Five singers named 2021 Winners of the newly renamed Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition

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Previously the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the competition name has been changed in recognition of a generous gift from the Laffont family 

New York, NY (May 16, 2021)—After a months-long series of competitions at the district, regional, and national levels, a panel of expert judges named five singers as the winners of the 2021 Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition. Known since its founding in 1954 as the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the competition name change was announced today in recognition of a generous gift from the Laffont family. Mrs. Laffont, an Advisory Director on the Met Board, has spent many hours volunteering with the auditions over the last 20 years, and she and her late husband, Eric, have long been among the program’s most dedicated supporters.

Each winner receives a $20,000 cash prize and the prestige and exposure that come with winning the competition that launched the careers of many of opera’s biggest stars. The 2021 winners, the regions they represent in the competition, and their hometowns are:

  • Duke Kim, 29, tenor (Western Region: Seoul, South Korea)
  • Hyoyoung Kim, 24, soprano (Southeast Region: Seoul, South Korea)
  • Raven McMillon, 25, soprano (New England Region: Baltimore, MD)
  • Emily Sierra, 23, mezzo-soprano (Eastern Region: Chicago, IL)
  • Emily Treigle, 23, mezzo-soprano (Gulf Coast Region: New Orleans, LA)

Earlier this afternoon, 10 finalists performed in the Laffont Grand Finals Concert, hosted by bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green, a 2011 competition winner. The singers performed virtually from locations around the world for an audience of judges, industry leaders, and the general public.

The remaining five finalists, who each receive a $10,000 cash prize, are:

  • Jongwon Han, 26, bass-baritone (Rocky Mountain Region: Seoul, South Korea)
  • Brittany Olivia Logan, 28, soprano (New England Region: Garden Grove, CA)
  • Timothy Murray, 29, baritone (Western Region: Milwaukee, WI)
  • Murrella Parton, 30, soprano (Southeast Region: Seymour, TN)
  • Erica Petrocelli, 28, soprano (Central Region: East Greenwich, RI)

This season, nearly 1,200 applicants auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition, with just over 600 singers qualifying for the 31 District Auditions. Of the 141 singers in the 10 Regional rounds, 23 were named semifinalists. To ensure safety and access for all involved, the auditions this season have taken place in a remote, live-streamed format from locations around the world. These auditions are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council, including members and hundreds of volunteers from across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Now in their 67th season, the auditions 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. The auditions have been crucial in introducing many of today’s best-known stars, including Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Eric Owens, Stephanie Blythe, Hei-Kyung Hong, Sondra Radvanovsky, Lawrence Brownlee, Michael Fabiano, Latonia Moore, Lisette Oropesa, Jamie Barton, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Nadine Sierra, and Ryan Speedo Green.

The competition gained international fame 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.

 

Biographies of the 2021 Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition Winners

A native of Seoul, South Korea, tenor Duke Kim is currently a Cafritz Young Artist at Washington National Opera. In Summer 2021, he will return to Santa Fe Opera as an Apprentice Artist, where he will sing Lysander in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. During his studies at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, he performed Rinuccio in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Laurie in Mark Adamo’s Little Women, and Count Belfiore in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera.After graduation, he joined the Studio Program at Wolf Trap Opera and performed Arbace in Mozart’s Idomeneo. In concert,he has been the tenor soloist for Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Bach’s Magnificat, and Saint-Saëns’s Oratorio de Noël. Duke has received numerous prizes, including first place at the Shreveport Singer of the Year Competition, second place in Gwendolyn Roberts Young Artist Auditions, and first place in New Century Singers Whittier Competition. He was also a finalist in Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition.

Soprano Hyoyoung Kim, hailing from Seoul, South Korea, is a second-year master’s student in voice at the Juilliard School, where she studies with Edith Wiens. Her most recent appearances have included engagements with Palm Beach Opera and the Spoleto Festival, Vancouver Opera’s NYIOP Korea audition, and as Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Seoul National University. She has also participated in master classes with Helmut Deutsch and David Blackburn. A recipient of multiple honors and scholarships, she is a winner of the Korean Broadcasting System Competition and won second prize at the Jung-Ang Competition in Korea, including four performances with the KBS Symphony Orchestra. In 2017, she was selected as a Kumho Foundation Young Artist solo recitalist, and she gave duo concerts in 2018 and 2019. She holds a Toulmin Foundation Scholarship.

Soprano Raven McMillon is a native of Baltimore, Maryland. She is currently a first-year member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio (HGO). In summer 2021, she will join Cincinnati Opera as Frasquita in the company’s outdoor presentation of Bizet’s Carmen. In the 2020–21 season, she made her HGO debut in scenes from Carmen (Frasquita) and Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore (Adina) in the Studio Showcase. She also appeared several times in the HGO Digital season, and performed as a soloist in the Giving Voice concert as well as the HGO Studio Recitals. She will return to Houston Grand Opera in the 2021–22 season as Frasquita, Peter (Joel Thompson’s The Snowy Day), and Papagena (Mozart’s The Magic Flute). In 2020, she collaborated with Lyric Opera of the North as Trish in the company’s chapter in the Decameron Opera Coalition’s Tales from a Safe Distance. She received a master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music a bachelor’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University.

Cuban-American mezzo-soprano Emily Sierra is currently studying at the Juilliard School, where she was finalist of the Premiere Opera Foundation + NYIOP Vocal Competition. Her 2020­–21 has included joining the prestigious Vocal Residency of the Académie du Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, alongside performances in Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz in conjunction with the renowned Internationale Meistersinger Akademie. Operatic highlights include her debut with English National Opera in its co-production of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde with Theatre Royal Stratford East, and her debut with the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute of Vocal Arts at the Juilliard School in the title role of Handel’s Teseo. In concert, she has performed as alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall, and Cloride in Handel’s Parnasso in Festa at Wigmore Hall with the London Handel Festival. She has studied at the Sherrill Milnes VOICE Program in Georgia, and Si Parla Si Canta in Italy. She is a recent graduate of the Royal College of Music, earning a bachelor’s degree and the 2019 President’s Award.

New Orleans–native mezzo-soprano Emily Treigle will join Houston Grand Opera this fall as a Studio Artist for their 2021–22 season. She was awarded third place in the 33rd annual Eleanor McCollum Competition with HGO. This summer, she returns to Wolf Trap Opera for a second season, covering the title role in Holst’s Savitri. She received her bachelor’s degree from Rice University, where she studied with Stephen King, in 2020. In 2019, she trained with HGO’s Young Artist Vocal Academy and participated in the Aspen Music Festival, where she portrayed Madame Armfeldt in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Her previous roles include Bradamante in Handel’s Alcina and Mrs. Ott in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, an opera with which her grandfather, world-renowned bass-baritone Norman Treigle, was closely associated.

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