Sunday, May 20, 2012

Taking some Mystery out of the National Council Auditions

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, also known as the MONC, is a competition for aspiring opera singers between 20 and 30 years of age, who are vying for the ultimate prize - the opportunity to sing on the Metropolitan Opera house stage with the Met orchestra. Winners also receive cash awards to further their careers, as well as national recognition. The MONC is divided into Districts that feed into larger Regions. Although under the Metropolitan Opera umbrella of organizations, each district and region is responsible for its own fundraising to finance its auditions and does not receive direct support from the Metropolitan Opera.
For those with some time to spare, here is an in depth history of the Auditions since they started in the 1950’s. For the rest, in short, the District and Regional Committees host the auditions by screening applicants, sourcing venues, selecting judges, awarding cash prizes and raising the funds to support its activities. All members of the MONC committees are uncompensated volunteers. The job of the committees is to find convenient, affordable, but acoustically appropriate space to house the auditions, identify and invite judges, hire an accompanist, process and schedule the singers, coordinate with the Metropolitan Opera for consistency, and to raise funds to support all of its activities. The Eastern Region, for example, holds a Benefit Gala, featuring winners from its Regional competition. All proceeds from the Gala support the following year’s auditions prizes and activities.

The district auditions are the first round of the competition, where all applicants perform one or two arias for competition judges. Competition judges are professionals in the opera industry and are can be conductors, opera singers or opera house professionals. The Eastern District audition averages 100 singers in a competition that spans 3 days. The winners from the District level advance to the Regional Competition, where singers perform arias, or portions of arias, selected by the competition judges. The Regional auditions are typically held in one day. The winners from the Regions across the country then convene for the Met Opera’s Semi-Finals and Grand Finals.

The Met Opera National Council Auditions are essentially a young artist competition, broken down into 4 stages, which are events in themselves:

1.District Audition Competition (1st Round):
Run by your District or Regional Committee held in respective region (visit the Eastern Region (NY) website here)
No financial support by the Metropolitan Opera
Separate fundraising conducted through ticket sales or benefits
Selected singers advance to the 2nd round, the Regional Auditions
Cash prizes to all singers who advance

2. Region Audition Competition (2nd Round):

Run by your District or Regional Committee held in respective region (visit the Eastern Region (NY) website here)
No financial support from the Metropolitan Opera
Separate fundraising conducted through ticket sales or benefits
Cash prizes for First and Second place winners and Encouragement Award
First Place Winner(s) advance to the Metropolitan Opera Semi-Finals

3. Semi-Finals, held at the Metropolitan Opera (3rd Round):

Singers from all the various districts and regions meet to compete
Selected winners advance to the Grand Finals Auditions

4. Grand Finals Concert, held at the Metropolitan Opera (4th and Final Round):

Singers spend a week of training with in-house voice, theatrical and
professional coaches (the documentary The Audition is a great film for those
with additional interest)
Cash prizes to singers
There are 42 districts and 14 Regions throughout the United States. Each district or region is responsible for financially supporting its own operations and is not allocated funds from the Metropolitan Opera. Fundraising is done through ticket sales, benefit events and from generous donations received by local opera lovers who believe in ensuring the survival of opera. Through these contributions, young talent is afforded a highly accessible opportunity to pursue recognition from one of THE premier opera organizations in the world, the Metropolitan Opera.

These local committees are comprised entirely of volunteers, who devote countless hours to the organization and fundraising of their auditions. The Eastern Region Committee is comprised of a 12 volunteers who meet regularly throughout the year and staff the local auditions. The Eastern Region holds a fundraising gala at the conclusion of the auditions, featuring a concert by the winners from its competition. Each committee runs its budget so that operating costs are minimal and donations primarily go to the cash prizes that support the singers’ careers.

How can you donate?
Contact your District/Regional Committee, in our Eastern Region (NYC) case, here is our information
Purchase tickets to attend our elegant Black Tie Benefit Gala
If you attend the District and/or Regional Audition Competitions as an audience member, a small donation is requested

How can you get involved?
Click here to volunteer or sign up to receive our e-newsletter.

The Eastern Region would like to thank our esteemed donors for perpetuating the fine art of opera, and for giving these young singers the opportunity to compete on the world's stage.

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