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Soprano sings Handel’s ‘Messiah’ for first time

Soprano Sydney Mancasola will be among the soloists when the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus present “Messiah.”

Soprano Sydney Mancasola will be among the soloists when the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus present “Messiah.”

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Soprano Sydney Mancasola has been expecting to sing George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” someday, although she’s had no idea when she would be asked to do it. Her performance of “Messiah” with the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus next Sunday marks the first time the Oberlin Conservatory graduate sings this landmark work in concert.

“I’ve assumed it would be a good fit for my voice, and it is,” said Mancasola. “The soprano part is challenging. It has a vast range to it. There are parts that are slow and connected and others that have an entirely different tempo. At one point I sing a big coloratura aria. It’s exciting. The soprano part has a lot of different textures to it.”

To prepare for this new part, Mancasola has been listening to recordings of some of her favorite singers and of singers recommended to her by colleagues.

“I’ve needed to absorb the style since I haven’t been singing a lot of Handel,” she explained. “I was a violinist when I grew up, and I played a lot of Handel on the violin. But I haven’t sung his work often.”

Earlier this year Mancasola, who is currently a resident artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, won the top prize in the Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition, second prize at the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition, first prize in the Loren L. Zachary National Vocal Competition and a grand prize at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Mancasola began her vocal studies in high school and was a vocal performance major at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where she was the recipient of the Margot Bos Standler Scholarship. She graduated in 2011.

When she’s not working toward her artist’s diploma at the Academy of Vocal Arts, she has performed the roles of Adina in “L’elisir d’amore,” Rosina in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” Mélisande in “Pelléas et Mélisande” and Antonia and Stella in “Les Contes d’Hoffmann.” In 2012 Mancasola was a Santa Fe Opera apprentice. Although she only took the main stage as a chorus member, she did appear in an apprentice concert.

Tom Hall conducts the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a performance that also features mezzo-soprano Lucia Cervoni, tenor Gregory Warren and bass/baritone Joseph Beutel.

Cervoni, who has performed with the Santa Fe Symphony and the Santa Fe Opera, was a prize winner at the Washington International Competition and a scholarship recipient of the Hugh Ross Award at The Manhattan School of Music. The Santa Fe Opera awarded her an Anna Case Mackay Grant. She also is a recipient of numerous grants from The Canada Council of the Arts.

Warren was a Santa Fe Opera apprentice during the summers of 2005-2007 while he was participating in the Domingo-Cafritz Program, which was founded in 2002 by Placido Domingo as a resident training program for artists on the verge of international careers. In 2012 Warren made his Carnegie Hall debut as the tenor soloist in “Flowers Over the Graves of War” composed by James Eakin.

Beutel, who won the Sullivan Foundation Career Development Award in 2011, has sung “Messiah” with Ensemble viii in Austin. In the summer of 2011 he covered the role of Mephistopheles in the Santa Fe Opera’s production of “Faust” by Charles Gounod. That same year he originated the role of the British Major in the world premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera “Silent Night” by composer Kevin Puts.