Soprano Emily Garcia is a 21- year-old junior at the University of Arizona studying vocal performance with Prof. Andrew Stuckey. She hopes to one day make a career singing on stages throughout the world. Emily placed as the second alternate in the 2018 President’s Competition which allowed her the honor of a solo performance with the Arizona Symphony in the Presidents Concert this past February. Last year she won first place at NATS, and this year she won both the Amelia Reiman Competition and Quest for the Best. She has also placed first in the Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition, placed in the top 3 of at the Classical Singer Vocal Competition and placed as a finalist in the Hal Leonard Vocal Competition. Emily has also appeared in several operas with the U of A Opera including, Dialogues of the Carmelites, L’enfant et les sortileges, and The Elixir of Love. She has also performed many other times throughout the Tucson community with groups such as Sons of Orpheus as their soprano soloist.
Baritone Octavio Moreno participated in the Artist Program at the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia. He is currently working on his doctorate of music at the University of Arizona. His repertoire includes Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Zurga in The Pearl Fishers, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte, Lopez Ibanez in Arizona Lady, Laurentino in Cruzar la cara de la luna, Germont in La Traviata, Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, the title role in Rigoletto, Belcore in The Elixir of Love, and more. He has performed with Chicago Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris), Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City), and Arizona Opera, among others. Future engagements include Laurentino in Cruzar la cara de la luna with both Houston Grand Opera and Ecuador Opera.
Pianist Kyungsun Choi, a native of Seoul, South Korea, graduated from Yonsei University in Seoul, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance. He attended the University of Northern Iowa on a full tuition scholarship, receiving a Masters of Music degree under Professor Sean Botkin and serving as a graduate teaching assistant. He received a doctoral degree (D.M.A) in Piano Performance at the University of Arizona, studying under Dr. Paula Fan and again serving as a graduate teaching assistant. Dr. Choi has enjoyed a varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, accompanist and teacher, and has given many solo and chamber recitals locally and internationally. He has appeared twice as a soloist with Tucson Repertory Orchestra, playing the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor”. He has served as a rehearsal pianist/coach for many operas, including works of Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, Bizet, Mascagni, Offenbach, Sondheim, Mechem, Menotti, Argento, Britten and Bernstein.
A sunny afternoon at the home of member Carmen Dolny provided the setting for great singing by Asleif Willmer and delicious Spanish cuisine by Maria Teresa Limón, as OGSA threw a pre-Valentine’s Day party. Thanks also to Leslie Clark, who produced a slide show of the festivities. (When you’re on the page, click the right-pointing arrow to the right of the headline to start the show.)
Asleif, who won the Guild’s Quest for the Best in 2011 as an undergraduate, enchanted the gathering with two arias from Don Giovanni, in the role of Zerlina, and two from The Marriage of Figaro, as Susanna. Her lyric coloratura soared as she brought these characters to life. Then, audience members bid to hear two additional arias, the Silver Song from The Ballad of Baby Doe, and “Je veux vivre” from Romeo and Juliet.
With her DMA at Arizona State University completed, Asleif has already been hired by Saratoga Opera for this summer. She will also be Juliette in a cabaret production of Romeo and Juliet in Manhattan. Asleif is marked for stardom, and those at Quest in 2011 saw and heard her here first! Discover more future stars and enjoy a reception at this year’s Quest for the Best, on March 24 at Holsclaw Hall.
If you have not yet been to one of our previews, you will definitely want to explore this bite-sized operatic adventure! If you have, you know they are not to be missed. Talented student artists, top Tucson professionals, UA faculty, and local opera experts make these one-hour introductions the perfect way to whet your appetite for opera. Both locations, Brown Bag Opera at Grace-St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Say Hello to Opera at Oro Valley Public Library, give a live musical experience in an intimate setting. And it’s the best priced ticket in town!
This season we will once again offer five previews; please see the full schedule. Our first, presented October 4 at 3:00 p.m. in OV and October 6 at noon in Tucson, is a new concept. Entitled “Tucson Opera Showcase,” it features three of the venues that help make Tucson a great opera town. Our tradition of previewing AZ Opera’s productions continues with the innovative Hercules vs Vampires. Don’t be afraid! It’s a real opera that has been staged in Portland, Oregon, and Los Angeles, and we’ll tip you off about the unique format! The second opera venue in this preview is the University of Arizona’s Opera Theater. Student artists from the Opera Scenes class will be featured in this segment. And finally, the young Arizona Rose Opera Theater will be represented by two of their performing artists. Popular narrator Betty Allen will weave these three diverse groups into an appealing program for you.