Finalist For New York Opera Will Perform May 4

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A tenor and a coloratura, a dramatic and a mezzo-soprano, will bring an afternoon of arias and Broadway songs to Payson May 4.

The Sunday concert at The Rim Club is open to the public as a fund-raiser for Friends of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in Payson (FOMA).

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Ryan Keller, Rena Sue Brown, Amy Yekel and Jamilyn Manning-White are ready to sing "The Champagne Song" from Der Fledermaus by Johann Strauss.

"We will perform famous arias and duets, musical theater numbers and songs from Phantom of the Opera so there is something everyone can enjoy," coloratura soprano, Jamilyn Manning-White said.

Opera allows her to "move people to tears and laughter, sorrow and joy through music."

FOMA raises money throughout Arizona in support of opera singers.

Manning-White, Ryan Keller, Rena Sue Brown and Amy Yekel are the four 2007 Arizona finalists in the New York Metropolitan Opera's annual competition.

Manning-White was also a top-10 finalist at the New York Met's regional competition.

"When you are in school, you are honing your skills and languages. The competition is wonderful and provides you great exposure to art directors from different companies," she said.

FOMA raises money throughout Arizona in support of opera singers.

Music has been Manning-White's passion since she was a child listening to her mother, a concert pianist, play and listening to her grandmother sing opera.

"I was blessed to receive a great direction for what I wanted to do at a young age," she said.

The coloratura will graduate in May with her master's degree in opera and theater performance from Arizona State University.

She loves to perform because it is exciting under the lights and fun to dress in costumes, make-up and wigs.

"I love to share bits and pieces of myself with hundreds and hopefully thousands of people," she said.

A coloratura soprano comes from Italian opera-style of singing fast furious passages in music.

Yekel is a dramatic soprano, usually associated with large sound, like Wagnerian sopranos.

Brown is a mezzo-soprano. This means she sings in the range between soprano and contralto.

These lower-range female singers often play men or young boys as well as women in operas.

Keller is the quartet's pure tenor.

"Tenors are hard to come by; most men are actually baritones. Ryan is a lyric tenor. He has a bright voice and a clean sound that gives his voice carrying power," Manning-White said.

The student benefit

A portion of the funds FOMA raises from the May 4 concert sponsorships and the $75 per person ticket sales will go toward the establishment of a Rim Country music scholarship fund, event chairperson, Louise Anslow said.

Anslow, a retired music teacher and administrator, believes the concert is a show with multiple benefits.

It supports opera in Arizona. It supports culture in Payson and as FOMA's brochure says: "The arts give vision and voice to our challenges and triumphs, our fears and aspirations."

FOMA also seeks businesses or individuals to sponsor tickets for "musically talented students in Payson.

Individual tickets for the concert are $75 and include a buffet supper following the 3 p.m. show. Sponsorship levels are $250, $500 and $1,000. Both are tax-deductible. For tickets or sponsorships, call (928) 476-2720.

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