Singing contest held for opera singers

 A music contest underway in the valley caters to a classical crowd. It may be a classical crowd traditionally, but the singers are amazing and young also. It's Arizona's version of American Idol for Opera singers. 

Soprano Sarah Costa studied vocal performance in college and recently studied in Brazil. Her voice is so engaging that her 11-month old daughter is spellbound. "If it's a really sad song she will cry, if it's a really happy song she generally dances to the music," said Sarah Costa.

Sarah joins 39 other singers in Phoenix Opera's "Southwest Vocal Competition," a showcase of AZ opera talent, judged by the professionals that can give that "big break."

"These are undiscovered talent, you don't know if Luciano Pavarotti the 2nd is going to walk onto our stage, you have no idea, and neither do I," said Gail Dubinbaum.

Mezzo Soprano Holly Sheppard works as a game designer by day, but logs off her computer to compete this weekend.

"We especially in Phoenix tend to think oh you know the arts are in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere but we have it here. We have the same level," said Holly Sheppard.

24-year-old Ji Lu actually left China to pursue his opera training in the valley. He says out perfect weather makes for the perfect mood to sing. "If I can perform in a Metropolitan Opera House, it's just amazing, that would be amazing, and that is my dream," said Ji Lu.

If Sarah, Holly or Ji Lu make it to the finals, they could walk away with as much as $5,000; a sum helpful to any singer as he or she continues to audition and train.

"We're giving these local singers the finest talent, 10 of the brightest young opera singers we have in our state the opportunity to sing for some very influential people and were hoping that it will be a life changing career launching opportunity," said Dubinbaum.

Rounds 1 and 2 of the competition happen this weekend at the Mayo Clinic on Shea. It's a free event and open to the public.

The final round will be held on February 8th at the Orpheum Theater where singers will perform with The Phoenix Symphony.
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