Thursday, July 18, 2013

National Council Audition Winners on the Met's 2013-2014 Roster

Like every year, the Met roster for the new season is full of National Council Winners.  Our new volunteer Clark Rahman has compiled a list of singers in the 2013-2014 season which have won the National Council Auditions.  I have highlighted the winners who came through the Eastern Region in red.

SingerYear WonProductionRoleProductionRoleProductionRole
Sondra Radvanovsky 1995NormaNormaToscaTosca
Angela Meade2007NormaNormaFalstaffAlice Ford
Susanna Phillips2005Così fan tutteFiordiligiLa BohèmeMusettaDie FledermausRosalinde
Michael Fabiano2007Die FledermausAlfred
Paul Appleby2009Two BoysBrian
Stephanie Blythe1994FalstaffMistress Quickly
Lisette Oropesa2005FalstaffNannettaWertherSophie
Eric Owens1996Magic FluteSarastro
Nathan Gunn1994Magic FlutePapgeno
Alek Shrader2007Magic FluteTamino
Renee Fleming1988Rusalka Rusalka
Susan Graham1988Enchanted IslandSycorax
Deborah Voigt1988WozzeckMarie
Thomas Hampson1981WozzeckWozzeck
Lawrence Brownlee2001I PuritaniRamiro
Jennifer Johnson Cano2008FalstaffMeg PageAndrea ChernierBersi
James Valenti2002Madama ButterflyPinkerton
Maria Zifchak 1998Madama ButterflySuzuki
Anthony Roth Costanzo2009Enchanted IslandFerdinand
Eric Cutler1998Der RosenkavalierA Singer
Christian Van Horn2003La BohèmeColline

Friday, July 12, 2013

The 2013-2014 Application

The new application is now available, which means this is the official start of the 61st year of the National Council Auditions.

First off, we are extremely excited to introduce our new online application.  It is now possible to fill out your application online and submit all your info electronically to the correct region.  Just follow the instructions on the Met's website and all your info will be send to us automatically as long as you select the New York District, which then automatically locks you into the Eastern Region.

We encourage you to apply online to facilitate the application process.  You will get a confirmation from the Met saying your application has been submitted and then we will contact you as well to confirm your application.

Your application will not be complete until you have submitted your application fee.  You can mail us a check made out to MONC/Eastern Region (see address below) or you can pay through Paypal.

If you do not wish to apply through the new online application, you can still download the paper application here.  Once you have filled it out you can either email it or mail it to:

Stefanie Van Steelandt
250 East 54th Street #10D
New York, NY 10022

All applications must be received by November 1st, 2013.  Late submissions will not be accepted.

After doing this for three years now I have made quite a list of FAQs.  If you have any more, don't hesitate to contact me or check out our website.

When it comes to the actual application, please keep the following in mind:

  • Read the Governing Regulations carefully and don't forget to sign them when sending in your application.  A few things to pay specific attention to:
    • Age: Your birth date must fall on or between August 1, 1983 and July 31st, 1993 in order to audition during the 2013-2014 season.  
    • Past Audition Participants: If you have auditioned in previous seasons, you may participate again this season.  Singers who have reached the Grand Finals Concert or who have been in the National Semi-Finals twice can no longer apply. They can, however, apply to be heard by the Metropolitan Opera National Council Education Fund.
  • You may audition in any District you wish, regardless if you live in the area or not.  If you are selected to continue on to the Region Finals, you must do it in the region of which you were a district winner.  For this group, that is the New York District and the Eastern Region.
  • At the auditions we will provide you with a pianist.  If you wish to bring your own accompanist at your own expensive, you are able to do so.  You can mark your choice on your application, and it is okay to change your mind at a later date as long as you let us know.
  • The application asks you to provide us with five arias you wish to perform during the auditions.  Of these five, you can choose the first one yourself, while the judges will select a second one for you if they find it necessary.  The five choices on the application are not set in stone.  You can change the arias up to the moment you audition.  If you notify us up to a day before your audition we can change the arias for you in our files.  If you have any last-minute chances, you can announce them on stage just before you audition.  If you continue on to the Region Finals, you can keep the same five arias or you can change them again.
  • If you are not a US-Citizen, it is still possible to apply as long as you show proof of a one-year residency or if you are enrolled in a US or Canadian college or conservatory.  You will be eligible to receive your prize money, however different tax rules will apply.
  • Feedback will not be given at the District Auditions due to the volume of applicants, except to those moving on to the Region Finals.  Feedback will be available during the Region Finals for all singers.

When submitting your application, don't forget to include the following:

  • The actual application and a signed governing regulations form.
  • A résumé - One Page!
  • The non-refundable application fee of $30.  
  • A photocopy of your legal proof of age, such as driver's license, birth certificate or passport.
  • A headshot.  If you mail in your application a hard-copy is fine, but preferably we would also like to receive a digital copy.
  • If applicable, proof of one-year residency or college attendance.

Please keep a copy of your application for your records, especially so you remember which arias you specified.  If you applied through the online application, a copy of your application will be emailed to you automatically.

Once your application has been received and processed, we will send you a confirmation email.  The exact date and time of your audition will be emailed to you at the beginning of November when all applications have been received.

Please mark the following dates on your calendar when you apply:

  • District Auditions: Tuesday November 19th and Wednesday November 20th, 2013 at Merkin Hall, New York, NY
  • Region Finals: Thursday January 16th, 2014 at Merkin Hall, New York, NY
  • Arrival in New York for Semi-Finalists: Thursday March 20, 2014 (and the following two days)
  • National Semi-Finals: Sunday March 23, 2014
  • National Grand Finals Concert: Sunday March 30, 2014 (you must be in NY from one week prior for rehearsals…)

The District Auditions and Region Finals are open to the public, so tell your friends and family to keep the dates free as well.  More info on attending as an audience member will follow later.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Divertissement: Swarovski at the Met

If you walk along Lincoln Center Plaza on a hot summer day, one is struck by the tranquility. However, just like in opera, this stillness is just an illusion. The MET backstage is buzzing with activity, from the carpenters who are busy building the sets for next season, to the cleaning crew who does a thorough 'summer' polishing of the Met.

Once a year, the famous starburst chandeliers are brought down for a thorough cleaning. At the same time, all the burned out lights are replaced. Until 2008, this was the only cleaning the chandeliers had received since 1966, when they were first installed.

The chandeliers were a $160,000 gift from the Austrian government as a thanks for the American aid the country received after WWII. They were a collaboration between two companies who were no stranger to majestic chandeliers. J & L Lobmeyr, founded in 1823 and owned to this day by the Rath family, designed and installed the chandeliers. They have made pieces for the Kremlin, Salzburg Opera and Vienna State Opera. Then there is Swarovski, another family owned Viennese company founded in 1895. Among others, they made the 14 meter tall chandelier in the Sultan Quaboos Grand Mosque in Oman.

After the Austrian government made the gift, Hans Harald Rath (owner of Lobmeyr at the time), came to NY to discuss the design of the chandeliers with Wallace K. Harrison, the Met's architect. Rath was given free reign, but it was quickly decided the chandeliers should be able to move up and down to mimic the movement of the curtain. Rath's first idea was not received very well, so Harrison gave him a book on the big bang theory for inspiration.

Grand Mosque in Oman - Courtesy of
6000 Miles from Civilization
The 32 chandeliers consist of 1000 wood and metal spheres called Sputniks, after the Soviet satellites, which hold them together. The metal rods, known as rays, reach out at different angles from the Sputniks and hold the Swarovski crystals in place. Twenty-one of the chandeliers are located in the auditorium, including the 18- foot masterpiece which weighs 1.5 ton. Eleven chandeliers are located in the lobby and Grand Tier restaurant, together with 138 wall scones. There is also a chandelier in the Opera Club, which was restored in 2006.

This started the process of refurbishing and refinishing the eleven starbursts in the lobby in 2008, getting them ready for Opening Night of the 125th season. They were packed in eighteen crates and shipped to Vienna, where Swarovski replaced the 49,000 pieces of crystal. Swarovski donated the crystals and funded the $1 million restoration project led by Lobmeyr. The original crystals, which are now for sale in the MetOpera shop for a price of $7000 to $16000, were cut by hand. This time around, they were cut and polished by machine, which makes them appear even more brilliant.

Forty-seven years have not diminished the awe-inspiring effect of the chandeliers, but their biggest tribute came on September 16, 1966 as the new Met opened its doors for the very first time. The first ovation in the house reportedly came when the chandeliers rose to the ceiling for the very first time.  No matter how often one goes to the Met, it is always a thrill to see the chandeliers go up.  It is as much a part of the Met experience as taking a picture of the Chagalls or looking over Lincoln Center Plaza from the Grand Tier.

NY Times July 23, 1963 - Austria to light Met's new home
NY Times July 18, 2008 - Bright Lights of the Met Opera Lobby are put out for Repairs
Swarovski Press Release - Dazzling Restoration at the Metropolitan Opera House