The Marian Anderson International Vocal Competition was won last week by Barbara Quintiliani, a 22-year-old soprano from Boston who graduated in May from the New England Conservatory and has already begun singing small roles with the Boston Lyric Opera. Quintiliani won a cash prize of $20,000 and concert engagements throughout the United States in the competition finals in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.
Her program, with Andre Raphel Smith conducting the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, included excerpts from the cycle "Les Nuits d'Ete" by Hector Berlioz and the scena "Wie nahte mir der Schlummer . . . Leise, Leise" from Carl Maria von Weber's opera "Der Freischutz."
The Anderson Competition, produced by the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, is the second major competition Quintiliani has won this year; the other was the national finals of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. In that competition, five winners were awarded prizes of $16,000 each. There was no designation of a first prize.
Quintiliani's repertoire includes such roles as Mozart's Donna Anna and Dvorak's Rusalka. This kind of heroic singing is usually reserved for more mature voices. "I'm only 22," she said in an interview, "but I have a big instrument for my age. I consider myself a big lyric soprano." She will be doing further auditions at the Met later this year, but so far has no firmly established plans. "I just love to sing," she said, "and I think that as long as I can sing I will be happy."
The second prize, $10,000, was won by bass Tigran Martirosian, 29, a native of Armenia now living in Austria and singing with several European and American opera companies. He sang the "Catalogue" aria from Mozart's "Don Giovanni," "Ella giammai m'amo" from Verdi's "Don Carlo" and Gremin's aria from Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin."
Mezzo-soprano Eleni Matos, 33, of Clearwater, Fla., has taken prizes in 28 previous international competitions, including first prizes in the Licia Albanese, Maria Callas, Queen Elizabeth and Luciano Pavarotti competitions. Her performance of Mahler's "Songs of a Wayfarer," the "Habanera" from "Carmen" and "Acerba, volutta" from Cilea's "Adriana Lecouvreur" won the $5,000 third prize.
Name: The University of Maryland's performing arts center, nearing completion on the College Park campus, has been officially named the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at Maryland in honor of the alumna and artist who has donated $15 million for an endowment fund to support its activities. The center will consist of 10 interconnected structures, including an 1,100-seat concert hall, a 650-seat proscenium theater, a 300-seat recital hall, 200-seat studio and dance theaters, a 100-seat experimental theater and a cafe.
Number One: Guess who is the top independent distributor of classical recordings in the United States? According to the industry-monitoring organization SoundScan (whose findings are the source of Billboard's charts), it is the busy, low-budget Naxos label, which has more than 1,750 titles in circulation at a list price of $6.99 per disc. Market share percentages are top secret, but SoundScan said that the Naxos figure was nearly double that of its closest competitor in the first quarter of this year. The low price certainly helps and so does a Naxos record, "Listen, Learn and Grow: Music to Stimulate and Inspire Young Minds," created (and released on Mother's Day) for distribution to an estimated 80,000 newborn children this year in Tennessee. But some basic policies also underlie the label's success. It considers the music more important than the performer and does not use or promote celebrity artists (although some have won a lot of fans); it records good, unfamiliar music as well as popular favorites--for example, the complete Haydn string quartets and a series of American classics, now in progress, that will include more than 200 titles.
Career Moves: The musical-chairs season is in full swing, with conducting vacancies being filled and others opening up. Leonard Slatkin, who has been the director of the Cleveland Orchestra's Blossom Festival since 1990, will leave the position when his contract expires next year and will be succeeded by Jahja Ling, resident conductor of the orchestra since 1985. Ling is also the music director of the Florida Orchestra, based in Tampa Bay, and artistic director of the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan.
In Europe, the continent's two most prominent music directorships have recently been filled, both with rather surprising choices: Simon Rattle as chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Seiji Ozawa as music director of the Vienna State Opera.
Quote: "It is astonishing how much bad music has been called good in the course of the 20th century and especially since the end of World War II." This startling but accurate remark is by Terry Teachout in Commentary magazine, introducing the last installment of his three-part series on music of the century. Essentially, the series is a chronological, annotated list of 50 masterpieces composed since 1900, and Part 3 was crucial, dealing with the period of atonal domination after World War II, too recent to be absolutely sure of what works will become classics. It is a good list and should be reprinted for music lovers in a more permanent form. Teachout is severe but not too severe with the atonalists. Their masterpieces are included (Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire," Berg's "Wozzeck" and Violin Concerto), though I think "Moses und Aron" deserved at least honorable mention.
Meanwhile, if you missed Teachout's thought-provoking essay on classical music's declining audience and changing market strategies, you can find it online in the Internet's Arts and Letters Daily (www.cybereditions.com/aldaily).