It was billed as an opportunity for local performers to show off their mad opera skills in an intense, three-round competition with a prize of $5,000 for the winning performers. But the inaugural Phoenix Opera Southwest Vocal Competition had a couple other goals in mind, as well. First, to show spectators that “opera singers are real people” and not just “voices up on a stage.” And second, to shine a spotlight on the Mayo Clinic Voice Program in Arizona, which not only sponsored the event, but also hosted the first two rounds at Mayo’s Scottsdale campus.
Gail Dubinbaum, creative director of the Phoenix Opera, described the approach to the East Valley Tribune. Each finalist from the first two rounds was asked to sing two different songs with “an orchestra accompaniment.” But before they did, they shared a short “documentary-type video” of themselves to help audience members learn more about the person behind the voice.
Between rounds, the Tribune reports, audience members were given an opportunity to improve their own vocal abilities by attending “master classes taught by the judges” as well as seminars with vocal specialists from Mayo’s Voice Program. In a YouTube video, Mayo’s Voice Program director, David Lott, M.D., a “ voice doctor” and ENT specialist, describes how the program can help when a performer, or anyone really, comes down with a sudden or urgent voice-related issue. Mayo’s crack team of voice specialists stand ready to help. “The Voice Program in Arizona is truly unique, especially in the Southwest,” he says. “We’re the only true voice center in the Southwest that caters specifically to voice disorders.”
And while the program is geared more toward “professional voice users” (like opera singers), Dr. Lott says the program’s specialists have both the desire and the ability to help all those afflicted with sudden voice problems or disorders. “We have complete surgical capabilities to treat any surgical issues,” he says, along with “voice, and speech, and swallow therapists” who can help treat various voice disorders. And they do it all, Dr. Lott says, by using “state of the art” techniques to help “figure out exactly what’s going on” with a patient’s voice. “And then from that point on,” Dr. Lott says, “we have the training to know how to deal with that.”
We couldn’t quite put a coda on this composition by finding a report on the finals, which happened Feb. 8. But you can hear more from Dr. Lott on the Voice Program at Mayo here. Then, be sure share your thoughts below and share this story with others using the handy social tools.