Canadian Joel Allison amongst 23 semifinalists in Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions

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Metropolitan Opera announces 23 semifinalists in its National Council Auditions 

  • Semifinalists move on to a closed competition on Monday, February 24 for the chance to advance to the Grand Finals
  • Finalists will then compete at the public Grand Finals Concert on the Met stage, accompanied by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and conductor Bertrand de Billy, on Sunday, March 1
  • Winners will receive individual cash prizes of $15,000 and invaluable exposure in the opera world

New York, NY (February 18, 2020)—The 23 young opera singers who have won regional auditions around the United States will compete in the semifinal round of the country’s leading vocal competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, on Monday, February 24. The closed semifinal 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 competitionthe Grand Finals, which is open to the public and will be held on the Met stage on Sunday, March 1.

About the semifinalists

The 2020 semifinalists include ten sopranos, four mezzo-sopranos, one countertenor, three tenors, two baritones, two bass-baritones, and one bass.

The ten soprano semifinalists, along with the regions they represent in the competition and their hometowns, are: Erika Baikoff (Upper Midwest Region: New York, New York); Claire de Monteil (Middle Atlantic Region: Paris, France); Cara Gabrielson (Northwest Region: Portland, Oregon); Courtney Johnson (Eastern Region: Chesapeake, Virginia); Chasiti Lashay (Western Region: Houston, Texas); Jana McIntyre (Midwest Region: Santa Barbara, California); Whitney Morrison (New England Region: Chicago, Illinois); Alexandria Shiner (Middle Atlantic Region: Waterford, Michigan); Denis Vélez  (Gulf Coast Region: Mexico City, Mexico) and Suzannah ›4Waddington (Gulf Coast Region: West Palm Beach, Florida).

The four mezzo-sopranos competing in the semifinals are Katherine Beck (Rocky Mountain Region: Bennington, Vermont); Gabrielle Beteag (Southeast Region: Lilburn, Georgia); Lindsay Kate Brown (Upper Midwest Region: Waterloo, New York); and Katherine DeYoung (Great Lakes Region: Traverse City, Michigan).

The countertenor semifinalist is Key’mon Murrah (Southeast Region: Louisville, Kentucky).

The three tenor semifinalists are Jonah Hoskins (Rocky Mountain Region: Saratoga Springs, Utah); Joseph Leppek (Upper Midwest Region: Novi, Michigan); and Joshua Sanders (Eastern Region: Madison, Wisconsin).

The two baritone semifinalists are Blake Denson (Midwest Region: Paducah, Kentucky) and Xiaomeng Zhang (New England Region: Wenzhou, China).

The two bass-baritone semifinalists are Joel Allison (Central Region: Ottawa, Canada); and Ben Brady (Western Region, Denver, Colorado)

A bass rounds out the list of semifinalists: Brent Michael Smith (Middle Atlantic Region: Owosso, Michigan).

About the competition

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, now in their 66th season, are a potentially career-making opportunity for aspiring opera singers, given the reach of the auditions, the number of applicants, and the program’s long tradition.

This year’s semifinalists were chosen from more than 1,000 singers who participated in auditions held in 40 districts throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, and who then competed in the 12 regional finals. These auditions are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council and administered by National Council members and hundreds of volunteers from across the country.

The semifinalists, ranging in age from 23 to 30, arrive at the Met on Saturday, February 22 to rehearse for the semifinals competition on Monday, February 24. The finalists of this event will then go on to sing in the Grand Finals Concert on Sunday, March 1 at 3 p.m., hosted by soprano Lisette Oropesa, who was a Grand Finals winner in the 2005 competition.

The finalists who advance to the Grand Finals will have a week of training with Met musical and dramatic coaches to prepare for the Grand Finals Concert. Each finalist will sing two arias on the Met stage with conductor Bertrand de Billy leading the Met Orchestra. Tenor Javier Camarena will perform for the audience while the judges deliberate. Following the performance, the winners will be announced, each of whom will receive a cash prize of $15,000 and career-making exposure. Results will be posted to @MONCAuditions Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Tickets for the Grand Finals Concert are on sale now and may be purchased at the Met Box Office, by phone at (212) 362-6000, or online at metopera.org.

The Met National Council Auditions have been crucial in introducing many of today’s best-known stars, such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Deborah Voigt, Thomas Hampson, Stephanie Blythe, Sondra Radvanovsky, Lawrence Brownlee, Eric Owens, Angela Meade, Susanna Phillips, Michael Fabiano, Latonia Moore, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Nadine Sierra, Jamie Barton, and Ryan Speedo Green. The competition gained international notoriety with the release of the 2008 feature-length documentary The Audition, directed by award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke, which chronicled the 2007 National Council Auditions season and Grand Finals Concert.

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