Friday, March 16, 2012

A Timeline of MONC ER Winners

In anticipation of Sunday's Grand Finals, I thought it would be nice to look back and see which Grand-Finals winners came to the Met stage through the Eastern Region.  Hopefully we can add Will Liverman's name to this list on Sunday.  Just like all the other Grand-Finals winners, and all the competitors, they have kept opera alive and thriving here in the US, and all over the world, for the last 58 years.

I highlighted one singer every decade, but you can find out more about all their appearances on the Met stage at

  • 1959: Baritone Norman Mittelmann and Soprano Teresa Stratas
  • 1960: Soprano Mary Jennings, Bass-Baritone Spiro Malas and Soprano Benita Valente
  • 1961: Soprano Billie Lynn Daniel, Soprano Francesca Roberto, Tenor George Shirley and Soprano Shirley Verrett
  • 1962: Soprano June Genovese, Soprano Janis Martin, Tenor James McCray, Soprano Carol Toscano, Soprano Veronica Tyler-Scott and Bass-Baritone William Walker
  • 1963: Baritone Russell Christopher, Bass-Baritone Justino Dias and Tenor Michael Trimble
  • 1964: Baritone Gene Boucher, Soprano Maria Candida, Soprano Mary Beth Peil and Mezzo-Soprano Huguette Tourangeau
  • 1965: Soprano Loretta Di Franco, Baritone Theodore Lambrinos and Bass-Baritone Will Roy
  • 1966: Baritone Dominic Cossa, Mezzo-Soprano Gwendolyn Killebrew, Soprano Evelyn Mandac and Soprano Marylyn Mulvey
  • 1968: Tenor William Cochran
  • 1969: Soprano Elaine Cormany and Mezzo-Soprano Frederica Von Stade 
Frederica Von Stade is still involved with the National Council Auditions and serves as MONC's National Advisor.  After winning the Auditions she made her Met debut on January 10th, 1970 as a Genie in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte.  In her first season at the Met, she tackled many more operas, including La Traviata, Tosca and La Fanciulla del West.  She sang at the Met for forty years, and made her last appearance on March 14th, 2010 during the National Council Grand Finals, singing pieces from Werther and La Périchole.  

  • 1976: Soprano Ashley Putnam
  • 1977: Tenor Vinson Cole
  • 1979: Mezzo-Soprano Jane Bunnell, Soprano Sandra McClain and Bass-Baritone Jan Opalach
In the seventies, the Met started to hold a yearly concert to highlight that years's Audition winners.  They fittingly called it the National Council Concert.  It was at this concert that Vinson Cole made his first Met appearance.  He did not make his official debut in a full Met opera until ten years later in 1987 when he took on the role of Alfred in Die Fledermaus.  Ever since then he has been on and off the Met stage while singing at other leading opera houses and concert halls all over the world.     

  • 1980: Bass Kevin J. Langan, Soprano Margaret Vazquez, Soprano Lauren Wagner and Baritone Thomas Woodman
  • 1981: Soprano Gail Dobish, Soprano Joyce Guyer
  • 1982: Mezzo-Soprano Lucille Beer, Soprano Hei-Kyung Hong, Tenor Walter MacNeil and Soprano Katherine Ritz
  • 1983: Soprano Jo Ann Pickens
  • 1984: Tenor Richard Croft
  • 1985: Baritone Stephen Biggers, Soprano Maryte Bizinkauskas, Bass-Baritone Philip Cokorinos and Soprano Karen Williams
  • 1986: Soprano Andrea Cawelti and Tenor Michael Sylvester
  • 1987: Soprano Amanda Halgrimson and Soprano Mi-Hae Park
  • 1988: Soprano Renée Fleming, Mezzo-Soprano Susan Graham and Soprano Carolyn James
  • 1989: Mezzo-Soprano Ning Liang and Soprano Veronica Villarroel
Renée Fleming made her first Met appearance on April 10, 1988 at the National Council Winners Concert.  As you can tell, she shared the stage with a whole bunch of amazing talent which grace the Met stage up to this day.  As mentioned in our 'View from the Top' article, 1988 was a particularly good year for opera talent.  That year she sang 'Song to the Moon' from Rusalka, which would always be one of her best arias.  She describes it herself in her autobiography 'The Inner Voice':
"In the end I felt things really started to turn around for me when I began auditioning with 'The Song to the Moon' from Rusalka.  It wasn't a widely known aria yet, but it was perfectly suited to my temperament and voice."    
Renée Fleming has become one of the most recognizable faces at the Met, and she has been performing on its stage every year since the year she won.  

  • 1990: Soprano Clare Mueller, Soprano Susan Owen, Mezzo-Soprano Rebecca Russell and Soprano Young-Ok Shin
  • 1991: Tenor Paul Groves and Tenor Kenneth Tarver
  • 1992: Soprano Marie Plette
  • 1993: Soprano Ainhoa Arteta, Mezzo-Soprano Elizabeth Bishop and Tenor Dennis McNeil
  • 1994: Soprano Norah Amsellem, Soprano Olga Makarina and Mezzo-Soprano Svetlana Serdar
  • 1995: Soprano Anita Johnson and Tenor Jon Villars
  • 1996: Baritone Jung-Hack Seo and Soprano Lynette Tapia
  • 1997: Soprano Alexandra Deshorties
  • 1998: Countertenor David Walker
  • 1999: Soprano Meagan Miller
The Grand-Finals Concert was introduced in 1999, so Paul Groves was one of the last singers who made his first Met appearance in the National Council Winners Concert.  He is still a regular on the Met roster, and could last be seen a year ago in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride with Placido Domingo and Susan Graham.    

  • 2000: Mezzo-Soprano Elizabeth Batton, Soprano Latonia Moore and Finalist Soprano Kyung-Sun Choi
  • 2001: Soprano Melissa Citro and Tenor Jésus Garcia
  • 2002: Finalist Tenor Simon O'Neill
  • 2003: Male Soprano Michael Maniaci
  • 2006: Soprano Holli Harrison
  • 2009: Tenor Paul Appleby, Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and Tenor Sung Eun Lee
  • 2010: Soprano Lori Guilbeau
Paul Appleby is one of the most recent winners, and he has been studying at the Lindemann Young Artist Development program since winning.  Every year the LYADP holds several recitals at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and Paul Appleby will be performing on Friday March 23rd.  Opera Idols plans to be there, so stay tuned for an eye-witness account of this event.

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