New York, NY (March 13, 2014) – Twenty young opera singers who have won regional competitions around the United States will arrive in New York next week to prepare for the next phase of the country’s leading vocal competition: the semi-final round of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. The closed semi-final competition, held on the Met stage before a panel of judges, will determine the select group of finalists who will advance to the final round of the competition. Those finalists will return to the Met to perform in the Grand Finals Concert on Sunday, March 30 at 3 p.m., where each will perform two arias with conductor Marco Armiliato and the Met Orchestra. At the end of the concert, winners will be announced, each of whom will receive an individual cash prize of $15,000 and, more importantly, career-making exposure. The Met Auditions, currently in their 61st year, are a major stepping stone to a career as an opera singer and were crucial in introducing many of today’s best-known stars, such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Deborah Voigt, and Dolora Zajick. In 2007, the National Council Audition process was captured in an acclaimed documentary, The Audition, which was released on DVD and aired on PBS, including a rebroadcast on WNET in December 2013.
The 2014 semi-finalists, the regions they will represent in the competition, and their hometowns are: Julie Adams, soprano (Western Region: Burbank, CA); Viktor Antipenko, tenor (Eastern Region: St. Petersburg, Russia, currently living in New York, NY); Jennifer Cherest, soprano (Southeast Region: La Plata, MD); Natalie Cummings, soprano (Gulf Coast Region: Lakeway, TX); Alex John DeSocio, baritone (Midwest Region: Wichita, KS); Patrick Guetti, bass (Middle Atlantic Region: Highland Park, NJ); Nicole Haslett, soprano (Northwest Region: Mt. Laurel, NJ); John Kapusta, tenor (Eastern Region: Wappingers Falls, NY); Ao Li, bass-baritone (Rocky Mountain Region: Dezhou, China, currently living in San Francisco, CA); Yi Li, tenor (Middle Atlantic Region: Jinan, China, currently living in Silver Spring, MD); Christopher Lowrey, countertenor (New England Region: Johnston, RI); Rafael Moras, tenor (Gulf Coast Region: San Antonio, TX); Scott Russell, bass (Eastern Region: Roanoke, VA); Sofia Selowsky, mezzo-soprano (Central Region: Bethesda, MD); Diego Silva, tenor (Great Lakes Region: Mexico City, Mexico); Dane Suarez, tenor (Mid-South Region: Princeton, IL); Lida Szkwarek, soprano (Upper Midwest Region: Winnipeg, Manitoba); Rexford Tester, tenor (Middle Atlantic Region: Tazewell, VA); Sarah Tucker, soprano (Rocky Mountain Region: Houston, TX); Amanda Woodbury, soprano (Western Region: Crestwood, KY).
The semi-finalists arrive at the Met on Thursday, March 20 to rehearse with the company’s music staff in preparation for the semi-finals competition on Sunday, March 23. The winners of that event will go on to sing in the Grand Finals Concert accompanied on Sunday, March 30 at 3 p.m. The finalists will have a week of preparation with Met musical and dramatic coaches to prepare for the Concert, which is open to the public. Tickets for the Grand Finals Concert may be purchased at the Met Box Office, by phone at 212-362-6000, or online at www.metopera.org.
The finalists, between the ages of 20 and 30, will be competing for individual cash prizes of $15,000 each at the Grand Finals Concert. Even more important than the prize money is the contestants’ opportunity to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra on the historic opera house stage before an audience that will include opera company executives, artist managers, music critics, and other opinion-makers of the music world.
On Tuesday, April 1 at 7 p.m., this year’s newly selected winners will perform a concert of varied operatic repertory at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR 105.9, New York City’s all-classical station. They will be joined by a Met star and former National Council winner, soprano Deborah Voigt. The event will be broadcast live on WQXR and there will be a live video webcast on both www.wqxr.org and www.thegreenespace.org; for more information, please visit www.thegreenespace.org.
The regional winners were chosen from nearly 1500 singers who participated in the auditions held in 40 districts and 13 regions throughout the United States and Canada, sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council and administered by National Council members and hundreds of volunteers from across the country. Given the reach of the auditions, the number of applicants, and the program’s long tradition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions are considered the most prestigious in North America for singers seeking to launch an operatic career. This year’s Grand Finals concert will be dedicated to the memory of Howard Hook, the co-founder of the National Council, who passed away in December 2013.