Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Meet the Singers: Adam Ulrich

Adam Ulrich, Tenor, 27 years old, from Spencerport, NY

Opera Idols: How did you become an opera singer? 
Adam Ulrich: I studied musical theatre as a kid up through to my undergraduate degree. I had a voice teacher who was a veteran opera singer who encouraged me to pursue opera so in graduate school I went in this direction.

OI: Do you come from a musical family? Any singers? 
AU: There is not another trained singer in my family, however my grandmother's brother performed in a Big Band during the 1940's.

OI: Do you have a favourite opera/aria/composer?
AU: Donizetti's Elixir of Love and Lucia de Lammermoor, and La Traviata

OI: Any advice to future auditioners/opera singers?
AU: Every time you sing, give a performance. A audition is never anything less or more than a performance.

OI: What has been your best experience at these MONC ER auditions?
AU: My favorite moment was getting to call my teacher to let her know that I had won the District Auditions.

OI: Do you have any techniques to relax after an audition or any preparation methods on the day of an audition like this?
AU: I like to exercise on the day of singing because it awakens my body and my voice.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Meet the Singers: Julia Lima

Julia Lima, 30, Soprano, was born a singer, according to her mother. And she always wanted to be a singer. And maybe a gymnast. Our first Russian singer, Ms. Lima was born in Yugorsk (Siberia), raised in Moscow, and moved to New York City a year and a half ago. As a big Tolstoy fan, let's just say she had me at "Siberia," and her story of discipline and determination inspired me.

Back in Yugorsk, Siberia, Ms. Lima demonstrated accomplishment in both the singing and gymnastics worlds during her youth. Studying the athletic form for eleven years between the ages of 5 to 16, Ms. Lima achieved the level of Master in the demanding and exacting sport. At the same time she was busy singing, and her then vocal teacher, Lyudmila Kravchenko, advised Ms. Lima that she had a big vocal range, more than enough for opera, which was proven true when she later won a Young Talent Contest that provided her with a scholarship to attend Moscow's prestigious State Musical School, Gnessin College.

After her years of studying in Moscow, Ms. Lima was driven to achieve a higher singing qualification and to take on a higher level of vocal coaching and decided that she would find what she was looking for in New York City. Currently studying under Mark Schnaibel and Anna Skibinski, Ms. Lima has certainly captured the attention of the Met judges to date, having passed through the first audition to compete in this Regional round.

Opera Idols: Do you come from a musical family? Any singers? 
Julia Lima: No, but my mother likes to sing at home just for fun.

OI: Do you have a favourite opera/aria/composer?
JL: Mozart is my favourite composer, and Queen of the Nile is my favourite opera.

OI: Any advice to future auditioners/opera singers?
JL: Just don't think when you are up there...it is all about performing.

OI: What has been your best experience at these MONC ER auditions?
JL: When I am on stage!

OI: Do you have any techniques to relax after an audition?
JL: I just try to be here and now in this moment of my life, when I perform.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Meet the Volunteers: Melina Spadone Palmer

Mrs. Spadone Palmer serves as the Chair of the Eastern Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has also served on the Young Associates Steering Committee.  She is currently the Executive Director of a family trust that focuses on women's and children's issues.  She serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Room to Grow, an organization focused on improving the lives of babies born into poverty in New York City.  She began her career as a corporate lawyer and was the General Counsel for the International Council of Shopping Centers and for a multibillion dollar family fund. She earned her B.A. at Brooklyn College magna cum laude, her LL.B. at Fordham University and her M.B.A. at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France. She lives in New York City with her husband and three sons and is fluent in French and Italian.

Opera Idols: What moved you to join the committee/get involved in this effort?
Melina Spadone Palmer: I have been an opera fan and a young associate at the Met for many years. When Camille La Barre asked me if I would be interested in running the Eastern Region auditions, I jumped at the chance. It is very rewarding to me to volunteer and to make a difference in the careers of these young, talented singers. 

OI: What have you enjoyed about volunteering with the auditions?
MSP: I love the team involvement and the wonderful people I have met. I have a fantastic group of volunteers supporting me and they are dedicated and talented in their own right. Meeting the young singers and being a part of this exciting moment in their lives is truly special.

OI: Do you have a favourite opera/aria/composer/singer?
MSP: I love the comedic operas and am a huge fan of Juan Diego Flores and especially love the quartet from Rossini's Italian in Algiers!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Meet the Volunteers: Tom Cannon Jr

Tom with his adorable niece enjoying a visit on the HighLine
Opera Idols: What moved you to join the committee/get involved in this effort?
Tom Cannon Jr: I have always loved the MONC Grand finale concert, so being able to help in the process was very exciting for me.

OI: What have you enjoyed about volunteering with the auditions?
TCJr: First and foremost the camaraderie of the singers and volunteers. And the talent, of course.
OI: Do you have a favourite opera/aria/composer/singer?
TCJr: My favorite opera, Peter Grimes. Favorite aria, When I am laid in earth, Dido and Aeneas. Favorite singer, Teresa Stratas

Friday, January 27, 2012

Meet the Singers: Ileana Montalbetti

Ah Canadians. Always so pleasant. And with such international names! Ileana Montalbetti, 29, is our Prairie Soprano traveling from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (via Toronto on a stormy Tuesday) to compete in the Big Apple.

It is no wonder that Ileana finds herself here today in the opera world with such an impressive pedigree...her mom was an opera singer and currently resides as Artistic Director of Saskatoon Opera. I am told that in her 20s, Ms. Montalbetti's mother received her formal training from the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna where she studied with American soprano, Arleen Auger. The performing genes do not stop here, as her father is a trained actor and her brother is training as an actor.


I was pleased not to sit down and chat with only Ileana but also her friends Yegor Shevtsov (pianist), and Jonathan Beyer, 2006 MONC National Finalist, and the resulting and highly entertaining banter may deem a separate blog entry.
Opera Idols: Do you have a favourite opera/aria/composer?
Ileana Montalbetti: Mozart, I've sung a lot of Mozart, although now I am moving more into the Germanic repertoire. I am currently a young artist with the Canadian Opera Company in their training program...in my fourth year and finishing this Spring. I have my debut next year with the Edmonton Opera Company where I will perform Antonia in the Tales of Hoffman. I also just returned from Rome where I performed Fifth Maid (the one they kill) in Strauss' Elektra. My dream is to perform in Wagner's Die Walküre.

OI: Any advice to future auditioners/opera singers?
IM: Stay hydrated and rested, especially if you are traveling

OI: What has been your impressions of these MONC ER auditions?
IM: I have to say that these auditions are very well organized and ahead of time. Everyone is really friendly. And I love being in New York.

OI: Do you have any techniques to relax after an audition or any preparation methods on the day of an audition like this?
IM: Post-audition...watching mindless TV so that I can stop thinking and analyzing about my performance!


Upcoming Posts

Saturday Jan 28: Meet the Volunteers: Tom Cannon Jr
Sunday Jan 29: Meet the Volunteers: Melina Spadone Palmer
Monday Jan 30: Meet the Singers: Julia Lima
Tuesday Jan 31: Meet the Singers: Adam Ulrich
Wednesday Feb 1: Meet the Singers: Cooper Nolan
Thursday Feb 2: Meet the Singers: Cullen Gandy
Friday Feb 3: Meet the Singers: Theo Lebow

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bloomberg Article re Young Associates Met Event

Scene Last Night: Geeks, Dudes, Marriage for Cool Met Patrons

Meet the 3rd Place Winner: D'Ana Lombard

It wasn't until D'Ana sat down for her interview that I found out the proper pronunciation of her name: dee-ana. Not that she minds the mispronunciations she has undoubtedly withstood over the years. Our 24 year old soprano from Garden City South, Long Island is a bubbly and charming girl with a good sense of humour.

For as long as she can remember, D'Ana has always sung. In sixth grade she started formal voice study by taking Broadway voice lessons, but she soon discovered that she was actually quite good at classical singing. In High School she pursued this direction a little further, and when it came time to go to college, she decided to pursue a B.M. in Classical Voice performance at SUNY Purchase. Ms. Lombard could not praise her college experience highly enough, overflowing about the great teachers she met there, and expressing how thankful she was to be a part of a program which allows everyone to get real stage experience as an undergrad, and thereby prepares them for the practical realities of live opera. Ms. Lombard is currently studying at Mannes School of Music (where she also attained her Masters Degree) in their Professional Studies Diploma program. She has had many rewarding experiences in the Opera Program at Mannes and is now excited to take on the role of Donna Anna in Mannes Opera's May performance of Don Giovanni. 

This was Ms. Lombard's first time auditioning for the Metropolitan Opera National Council. 

Opera Idols: Do you have a favourite opera/aria/composer? 
D'Ana Lombard: Right now, no...currently submerged in working on a production of Don Giovanni. When I've heard every opera, I will be able to tell you which one is my favourite.

OI: Do you come from a musical family? Any singers?
DL: My parents can sing but I am the first trained singer in the family. My mom is my inspiration to work hard as she has multiple degrees and is always improving herself, learning new things.

OI: Any advice to future auditioners/opera singers?
DL: Regarding nerves...just know and remember that one audition (or performance) will not make or break you. The reason you are here is because you love to sing.

OI: What have you enjoyed about these MONC ER auditions?
DL: Just how nice and calm the backstage experience is..there is camaraderie and a positive atmosphere.

OI: Do you have any preparation or post-audition techniques?
DL: I get up super early, take a hot shower (to warm up my vocal chords), start talking, do my hair/make up, warm up my voice at home, then I rent a space to warm up in the city...and just before I arrive at the venue I get a green tea...breathing in the fumes of the tea...and then once it is of drinkable temperature I consume it to keep my chords warm. Afterwards, I get such a happy endorphin rush that I want to run down the street!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Meet a 1st Place Winner: Ricardo Rivera

By the time I had made my way to my last interviewee, the winners were being announced. I managed to jot down that Ricardo, 29, was from Ronkonkoma, NY and a Baritone. Then I lost him and about a half hour later, I had a very happy man who was understandably a little breathless to interview. I guess it was the year for Baritones.

Opera Idols: How did you become an opera singer?

Ricardo Rivera:  My ultimate goal in performing is to put audience members in touch with a part of themselves that, in this modern life, they might have become disconnected with: their spiritual side. I am lucky to be able to sing great Music, because great Music, like all great Art, has the divine in it. I don't mean this in a religious sense, I mean it in a psychological, feeling, and spiritual sense. 

I sang in choir and in school musicals throughout my primary and secondary school education. I decided to study and train for classical singing because I knew that was a healthy way to approach singing; little did I know the personal growth that studying and singing great Music would bring me. 

After High School, I auditioned for many music schools but did not get into any of them. I then moved to New York City and entered the Mannes College Extension Division, which is the adult student division of Mannes College the New School for Music. I trained there for one year with a voice teacher, Lois Winter, who helped me to figure out my passagio. I also coached, intensely, my audition repertoire . After this, I then again auditioned for music schools. Because of my training in the Extension Division, in these rounds of auditions, I was successfully accepted into many of the schools I auditioned for. 

Because of recommendations from various people and its reputation as a place with a nurturing environment, I decided to attend the College Division of Mannes College. This is my ninth and last year at Mannes. I hold BM and MM degrees and I'm in my second year of the Professional Studies Diploma program. The Conductor and Artistic Director of Mannes Opera, Joseph Colaneri has been a superlative teacher and generous supporter of mine. He has been a GREAT source of learning, inspiration, and growth. He also gave me the opportunity to sing Don Alfonso in Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte", Ford in Verdi's "Falstaff", and now this year, the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni". 

Arthur Levy has been my vocal instructor for the past 8 years. With his extremely process orientated and intelligent, humanistic approach and deep knowledge of vocal pedagogy, he has taken me from having an uneven voice four times as small as I now have, to having developed to the point where I can fulfill my artistic goals.
Opera Idols: Do you come from a musical family? Any singers? 
RR: My mother likes to sing around the house and according to my family, my great-great-great-etc. Grandmother sang at the Metropolitan Opera.

Opera Idols: Do you have a favorite opera/aria/composer? 
RR:  Ultimately, it doesn't matter what role I am singing as long as I prepare and develop a personal relationship with that given role. But in general, I like to play evil characters and/or characters who are twisted in someway. I find that these make the most interesting characters to portray. For example, Don Giovanni, whom I look forward to presenting in May!
When the time is right, I look forward singing more of the Verdi Baritone roles.

OI: Any advice to future auditioners/opera singers?
RR: You should take and process information about style, language, performance practice, stage deportment etc., from people that you trust: voice teachers, coaches, conductors, directors, etc., but it is important to then form your own opinion about the music you are singing and, if you haven't already done so, start discovering what kind of artist you are. Being a generic singer/performer is something that you should avoid. The opposite of generic is exciting.  Some of the ways in which you can be exciting are by using expressive diction, incisive rhythms, a sense of urgency in your voice and acting ("What I am saying is really important!"), different vocal colors, well-planned phrasing, and where and how often you breathe. Ask yourself and experiment with discovering the answer to: What do you want to express with the music you are singing? Pick arias that not only suit your voice/fach but also your temperament. What do you love to sing? You should learn a lot from exposing yourself to and listening to other singers, but ultimately, what you want to do is know what your version of the aria and/or role you are singing is. The sooner you begin this process, the better.

OI: What have you enjoyed about these MONC ER auditions?
RR: I was so happy when I got to this round and even happier when I won 1st Place in the Eastern Region. Also, Merkin is a nice, resonant hall to sing in, it was really great to have an audience today, and the judges intelligent feedback was much welcomed.

OI: Do you have any preparation or post-audition rituals or techniques?
RR:  The day before and the day of the audition, I like to go through the arias both mentally and physically to remind myself of the ideas, musical and dramatic/physical, that I plan to execute. This morning, I felt a tickle in my throat so I drank Throat Comfort Tea and steamed my voice with a personal steamer.  


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Meet the 2nd Place Winner: Viktor Antipenko

Mr. Antipenko, 27, and a tenor, hails from St. Petersburg, and was our second Russian contestant of the day. From the tender age of 6 years old, Viktor commenced his musical vocation when he went to study at the famous Glinka Choral College in St. Petersburg. However, his initial education was as a choral conductor and moved on to study at the St. Petersburg Conservatory for the same. Eventually he came to sing in the Mariinksy Opera House in the chorus and it was at this point that he realized that he had to choose between being a singer or conductor, and he chose to become a singer. By this time Mr. Antipenko was 18 years old, and so marked the beginning of his opera singing career.

A few years after making his decision, he earned small solo roles in productions with conductor Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky Hall (St. Petersburg, Russia), in the Barbican Center (London, UK), in the National Center for the Performing Arts (Beijing, China) and at the Red Sea Music Festival (Eilat, Israel).

In total, Mr. Antipenko worked with the Mariinsky for seven years as part of the chorus, at which point he made another decision: to switch from being a choral singer to a soloist. Following the American Dream, he visited New York on a summer vacation where he auditioned for his now vocal teacher Bill Schuman. Having heard a lot about the Philadelphia Academy of Vocal Arts, one can imagine Mr. Antipenko's delight when Mr. Schuman urged the young singer to audition to for a placement in the Academy. And it paid off - Mr. Antipenko was accepted in November, in the middle of the school year.

Now in his third year as Resident Artist at the Academy, Mr. Antipenko chuckles with delight as he tells me that when he arrived in New York, he could not speak a drop of English.

Opera Idols: Do you have a favourite opera/aria/composer?
Viktor Antipenko: No opera in particular, but I love passionate music: Verdi, Puccini, Russian composers Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky. My dream is to perform Gherman in The Queen of Spades

OI: Do you come from a musical family? Any singers?
VA: No, I am the first in my family to sing.

OI: Any advice to future auditioners/opera singers?
VA: Just study, never stop, and you have to always analyze and stay on top with your technique, your vocals. I am always thinking of what I'm listening to, thinking about what the singers are doing, and I'm always listening to old-style singers. Today all of us really have much to learn from them.

OI: How do you feel about the experience that these MONC ER auditions have given you?
VA: This audition is the first piece of the puzzle to achieving the dream to sing on the Met Stage, but not sure yet how it will unravel.

OI: Do you have any techniques to relax after an audition?
VA: No, I do not have a technique to relax...I am a very passionate person...it just takes time to relax. But I do have hobbies...while I was in Russia I engaged professionally in sailing (regattas) and was preparing to take the exam to become a Pilot. But now, of course, all my time focused on learning (singing). I hope that one day I'll continue my hobby.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Meet a 1st Place Winner: Will Liverman

Mr. Liverman, 23, is a serious, mature looking young man for his age, but perhaps this goes with the territory of being a Baritone. From Virginia Beach, Virginia, I was soon drawn in by his deep, rich Southern drawl as he sat down with me to talk about his background.

As a child, Mr. Liverman grew up in the Gospel music world, not only commencing his career at 10 years old as a singer and pianist at his church, but also having an international singer/songwriter for a mom (let me mention Terry Liverman who is now recording her first solo album). I can only imagine what a joy it is to be around when the two of them get together and create music.

During his high school days, Will actually attended two schools, taking classes at both his regular high school along with music courses at the Governer's School for the Arts in Norfolk wherein he was accepted into the vocal program. It was here where he received a good introduction to classical music and found his voice as an opera singer.

This is Will's third cycle of auditioning with this competition.

Opera Idols: Do you have a favourite opera/aria/composer?
Will Liverman: Pagliacci...it is short, sweet and the music is gorgeous, there is drama, and there is not a single part that I do not enjoy.

OI: Any advice to future auditioners/opera singers?
WL: My tip to singers is to not worry about the other singers competing...this can throw you off your art and once you put your thoughts (of worry) in your mind, you are defeated. Just focus on what you do and enjoy yourself...don't forget that this is a chance to perform.

OI: What have you enjoyed about these MONC ER auditions?
WL: There are not many vocal art forums where you get to sing and win a significant cash prize. Here, you have a good time singing and if you happen to win it's even better. But you have to compete and get up there, and it feels more comfortable every time you do it.

OI: Do you have any post-audition relaxation techniques?
WL: I go and eat something...a hamburger because it's my favorite.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Meet The Judges: Michael Heaston

Michael Heaston

(Bio is followed by single interview question) Mr. Heaston is a collaborative pianist, vocal coach, and artistic administrator who principally divides his time between New York and Dallas. Maintaining active associations with The Dallas Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, and The Metropolitan Opera, he has quickly established himself as one of the most versatile artists of his generation. Mr. Heaston returns to The Dallas Opera for the 2011-12 season as Head of Music Staff and Assistant Conductor for productions of Lucia di Lammermoor, Tristan & Isolde, The Lighthouse, La traviata, and The Magic Flute. In this, his fifth season with the company, he also celebrates the completion of twenty productions, some of which have included Salome, Porgy & Bess, Così fan tutte, Madama Butterfly, and the critically-acclaimed world premiere of Moby-Dick.
He is the Director of the Young Artists Program and Head of Music Staff at The Glimmerglass Festival. Now in his fifth year of appointment, Mr. Heaston remains one of the youngest people to assume the directorship of any major training program to date. This season welcomes the arrival of Francesca Zambello as the new Artistic & General Director of the company, as well as Deborah Voigt, who is the inaugural Artist in Residence with the Young Artists Program.
Mr. Heaston also continues his work as Score Consultant for the Metropolitan Opera’s Emmy and Peabody Award-winning Live in HD movie theater transmission series, including this season’s Faust and The Enchanted Island. Past Live in HD credits include Die Walküre, Il trovatore, Capriccio, La fanciulla del West, Der Rosenkavalier, Les contes d'Hoffmann, Tristan und Isolde, La Cenerentola, Hansel and Gretel, Dr. Atomic, and La rondine, to name a few.
On the concert stage, Mr. Heaston will appear with soprano Carol Vaness and baritone Rod Gilfry this season. He has partnered Stephen Costello and Ailyn Pérez. He also enjoys a long-term collaboration with Katharine Goeldner, mezzo soprano, and Amy Morris, flute as a founding member of The Prairie Song Project. The trio has performed to great acclaim in Scotland, England, Austria, Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota.
Mr. Heaston is a judge for The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and The Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition. A sought-after clinician, he has served as Artist in Residence, and presented master classes, at Southern Methodist University, Drake University, The University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, Abilene Christian University, and Dordt College. He was invited by Opera America to serve as pianist for the master classes of Harolyn Blackwell and William Burden. Additionally, he has played for the master classes of baritone Håkan Hagegård and tenor Stanford Olson. Mr. Heaston has served as collaborative pianist for the studio of operatic luminary Diana Soviero in New York. He has also played in the studios of Ruth Falcon and Ruth Golden.
Mr. Heaston’s principal teachers have included Margo Garrett, Brian Zeger, Timothy Lovelace, and Chiu-Ling Lin. He has coached with Karl Paulnack. He holds the Master of Music in Accompanying & Coaching from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and completed undergraduate studies in Piano Pedagogy and Arts Administration at Drake University in his hometown of Des Moines, IA.


Michael Heaston tells Opera Idols: I would tell future applicants to truly view this as not only an audition, but also a performance. When the synergy of impeccable technique (first, and foremost!), idiomatic diction, and a heartfelt interpretation occur, we are allowed to experience an individual's own, unique artistry. And for me, this creates a lasting impression. And I absolutely agree with Gayletha--it is VITAL that students attend these auditions. There is so much to learn from active observation!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Meet the Volunteers: Stefanie Van Steelandt

I have been an opera lover for many years, and living within walking distance of the Met Opera has made me a little spoiled.  It is definitely one of my favorite places in NY, with the exception of the Metropolitan Museum.

I have been a Young Associate at the Met Opera for many years, and when they reached out to members to find new people to help organize the Eastern Region Auditions, I jumped at the chance.

I had seen the Auditions documentary, and I had often seen the little star next to singers' names in the Playbill marking them as National Council Winners.  I had also been to the Grand Finals the last two years, and I often wondered where the finalists came from.

Little did I realize when I was watching the Finals in March of last year, I would be helping a wonderful team of volunteers just two months later in setting up the next auditions.

My biggest responsibility in the audition process was being in contact with the singers.  It was great developing a relationship with everyone over the months, from answering wardrobe questions to changing aria lists and switching audition times.  When I will see Ricardo Rivera and Will Liverman (our two finalists) on the Metstage (during the Semi-Finals and hopefully during the Grand Finals) I know I will feel a sense of pride.

I thought it would be interesting to help out young singers at the start of their careers as they advanced from the District Auditions, through the Regional Auditions, followed by the Semi-Finals and the Grand Finals.  I find it fascinating to organize something with so many different facets and then watch it all come together.  It feels like setting up an opera itself.  When you walk backstage through the MET, you see sets in different locations, and costumes strewn about and you wonder how they even manage to find everything.  Yet, when you take your seat and the curtain opens, it all comes together.  It's like a kitchen in a big restaurant.

I love opera, and listening to all these different voices is a training for me.  I never realized one aria could be sung in so many different ways, one more moving than the next.  Just for this specific reason, I don't really have a favorite singer; I just want them to be dramatic and really great actors on top of being a great singer.  I would insert Maria Callas here (not that I ever saw her perform live), but she was not always the most amazing singer.

It will probably sound cliché when I tell you my favorite opera and aria, but every time I hear something new I add something to the list.  I like Verdi for the whole and Puccini for its parts.

My favorite aria is Nessum Dorma from Puccini's Turandot.  It is this particular aria that made me go to the opera for the first time after seeing it in the movie The Sea Inside.  My favorite opera is Verdi's Nabucco.  I even listen to it while jogging.  I like the changes in rhythm and tempo, and it helps me in adjusting my running speed.

It just goes to show that opera can serve many purposes, and it is definitely not a lost art.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Meet The Judges: Gayletha Nichols

Ms. Nichols is on the far right
Gayletha Nichols, Executive Director
Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions

Ms. Nichols joined the artistic staff of the Metropolitan Opera in the fall of 2000 as Executive Director of the National Council Auditions.

She brought to the Met two decades of experience as a singer, teacher and career advisor. From 1992-2000, she was Director of Houston Opera Studio, the young artist development program at Houston Grand Opera, where she created and individualized the training both for singers and pianists. Ms. Nichols auditions hundreds of singers across North America every year and in her travels addresses many universities, conservatories, and festivals on developing the next generation of opera singers. She is a frequent adjudicator in national and international competitions and consults for other young artist programs across the country.


I had the brief opportunity to sit down with Gayletha to ask her what her advice would be to future auditioners. In summary, she advises that the minute you feel ready with your repertoire, get out there and start competing. This will get you the feedback that you need to develop your talent, as it is important to know where you stand against others and a competition is an ideal place for this.

Additionally, her feeling was that the audience should have been packed with students who aspire to sing on the Met Opera stage (as soloists). So students: please know that your presence is not just welcome but highly encouraged by this judge!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Congratulations to Regional Winners and Semi-Finalist Contenders Will Liverman and Ricardo Rivera!!!!

Congratulations to Runners Up Viktor Antipenko and D'Ana Lombard!!!!!

The MONC ER Committee is thrilled with today's singers, audience members and friends and family who came out to behold and support our Opera Idols! Stay tuned over the next few weeks for blog posts wherein we interview each of our 10 competitors from today that will include personal stories about their paths as they pursue their dreams as opera singers as well as some helpful tips for future auditioners and artists. In the mean time, below is a humble picture diary from the day - enjoy!
It was a beautiful January day in New York...fresh air, blue skies...just enough chill in the air to make the indoors a relief to join together to support young opera talent..

The location was the Kaufman Center/Merkin Hall on W 67th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenues

The stage...the audience...the judges

Isn't the stage just calling your name?

After the singers are finished, we all enjoyed coffee and sandwiches in the lobby whilst the Judges deliberated and selected their 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.

Backrow: Camille and Melissa Wegner (Met Opera)
Front Row: Our esteemed 3 judges: Michael Heaston, Brad Woolbright, Gayletha Nichols
Melina congratulating D'Ana Lombard

Melina congratulating Viktor Antipenko

Melina and Dominique

Congratulating Ricardo Rivera

Congratulating Will Liverman

Honoring the lovely former MONC ER organizers Kate Hall and Mary Hobart

A visitor from Toronto

Some, not all of the MONC ER current volunteer committee.