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Society / Featured Parties

The American Idol of Opera — Young Music Stars Battle in Houston

Even Better Than the Real Thing?

BY // 02.06.19
photography Priscilla Dickson, Wilson Parish

Many among the black-tie throng filling the seats at Wortham Theater Center‘s Cullen Theater were committing near-blasphemy as we overheard a chorus of “I think I enjoy this (the Concert of Arias) more than an actual opera.” Perhaps they were only half serious, but the exuberance that meets the Houston Grand Opera competition each winter could rival the reception often afforded HGO productions.

We doubt that HGO artistic and musical director Patrick Summers or managing director Perryn Leech, both center front at each year’s Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers, would be offended by the adoration that opera denizens bestow on the competition. After all, the stellar evening not only raised more than $600,000 for the HGO Studio but it also introduced the Houston audience to some of opera’s most promising stars of the future.

More than 500 up and coming singers from around the nation had entered the competition which was reduced to a final uber-talented pool of only eight, each of whom performed two arias aiming to garner the judge’s vote in an event affectionately known as “the American Idol of opera.” Winners were chosen by Summers and Leech and guest artist Lawrence Brownlee, who is starring in HGO’s current production of The Pearl Fishers.

The evening began with a champagne reception for all 700 guests. After the competition, some 500 formally-attired patrons and artists adjourned to the theater’s Grand Foyer for a late-night supper from City Kitchen. Over a late-night dinner of New York Strip Loin Roulade Picada and Pan Seared Yellowfin Tuna Escabeche, chairs Elizabeth and Richard Husseini took their bows as did the young singers, each of whom were seated at a major patron’s table.

PC Seen: Ana María Martínez, Dian and Harlan Stai, Beth Madison, Anne and Albert Chao, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Rini and Edward Ziegler, Glen Rosnbaum, Steve Hamilton and Tom LeClouox, Tony Bradfield, C.C. and Scott Ensell, David Duthu, Judy and Dick Agee, Drs. Liz Grimm and Jack Roth, Terrylin Neale and Laura and Brad McWilliams.

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