Xavier Music Department Alumna Wins Cincinnati Opera Idol Contest

Margaret Russo Awarded Contract To Sing with Opera Next Season | July 22, 2009

MEDIA RELEASE: July 22, 2009
Contact: Katie Syroney
(513) 768-5504 or ksyroney@cincinnatiopera.org
Editor’s Note: Photos and video available upon request.


More than 160 amateur singers participated and over 10,000 online votes were cast as part of Cincinnati Opera’s search for the next great opera star.


CINCINNATI, OH—Cincinnati Opera proudly announces that Margaret Russo has been named the winner of the company’s first ever Opera Idol competition.

Evans Mirageas, The Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director of Cincinnati Opera, made the announcement tonight from the stage of Music Hall, immediately preceding a performance of Georges Bizet’s Carmen, the company’s final production of its 2009 Summer Festival. Russo then surprised the sold-out crowd by performing the aria “Quando me’n vo” (also known as “Musetta’s Waltz”) from Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, accompanied by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under conductor Henri Venanzi.

Cincinnati Opera launched Opera Idol, the company’s search for the next great opera star, in June 2009. More than 160 amateur singers turned out for an open audition before a panel of professional judges. Through multiple rounds of voting, six finalists were chosen. Videos of those finalists in performance were posted on the Cincinnati Opera website, and the public was invited to view the videos and vote for their favorite, for which over 10,000 total votes were cast. As the winner, Russo receives a $3,500 contract with Cincinnati Opera.

The 25-year-old copywriter from Zionsville, Ind., said the Opera Idol experience has exceeded her expectations and invigorated her desire to perform.

"It's difficult to sum up the variety of emotions I feel about being voted Cincinnati Opera Idol,” she said. “I'm excited, amazed, a little overwhelmed, and, most of all, extremely grateful. I’m grateful to my friends and family for supporting me, to voters for choosing me, and to Cincinnati Opera for organizing an event that both showcased local talent and inspired the Cincinnati community.”

Said Mirageas, “I said it from the stage of the Aronoff Center at our Opera Idol concert, and I meant it: Cincinnati's got talent. I am delighted Margaret Russo has won our first ever Opera Idol competition. She is a poised young woman with a lovely voice and lots of potential.”

Continued Russo, “It is absolutely a dream come true!"

About Margaret Russo
Margaret Russo, 25, is a copywriter at Bridge Worldwide, a local interactive marketing agency. A soprano from Zionsville, Ind., who currently resides in the Columbia-Tusculum neighborhood of Cincinnati, her talent was discovered early, and almost by mistake: at the age of 6, she mimicked her first grade teacher’s vibrato during class and was given detention. Instead of punishment, her teacher taught her to sing a scale and recommended that she use her talent in voice lessons, rather than mocking her teachers. She studied voice and English while a student at Xavier University. Russo enjoys singing and listening to a wide variety of music styles, from opera and jazz to contemporary alternative music.


Cincinnati Opera’s 2009 Summer Festival is made possible with support from the Fine Arts Fund, Ohio Arts Council, City of Cincinnati, The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and many generous foundations, corporations, and individual donors. Delta Air Lines is the official airline of Cincinnati Opera. Seta Music is the official piano supplier for Cincinnati Opera. The 2009 Summer Festival runs June 11 through July 26 and features The Marriage of Figaro, Don Carlo, Ainadamar, and Carmen. WCPO-Channel 9 is official media sponsor of Opera Idol, with additional support provided by an anonymous donor and Joan Rieveschl. www.cincinnatiopera.org