UPDATE (10:35PM; link update 3/23): Pictures!
UPDATE (11:25PM): Linked some singer sites and articles. Who knew Oropesa was a first-generation Cuban emigre?
UPDATE (3/23): Geoff Riggs liked Susanna Phillips a lot. And the other singers moderately.
UPDATE (3/25): Elaboration on the winners at Trrill.
This year's format was somewhat different from former years'. Instead of having the singers do two rounds of one aria each, each contestant did both selections together. The lineup:
Mari Moriya, soprano
"O luce di quest'anima" (Linda di Chamounix)
"Der Hölle Rache" (Magic Flute)
Joseph Kaiser, tenor
"Dies Bildnis" (Magic Flute)
"Kuda, kuda" (Onegin)
Elona Çeno, soprano
"Com'é bello" (Lucrezia Borgia)
"Come scoglio" (Cosi)
Michèle Losier, mezzo
"Parto, parto" (Clemenza di Tito)
"Va! laisse couler mes larmes" (Werther)
Susanna Phillips, soprano
"Je veux vivre" (Romeo & Juliette)
"Ach, ich fühl's" (Magic Flute)
Rodell Aure Rosel, tenor
"Jour et nuit" (Hoffmann)
Worm Aria (Ghosts of Versailles)
Ellie Dehn, soprano
"Ach, ich liebte" (Abduction)
"No word from Tom" (Rake's Progress)
Lisette Oropesa, soprano
"Ruhe sanft" (Zaïde)
"Una voce poco fa" (Barber)
Jordan Bisch, bass
"O wie will ich triumphieren" (Abduction)
"Ves' tabor spit" (Aleko)
While the judges finally deliberated, we had guest appearances by Sondra Radvanovsky, Morris Robinson, and Garrett Sorensen & Charles Taylor (doing the Pearl Fishers duet).
Moriya is a 27-year-old Japanese singer now studying in New York. Neither voice nor temperament showed much tenderness here: the top, though quite powerful for a high-ish coloratura soprano, is a bit harsh. This made for a very good Queen of the Night -- appropriately angry and frightening -- but I'm not sure what else fits. She did both ornament and squeeze out a trill in the Donizetti, which was nice.
Kaiser I didn't like much. He's also 27, but has a very noticable loose vibrato to his sound -- not a good sign. Plus he hammed the heck out of the Mozart (the Tchaikovsky too, but it works better there).
Albanian (also in NY?) soprano Çeno was the oddest of the bunch. The basic sound is covered and very soft-grained, but it's pretty even top to bottom and she can push for climaxes with no problem. However, she came with all sorts of odd arm-waving histrionics that seemed to pull even her sonic interpretation out of whack. (Provincial bad habits from Albania?) Plus, her rhythmic sense isn't the greatest -- not only did slow passages get mushy, but she got quite tangled up near the end of Fiordiligi's aria. Could be interesting down the line, but something of a project.
(French Canadian?) Michèle Losier was definitely the best-dressed, with her white-on-black dress offsetting striking short blond hair. But I'm afraid she didn't leave much other impression on me.
Susanna Phillips: delicious. Clear sound -- lots of happy overtones -- and an easy, sensual stage presence. And the close of the Mozart... Twenty-three, from Alabama. Hooray.
Rodell Aure Rosel -- the oldest of the set, at 29 -- was the first singer I've seen at the Council Finals who bills himself a "character tenor". And that he is: very funny in the Offenbach, strikingly, er, characterful in the Corigliano. Very good stage business even in concert. But he's quite a singer too, with high notes and everything. Impossible not to like, really.
Dehn was OK. A bit strident on top (with some volume though), some pitch problems early... She settled down, but didn't show much interpretively in either piece.
LSU student Lisette Oropesa! 21! A great delicate soprano! Charming in voice, diction, and person! OK, not quite the young Elisabeth Schumann, but you get the idea. Sadly, her voice may be too small for the Met. Also, I can't remember if she showed a trill.
Bisch was decent. I don't recall a bass ever sounding really full-voiced at one of these events -- especially at 23. He certainly didn't embarass himself.
The winners, to no one's surprise or consternation, were the last two in each group: Phillips, Rosel, Oropesa, and Bisch. May they do well, and the others improve.
Meanwhile, however, Sondra Radvanovsky's "D'amor sull'ali rosee" had us wondering what we'd seen in those other sopranos anyway...