An American mezzo wins the Glyndebourne Cup

An American mezzo wins the Glyndebourne Cup


norman lebrecht

March 24, 2018

The US mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey, 25, won the first Glyndebourne Cup tonight, with a cash prize of £15,000 and promises of engagements from several intendants on the competition jury.

A recent Juilliard graduate, Hankey attended the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco.

She is agented by Askonas Holt and will make her Met debut next year.


  • Caravaggio says:

    Here we go again. Not another mezzo, please! Boring! And being a recent graduate, shouldn’t she be perfecting her craft away from the limelight? But no. I see that another student is being thrust prematurely, way prematurely, on the Metropolitan Opera stage. Haven’t we suffered sufficient mediocrity already from that stage?

    • LK says:

      Wow. Where to start unpacking your comment. What is wrong with a mezzo winning? Why are mezzos “boring”? And did you hear her in the competition or read her bio before proclaiming her boring and mediocre? I just read her resume on her website. She graduated over a year ago and has been getting stage experience as a young artist on the Merola program in San Francisco and in other theaters. She was one of the Met National Finals winners last year. And her debut at the Met next season is covering and singing a Rhinemaiden in the Ring Cycle. She’s hardly being thrust into the limelight of starring roles in the main opera houses of the world. It would seem to me that she is taking the traditional career track of a young artist and developing at a healthy pace. So why the harsh criticism?

      • Bruce says:

        Oh, don’t mind Caravaggio — he’s always like this. Last time it was a violin competition (or it may have been a piano competition; I lose track).

        As far as I can make out, basically no one should have an “early” stage to their career. Competition winners are necessarily boring; because they are young, they cannot have anything meaningful to say. Singers, in particular, must not perform in public until age ___ (not sure what age is OK with Caravaggio, or what tests they might have to pass in order to gain his approval). Competition winners, and young singers, and particularly young singers who are competition winners, are pretty much doomed to an early career death.

        (For example: Frederica von Stade won the Met auditions at an early age and made her Met debut at 25; and look what happened to her! Marilyn Horne’s first big job was doing the voice of Dorothy Dandridge for “Carmen Jones” at age 20; she started her international career in Venice at 22. And look what happened to her! No one would wish a career like that on their worst enemy 😉 )

        Naturally one could say that these are simply exceptions that prove the rule. That’s true. ANY successful artist is an exception that proves the rule.

        P.S. As far as mezzos being boring, well, I have no answer to that. I’m sure we could all make long lists of singers of every vocal type or sub-type, and performers on any instrument, as well as conductors, who we consider boring.

  • Carol Godsmark says:

    As one who attended the Glyndebourne semi-final and the final, methinks Caravaggio is talking through his Merisi hat. She has her feet firmly on the ground, judging by her comments, her performances at Glyndebourne during the competition ,and the comments of others including Dame Janet Baker. She has it all: voice, character, stage presence. Mediocrity is not Samantha Hankey’s byword. You had to be there to be able to judge, particularly as the standards were so remarkably high. Granted, there are those singers who are pushed too soon into the ‘limelight’ but check up on Hankey in years to come to judge fairly if this was the case.She was whittled down from over 270 from all over the world to 23 then ten. Glyndebourne doesn’t wish to have a dud competition – its first – on their hands. It’s all about quality here, in tandem with some of the great opera houses in the world.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Whether she has a reputation in 10 years with depend not only on her current qualities but also how she develops over time. Perhaps it is best to be patient, and accept that not everyone will progress in the way that is hoped. Nevertheless, she has made a promising start.

  • Ernest Low says:

    Baltsa, Cossotto, Gorr, Troyanos et al boring?? Go gt a life …

    • buxtehude says:

      Baker? Von Otter?

    • Bruce says:

      Going back a little farther:

      — Simionato (operatic debut at 18 although it took awhile for things to get going),
      — Berganza (debut at Aix-en-Provence at 22, Covent Garden at 24),
      — Bumbry (operatic debut in Paris as Amneris at age 23; Bayreuth as Venus at 24)

  • Kate says:

    I saw her as Varvara in Katya Kabanova last year at Juilliard and she was marvelous. She recently sang Rosina in Oslo.

    Here are two more titanically boring mezzos (also Americans): Stephanie Blythe and Joyce DiDonato. Blythe sang some significant roles at the Met while in her 20s.

  • Mike Aldren says: