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About 50 opera fans gathered in the Grand Ballroom of Mount Vernon’s Engineers Club on Monday for the first of two evenings of Baltimore Concert Opera’s open auditions entitled So You Think You Can Sing Opera? And that’s exactly what happened as 22 artists sang a cumulative 30+ arias over the course of the evening. The highlight for me was at the end of the first half when soprano Rachel Joselson and mezzo-soprano Laura Zuiderveen offered their auditions.  Joselson sang the “Salce, salce/Ave Maria” scene from Act IV of Verdi’s Otello with beauty and finesse. Joselson is obviously a very seasoned artist as she created a stunning arc musically and dramatically from beginning to end. Zuiderveen, rich-voiced and theatrically commanding, sang Wagner’s “Weiche Wotan weiche!” from Das Rheingold and “Mon Coeur s’ouvre a ta voix from Samson and Dalilah. Other standouts of the evening include Kevin Wetzel’’s rendition of Valentin’s “Avant de quitter ces lieux” from Faust and Theresa Bickham’s Silver Aria from The Ballad of Baby Doe.  BCO’s General Director Brendan Cooke offered his usual witty commentary, helping the audience and singers release any tension or preconceived notions they may have had about this format.

Due to a previous engagement, I had to leave before the last three singers took to the stage.

Auditions continue tonight starting at 7pm.  For $10 at the door, you can experience when American Idol meets opera in an up-close and personal setting.  The Engineers Club is business casual, so remember, no jeans or Simon Cowell black t-shirts.  For more information, visit www.BaltimoreConcertOpera.com.

Monica Boldt sings at BCO's open auditions Monday evening.

Monica Boldt sings at BCO's open auditions Monday evening.