Sunday, February 03, 2013

Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions results

Spivey Hall is proud again to have hosted the Southeast Region Final Auditions of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions today (February 3, 2013).  

The judges this year -- the 60th anniversary of the National Council Auditions -- were Gayletha Nichols, Executive Director of the National Council Auditions; Jay Lesenger, Artistic Administrator of Chautauqua Opera; and Jonathan Dudley, a New York City vocal coach and former musical director of the Metropolitan Opera Studio, a forerunner of the Met's Lindemann Young Artists Program.

The contestants, hailing from North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, comprised one tenor, two baritones, not a single mezzo-soprano, and ten sopranos.  

The Ryan Smith First Place Award of $5,500 was given to soprano Melinda Whittington, age 28, of South Carolina, who sang "Das war sehr gut, Mandryka" from Richard Strauss' Arabella and the Embroidery Aria from Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes.  She advances to sing with other regional winners at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Her pianist was Catherine Giel.

The Second Place Award of $2,500 was given to baritone Lawson Anderson, age 26, of North Carolina, who sang  "Look through the port" from Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd and "Come paride vezzoso" from Gaetano Donizetti's L'elisir d' amore.  His pianist was Scott Morris.

The Third Place Award of $1,500 was given to soprano Maria Valdes, age 22, of Georgia, who sang "Dove sono" from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and "Steal me, sweet thief" from Gian Carlo Menotti's The Old Man and the Thief.  Her pianist was Walter Huff.

Encouragement awards of $500 each were given to soprano Jasmin Habersham, age 23, of South Carolina (singing The Presentation of the Rose from Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier And "Je veux vivre" from Charles Gounod's Romeo et Juliette with pianist Catherine Giel) and tenor Brendan Callahan-Fitzgerald, age 25, of Georgia (singing "Quest' o quella" from Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto and "Una furtiva lagrima" from Gaetano Donizetti's L'eliris d' amore with pianist Walter Huff).

Mrs. John E. Talmadge chairs the Southeast Region Auditions, and John La Forge is regional auditions director. Both spoke from the stage, as did Gayletha Nichols in a whisper (to which she was reduced by a severe cold), offering praise to the singers and pianists, and abundant thanks to the many volunteers who make the National Auditions possible each year.

Congratulations to ALL of the singers for a very impressive afternoon of opera arias!  The auditions totally sold out this year, thus if you're interested in tickets next year, you are advised get them early!  (We were sad to to disappoint some people who had driven to Spivey Hall only to discover there were no more tickets to be had.)  A radio broadcast of the contestants' performances will be heard on FM 90.1 WABE Atlanta on Monday, March 4, 2013 at 9:00 PM.