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Washington National Opera Names Coburn 2009 Artist of Year
Sarah Coburn (MM ’01) has been named 2009 Artist of the Year by the Washington National Opera. The award was announced by Plácido Domingo at the opera company’s annual Board of Trustees dinner. Domingo praised Coburn, who made her WNO debut in the company's 2008 production of “Tamerlano,” where she played Asteria opposite Domingo's Bajazet. The Artist of the Year award salutes young artists who have displayed exceptional artistic merit in their appearances with WNO, and recognizes their professional growth and development. Since the award's inception in 1977, recipients have included mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, conductor John Mauceri, soprano Ruth Ann Swenson, and mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves. Praised as "blissfully sublime" by Opera News, Sarah Coburn is noted for her "precision placement, mercury speed, and a gorgeous liquid gold tone, gilded by a thrilling top and bottom register" (The Globe and Mail). Following her performances in the title role of “Lucie de Lammermoor” at Glimmerglass Opera, the New York Observer noted "she turns out to have qualities that have made legends out of so many of her predecessors, from Adelina Patti to Maria Callas: stage charisma, a thrilling upper register and, crucially, a fearlessness about abandoning herself to opera's most abandoned heroine ... this is a palpably exciting voice ... Ms. Coburn is a budding prima donna of exceptional promise." She received her master of music degree in vocal performance from the Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University, studying with Professor Larry Keller. Coburn's engagements in the 2008-09 season include the roles of Vittoria in Pedrotti's “Tutti in maschera” at Wexford Festival Opera, Euridice in Haydn's “L'anima del filosofo” under the baton of Sir Roger Norrington at the Handel & Haydn Society, a return to the roster of the Metropolitan Opera, and Gilda in “Rigoletto” with Portland Opera. The Portland Oregonian wrote: “Sarah Coburn's Gilda was among the best performances we've heard all season. True of tone, pure of sound, she found the subtleties in Verdi's music with lovely phrasing and touching sincerity. She almost stopped hearts - or would have with a slower tempo - in her big number, a light, agile 'Caro nome,' ('Dearest name') sung like a reverie with nuances of shading, accents, diminuendos and coloratura." She recently appeared as a soloist in “Messiah” with both the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra, in “Carmina Burana” with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, in concert with Bryn Terfel in Florida Grand Opera's Superstar Series, and in recital with Lawrence Brownlee for the Vocal Arts Society. Her 2007-08 season included the role of Asteria in Tamerlano with Washington National Opera, the title role in “Lakmé” with Tulsa Opera and the role of Princess Yue-yang in “The First Emperor” at the Metropolitan Opera. She returned to Seattle Symphony as soloist in Bach's Mass in B Minor, to Washington Concert Opera as Elvira in “I puritani,” to Cincinnati Opera in the title role of “Lucie de Lammermoor”, and to Glimmerglass Opera to sing Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Other recent appearances include the role of Princess Yue-yang in the world premiere of Tan Dun's “The First Emperor” at the Metropolitan Opera, creating the role of Kitty in the world premiere of “Anna Karenina” at Florida Grand Opera, and later reprising that role with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She sang the title role in”Lucia di Lammermoor” with Utah Opera, the title role in “Linda di Chamounix” at the Caramoor Festival, and Euridice in Haydn's “L'anima del filosofo” with Glimmerglass Opera. Cobrun is a winner of the 2004 George London Foundation Awards, a 2004 recipient of a Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation, a 2004 Jensen Foundation Award Winner, a 2003 Liederkranz Foundation Award Winner, a 2002 Opera Index Career Grant recipient, and was a National Grand Finalist in the 2001 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.