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June 26, 2009 Arts and Entertainment

Adler Fellows Leah Crocetto And Heidi Melton Take Top Honors At 2009 José Iturbi...

From: San Francisco Opera
Adler Fellows Leah Crocetto And Heidi Melton Take Top Honors At 2009 José Iturbi International Music Competition

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Current San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows Leah Crocetto and Heidi Melton took top honors at the third annual José Iturbi International Music Competition last weekend in Los Angeles. Crocetto, a first-year Adler Fellow and 2008 Merola Opera Program alumna, won the $50,000 first prize in the vocal division as well as the $3,000 Spanish Prize and the $3,000 People’s Choice Award. Melton, a third-year Adler Fellow and 2006 Merola Opera Program alumna, won the $25,000 second prize in the vocal division.

The José Iturbi Foundation hosts the José Iturbi International Music Competition for singers and pianists every summer at University of California at Los Angeles. The week-long competition features several rounds of auditions before a live audience and panel of judges, which has been likened to a classical version of “American Idol.” Awarding over $250,000 in cash prizes, the José Iturbi Competition boasts the largest cash bounty of any classical singing and piano competition in the world. Open to singers and pianists between the ages of 17 and 32, the competition brings international attention to some of the greatest emerging classical musicians. Named for composer, conductor and pianist José Iturbi, who made a name for himself in the 1940s and ‘50s performing in seven MGM musical films, the José Iturbi Foundation was created as a nonprofit organization in 1985 and is dedicated to fulfilling his mission of “globally expanding passion for classical music through dynamic competition and compelling live performance.” In 2007, the competition’s inaugural year, the winner of the first prize vocal division award was former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and Merola Opera Program participant Karen Slack.

Soprano Leah Crocetto has recently worked with Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony on Verdi’s Requiem; she performs the piece in November 2009 with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Crocetto is a former member of the Sarasota Opera Apprentice Artists Program, where she received the Sarasota Opera Guild Excellence in Performance Award. She is a 2008 Shoshana Foundation Award winner, second place winner in the Florida Suncoast Opera Guild Competition, and a former winner of the Bel Canto Foundation Competition and the Italian American Foundation Award. The soprano was also an Anna Maria di Panni Bel Canto finalist, a Metropolitan Opera National Council District winner and Regional Finals Second Place winner. She recently was awarded a $10,000 Shenson Performing Arts Fellowship from the San Francisco Foundation. Crocetto makes her San Francisco Opera debut as Sister Dolcina in Puccini’s Suor Angelica in September 2009.

Soprano Heidi Melton made her San Francisco Opera debut as Marianne in Der Rosenkavalier in 2007. Later that year she appeared as Diane in Iphigénie en Tauride and created the role of Mary Todd Lincoln in Appomattox. Most recently she stepped in for Patricia Racette as soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem conducted by San Francisco Opera Music Director Donald Runnicles. Melton recently debuted with Opera Company of Philadelphia as Gertrude in Hänsel und Gretel and sang Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera at Opera National Bordeaux. She was a first prize winner of the $10,000 2009 George London Award, the 2008 Sara Tucker Study Grant, the third place prize winner in the Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition, a national semi-finalist at the 2006 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and winner of the 2006 Mario Lanza Competition. Upcoming engagements include the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos with Opera National Bordeaux, Chrysothemis in Elektra with Milwaukee Symphony, the Second Maid in Elektra with the Metropolitan Opera and Ada in Die Feen with Frankfurt Opera.

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