CFSA News Now: Arizona Opera singer receives Igor Gorin Memorial Award

“My goal as a performing artist is to emotionally enrich the lives of the audience by bringing to life the poetic characters of opera,” explains Stephanie Sanchez, recipient of the 2018 Igor Gorin Memorial Award. The award, established in 1987 by Mary Gorin and held at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, honors the memory and legacy of her husband, Igor Gorin, a world-renowned opera singer. Since its inception, over $298,000 has been awarded to emerging opera singers.

Stephanie Sanchez 2018 award recipient

Ms. Sanchez, a native of Southern New Mexico, currently resides in Phoenix Arizona. For the 2017-18 season, she joined Arizona Opera as a Marion Roose Pullin studio artist. There she performed the roles of Persephone in Hercules vs. Vampires, Paquette in Candide, and Berta in Il Barbiere di SivigliaStephanie will be closing out the season with Arizona Opera singing the role of Flosshilde in Das Rheingold, including two performances in Tucson.   In summer 2017, Ms. Sanchez was a young artist at the Glimmerglass Festival where she performed the role of Yesi in the world premiere of “hip-hopera”, Stomping Grounds and also covered the role of Amastre in Handel’s Xerxes.

The Igor Gorin Memorial Award supports artists as they launch their careers following their years of formal education and training. The $10,000 award comes with no restrictions, enabling the recipient to utilize the award in whatever manner needed to further her career. Applicants for the award must meet eligibility criteria to be considered. Each applicant submits two recorded arias for evaluation by a panel of adjudicators experienced in opera. The application window opens each year in January.

“I grew up in a border town in New Mexico listening to singers such as Juan Gabriel and Vicente Fernandez with my father.  Opera was not something that I was introduced to until I reached adulthood,” she explains. This changed in her senior year at New Mexico State University when she encountered Andrew Zimmerman, who awoke a passion for opera within her. “The music, the sets, and of course the voices. There was something about it that was undeniably powerful,” she shared. This experience changed the course of her life as well as forming in her the commitment to impact the lives of others. She mentions one specific encounter following a performance in St. Louis, Missouri. “Afterwards a dark haired little girl came up to me and said, ‘My last name is Sanchez too!’  She was so excited to see someone who shared her heritage performing for her that afternoon. I think it is my duty as a minority in the arts to bring these sort of experiences to children and communities who might not ever get the chance to see or hear it otherwise. To let them know that there is a place for everyone in opera.”

Praised for her “full, rich sound,” Ms. Sanchez is quickly creating a name for herself as an exciting young mezzo-soprano.  Though still in the early stages of her career, Ms. Sanchez has already gained a variety of formative experiences through her work with many prestigious companies.  Her repertoire ranges from Handel to Wagner as well as premiers of contemporary American works.  This summer Stephanie will join St Petersburg Opera as Flora in La Traviata and Teatro Nuovo as Roggero in Tancredi.  The fall of 2018 will mark Stephanie’s return to Arizona Opera as Baroness Nica in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Photo by Ted Washington

Ms. Sanchez completed her artist diploma at the prestigious Shepherd School of Music at Rice University under the direction of Julie Simson in 2017.  Her roles at the Shepherd School include ‘Rosina’ in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, the mezzo soloist in Mahler’s Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen, and selections from Norma, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Dialogues des Carmélites.

Stephanie was a member of the Gerdine Young Artist and Gaddes Festival Artist programs at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for three consecutive seasons (2014, 2015, 2016).  Most recently, she performed the role of Dryad in Ariadne on Naxos and covered the role of Composer in the same production.  Other roles at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis include Ruth in Pirates of Penzance, Sister Mathilde in Dialogues of the Carmelites, and A Young Girl in La Rondine.