Opera Idol Competition At The Merion In Evanston

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The 9th Annual Opera Idol finale at The Merion, an event sponsored by The Merion and launched as a result of their relationship with neighboring Northwestern University, will be held on April 17th. The opera icon Sherrill Milnes will work with some of the finest talent from across the country as they vie for a $3000 scholarship to study further with him.

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“This is a highly-anticipated yearly event which showcases some of the finest young talent in the country,” said Margaret Gergen, executive director of The Merion.

Operatic contenders and their avid audience will be in the presence of greatness on April 17th. The universally acclaimed baritone Sherrill Milnes will be overseeing the grand finale of the 9th annual Opera Idol at The Merion in Evanston. The event is the culmination of a vocal competition, which has drawn aspiring opera singers from around the country. “This is a highly-anticipated yearly event which showcases some of the finest young talent in the country,” said Margaret Gergen, executive director of The Merion.

Opera Idol is the collaborative brainchild of Milnes and the non-profit organization VOICExperience which he founded with his wife, renowned soprano Maria Zouves, and management from The Merion who nurtured the program and raised it to a level that far exceeded anyone’s expectations. Opera Idol was developed to encourage budding opera stars in a format made famous by popular talent search television programs. An original pool of dozens of college and graduate students compete in a series of competitive rounds leading up to the April 17th Opera Idol finale.

The Merion has close ties with neighboring Northwestern University, and Gergen said that the seed for the program was planted when students from the school’s vocal program performed in the ballroom at The Merion ten years ago. “The connection between the residents and students was electric. You could feel it. The students loved having an admiring and appreciative audience and the residents loved that the kids had so much energy and passion for their music. It was a magical evening,” said Gergen. The next year, Milnes and Zouves asked if they could plan a repeat performance, but with the competitive format. After several years, Opera Idol really began to “take off,” said Gergen. “We now have some of the best aspiring opera stars from across the country applying.”

A panel of professional judges along with the audience, determine the outcome in each of the preliminary rounds. “The judges not only help with the ranking, but also provide comments and feedback available to the contestants. The students feel supported and encouraged whether they win or not,” said Gergen. In 2009 a junior competition was launched in order to encourage younger vocal students.

Milnes will conduct the final round of Opera Idol in a Master Class format. The grand-prize winner that evening will earn a $3000 scholarship along with airfare to a workshop directed by Milnes in Savannah, Georgia. The Merion recruits professional judges, coordinates the program, hosts the competitions and sponsors the scholarships.

The April 17th finale of Opera Idol is expected to draw a full capacity crowd of 200 to the Crystal Ballroom at The Merion. “The residents love it and so do many people from throughout the community,” said Gergen.

The Merion is a luxury senior apartment community for active, independent retirees seeking a hassle-free rental home in Evanston. Formerly known as The North Shore Hotel, The Merion has been totally renovated with upscale finishes and amenities. For additional information, visit http://www.MerionEvanston.com.

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Bridget Machalinski

Bridget Machalinski
@MerionEvanston
since: 09/2013
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