There are two superb institutions for the advanced training and development of singers here in Philadelphia. The oldest and most distinguished, and arguably the best such establishment in the world, is the Curtis Institute. And then there is the Academy of Vocal Arts, no mean performer and always a fantastic hunting ground for singers. And I have been in both today - a solid six hours of hearing much of the best young talent in this country.
Opera knows few international boundaries - so not surprisingly both Curtis and AVA have a good sprinkling of young people from around the world. If I were a teenager I would say that the quality ranges from amazing through spectacular to awesome. I think I should just say that the level never falls below exceptional and in some cases clearly reaches the pinnacle of what one can expect from 20 something full time students. There are always singers here who are going to go on to major international careers. Is this a vintage year? Maybe not....but it is an extremely good one and more than a handful will be going on to great things.
I will mention just two - a South African bass-baritone at AVA and a Chinese mezzo at Curtis, two young people who seem to me to epitomise and encapsulate the international world in which we live and work.
They were Musa Ngqungwana from Port Elizabeth and Nian Wang from Nanjing, China. More will be heard of these. But also, to be fair, of many of the others as well!
I was delighted to have Roger Weitz, COT's former General Manager and now General Director of Opera Omaha, with me all day. And it was, as always, such a pleasure to see Mikael Eliasen who runs the vocal department of Curtis. We had a good lunch together at Parc, just across the street from Curtis. And then, when all was done, supper was with David Devan, General Director of the Philadephia Opera. He is a star of the younger generation of administrators.
I leave Philadelphia on a 7:25 pm train tomorrow - another early night and early start for me.