The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

Mark Diamond sparkles at Houston Grand Opera competition

CCM Opera wanted to share this article that was written about masters student Mark Diamond. In February of this year he placed first place in HGO’s Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers.

Baritone tops field of eight at HGO Concert of the Arias

By EVERETT EVANS
Houston Chronicle
From February 9th, 2011

More than 700 applied, but Mark Diamond was chosen.

The 23-year-old baritone took first place in Houston Grand Opera’s 23rd annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers. The winners were selected during last week’s Concert of Arias at Wortham Theater Center, the final round in which eight singers each performed two arias.

“I did not expect to win,” Diamond says, “so it’s pretty exciting. HGO is an amazing company, and this competition has a spectacular reputation.”

Diamond won with his performances of the arias Hai già vinta la causa from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen from Eric Wolfgang Korngold’s Die tote Stadt.

Frederica von Stade, the legendary mezzo who last week completed her farewell opera engagement in HGO’s Dead Man Walking, joined general director Anthony Freud and music director Patrick Summers in selecting the winners.

Baritone Thomas Florio won the second-place prize; soprano Lauren Snouffer won third place, and bass Adam Lau received the Audience Choice Award.

A native of Augusta, Ga., Diamond is working toward his master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He hadn’t planned on a career singing opera when he began his undergraduate studies in music education at Georgia Southern University.

“I was planning to teach choral music,” he says. “But voice lessons were required. I found I had a gift for singing and decided to nurture it. As soon as I made an effort, I began getting encouragement, good feedback and opportunities with summer programs like the Aspen Music Festival and Glimmerglass.”

Once such a career goal is identified, Diamond says, it’s natural to enter competitions.

“You’re surrounded by people in the same league, or slightly ahead, and you know what all of them are doing. Teachers and mentors encourage you. Of course, it’s tricky to keep the right balance. You have to maintain a level of confidence in yourself that’s pretty high — but you also have to keep a humble attitude in knowing there are a lot of greatly talented people out there. And competitions are subjective.”

Diamond, recipient of a 2010 Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation, recently made his Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra debut as a soloist in George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. This summer, he will participate in the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program, singing Figaro in Gaetano Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.

More than 700 singers from around the world applied for this year’s competition. Two rounds of auditions in four U.S. cities selected 20 semi-finalists, who came to Houston for the next round of auditions, which narrowed the field to the eight who sang in the Concert of Arias.

More than 700 singers from around the world applied for this year’s competition. Two rounds of auditions in four U.S. cities selected 20 semi-finalists, who came to Houston for the next round of auditions, which narrowed the field to the eight who sang in the Concert of Arias.

All proceeds from the event benefit the Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers and the HGO Studio’s outreach efforts to attract and nurture the best young talent.

Diamond has accepted an offer to join the HGO Studio, beginning in fall 2011.

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