The 12th Harold Haugh Light Opera Vocal Competition, held in the Jackson Symphony Hall, Jackson, MI, March 7, 2015, was heavily contested, with tenths of a point often separating the contestants. The singers, who traveled from Wisconsin to Connecticut to compete, have become more familiar with what wins this unique event… namely the ability to combine acting with vocal talent, and made the final decisions difficult.
The $2500 first place winner was Kisma Jordan, a soprano from Detroit, MI, who displayed a mature voice with impressive phrasing. She opened with a beautiful rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime,” then added “Ach, Ich Fuhl’s” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute and “Depuis Le Jour from Charpentier’s Louise. The warmth of her voice, elegant style and committed acting ability won over the judges.
Mezzo-soprano Heather McCallum, currently a student at Michigan State University, took home a second place award of $1500 with her performances of Rossini’s “Crude Sorte” from L’Italiana in Algeri, “Gooch’s Song” from Herman’s Mame and “Us” from Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath.
Third Place and $750 was won by Amy Yekel, a soprano from Ohio, who impressed the judges with the her large voice and impressive acting. Her rendition of “My Man’s Gone Now” from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess brought tears to the eyes of several in the audience.
The Roger Wertenberger Audience Favorite Award went to soprano Rachel Sparrow, who returned after winning second place in last year’s competition. A coloratura soprano, Rachel wowed the audience and the members of the Western High School Select Choir with “Una Voce Poco Fa” from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and “The Girl in 14G.”
The Shirley Verrett Young Artist Award winner was Kyle White, a 20 year old baritone studying at Michigan State University. Kyle pleased the audience with his rendition of “Largo Al Factotum from Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.”
The judges could not restrict themselves to seven finalists, due to the closeness of the ballots. The remaining five finalists, each winning $200, were bass Zachary Elmassian, tenor Isaac Frishman, soprano Sandra Periord, soprano April Martin, and soprano Elyse Kakacek.
Judges for the competition were Melanie Helton (Michigan State University), Carmen Pelton (University of Michigan), David Troiano (Wayne State University), Nada Radakovich (Vocal Instructor, Flint, MI) and Thomas Petiet (Managing Director, The Comic Opera Guild). The event was produced by John Guidinger. Brad Rondeau and Heidi Miles officiated.