Friday, October 30, 2009

Metropolitan Opera finals to be held Nov. 8, open to public

The roster of renowned singers whose early careers included competing in the Metropolitan Opera Western Regional Audition Finals includes sopranos Carol Vaness, Leona Mitchell and Deborah Voigt; mezzo sopranos Michelle De Young, Grace Bumbry and Suzanna Guzman; baritones Thomas Hampson and Richard Paul Fink; and bass-baritones Richard Bernstein and Dean Elzinga. Those wishing to hear the upcoming generation of opera stars are invited to attend the 2009-2010 Western Regional Audition Finals on Sunday, November 8, at Bovard Auditorium on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.

“The purpose of the auditions is to discover exceptionally talented opera singers and assist them in their development,” explains Molly Siefert, Western Regional Director. “The program also helps discover new talent for the Met and searches for possible participants in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera Association.”

Each year, the Metropolitan Opera National Council holds auditions in 16 regions of the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, with approximately 25 Regional Winners advancing to New York to compete in the National Semi-Finals on the Met stage. The Western Regional Auditions are presented in collaboration with the Thornton School of Music at USC.

“The really exciting part is when ten singers are selected as National Finalists to compete in the Grand National Finals Concert, accompanied by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,” says Siefert, who estimates she has shepherded from 25 to 30 singers through the New York Finals experience over the past 20 years she has been involved in the program. “And the excitement for us continues for the remainder of the singers’ careers. For instance, each year, approximately 100 former auditioners appear in Metropolitan Opera productions alone.”

Since 1992, three Western Regional “National Winners” have been selected to be participants in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera: mezzo soprano Michelle De Young (1992-1995), soprano Sondra Radvanovsky (1995-1998) and soprano Andrea Trebnik (1997-2000).

Judges who will hear the singers participating in the Western Regional Preliminary Auditions on November 7 are soprano Jane Eaglen, a Grammy Award winning soprano who has performed worldwide, from Seattle, Chicago and New York to London, Vienna, Munich and Milan and is particularly renowned for her portrayals of the most demanding roles in operas by Wagner, Puccini and Bellini; Kim Witman, General Director of the Wolf Trap Opera Company; and Brad Woolbright, Artistic Administrator of the Santa Fe Opera. Gayletha Nichols, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council, will join the panel for the Finals on November 8.

“This fall will mark the 53nd season the Metropolitan Opera National Council has conducted auditions in the Western Region,” says Siefert. “There is a lot of history in that, and also a lot of future!”

Tickets for the Metropolitan Opera Western Regional Audition Finals are available for $29/person. Call (626) 285-3688 or (818) 240-6464. Bovard Auditorium is located on the campus of the University of Southern California at 3551 Trousdale Pkwy in Los Angeles.

For more information about the National Council Auditions Program, visit

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