FanFaire 1998

Awards Recognizing Individual Artistry

ARIA is a donor-advised fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Inc. Established in 1994 by Douglas and Wilmer Thomas of Salisbury, CT. and James S. Marcus of New York, ARIA's mission is to identify, enrich, and encourage the promising careers of exceptionally talented native-born or naturalized American opera singers. The ARIA program annually grants three $15,000 awards to vocal artists of exceptional ability and undeniable promise for important careers. The first awards were given in 1995 and the nine artists recognized thus far are already making their mark in the operatic scene.

Unlike other programs, ARIA is not a competition. The artists do not know they are being considered; rather, they are selected from a list of candidates submitted by some of the opera world's most illustrious professionals who make up both the Advisory Board and the Recommending Panel, the latter being a group of opera professionals who remain anonymous and are involved in every phase of the awards program. The singers do not audition. The Board and Panel members nominate singers of proven ability based on past achievement and who they feel have unusual promise:

Is the singer one they would engage,
whose recordings they would buy,
whom they have worked with
and would wish to do so again?

Thus, ARIA candidates are artists who have gone beyond the formative stages of apprenticeship and training and have launched their operatic careers. The awardees are then invited to serve as Recommenders for the succeeding years. ARIA winners are announced in the spring of each year. The past winners are:

Michelle DeYoung mezzo-soprano
Jorge Garza tenor
Jon Villars tenor
Stephanie Blythe mezzo-soprano
Christine Goerke soprano
Frank Hernandez baritone
Nicolle Foland soprano
Vivica Genaux mezzo-soprano
Juliana Rambaldi soprano

The Chairman of ARIA's Advisory Board is Speight Jenkins, General Director of the Seattle Opera. Karen Kriendler Nelson of KKN Enterprises and formerly long-time Executive Director of the Richard Tucker Music Foundation is ARIA's Program Director. Mrs. Douglas Thomas is the Chairman of the ARIA Board; she served for 10 years as Gulf Coast Regional Chairman of the Metropolitan Opera National Council's Auditions Program. Mr. James S. Marcus, ARIA's President, was formerly Chairman of the Board of the Metropolitan Opera and continues to be involved with the MET and many other institutions.

In its "Conquistador" issue, FanFaire features 1997 awardee, mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux . Readers can look forward to learning about past and future awardees in coming issues.

The 1998 ARIA winners are here!!!! Check BILLBOARD.

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