Hendrix showed plenty of volume in her singing of “Geliebter, komm” from “Tannhäuser” and “Weiche, Wotan” from “Das Rheingold,” and her stellar performance of these pieces caused me to cast my vote for her. But I was very impressed with the beauty of Danholt’s voice as he sang “Nur eine Waffe taugt” from “Parsifal” and the Prize Song from “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.” Savage wonderfully captured the emotional content of “Amfortas! Die Wunde” from “Parsifal” and “Mein lieber Schwan” from “Lohengrin.” He also had power to spare and could express a restful quality that none of the other singers had. An independent testament to his ability came from orchestra, which could not see him, yet voted him as the best.
Lang-Lessing led the orchestra expertly. He seemed to be in complete sync with the singers. Overall, that made the quality of each aria very high. The judges were soprano Stephanie Blythe, stage director and former singer Peter Kazaras, incoming Seattle Opera general director Aidan Lang, record producer Evans Mirageas, and stage director Stephen Wadsworth.
Before the competition started, Jenkins introduced the audience to four new Wagner tubas which were made for Seattle Opera by Andreas Jungwirth, a brass instrument craftsman based in Vienna, Austria. Four members of the opera orchestra performed a motif from “Das Rheingold” and this was followed by a surprise gift, a newly-written leitmotif by Daron Hagen, whose opera “Amelia” was premiered by Seattle Opera in 2010. The Jenkins leitmotif started in the lower register in unison and gradually worked its way to a higher and fairly glorious chord at the end. The sound was very Wagnerian and could probably fit in somewhere in one of the “Ring” operas. After the applause died down, Jenkins announced that Seattle Opera is releasing a live recording of its 2013 “Ring.” The recording should be a bright feather in the cap of Jenkins, who is retiring after leading the company for the past 31 years. I sure that he will be following what happens to Savage, Danholt, and the other young Wagnerian singers as their careers progress.