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Knoxville Opera Guild hosts 64th annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions

KNOXVILLE — Most people are familiar with the popular TV shows The Voice and American Idol, where talented singers compete in front of judges and a live audience in hopes of capturing stardom. A similar competition has been a hallmark in the opera world since 1954. The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions take place each year in 42 Districts and 12 Regions throughout the US and Canada and are considered the most prestigious competition for singers seeking to launch an operatic career. On Saturday, January 7, 2017 the public is invited to witness the Middle/East Tennessee District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions hosted by Knoxville Opera Guild. The auditions will begin at 10:00 AM in the Powell Recital Hall of the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center at the University of Tennessee. There is no cost for admission.

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions were designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers. Approximately 1,800 singers (each under 30 years old) compete first in district, followed by regional then semi-final rounds. When the pool is narrowed down to six finalists, each singer claims $15,000 in prize money and a chance to capture the attention of the opera world. Past National Council winners include many of the world’s greatest opera singers, such as Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman, Teresa Stratas, Shirley Verrett, and Frederica von Stade, as well as some of opera’s best-known contemporary stars. Current Met singers who were winners in the National Council Auditions include sopranos Renée Fleming, Angela Meade, Susanna Phillips, and Patricia Racette; mezzo-sopranos Stephanie Blythe, Susan Graham, and Dolora Zajick; and baritones Thomas Hampson, and Eric Owens. On average, nearly one hundred National Council Audition alumni sing in Met performances every season. Knoxville has seen its share of winners; Cheryl Studer in 1978, Delores Ziegler in 1979 and Roy Smith in 1990 walked away with the top honors.

At every level of the competition three judges are chosen from a selected list of professionals. Knoxville judges are Nathan DePoint, Mark Gibson, and Melissa Wegner.

The Metropolitan National Council Auditions require five operatic arias of varying styles in two or more languages that best represent the singer’s current stage of vocal development. In addition to selecting the district finalists, the judges will meet individually with each singer after the audition to coach them on language, style, and musicianship essential for future successful operatic auditions.

Singers auditioning in Knoxville will be coming from near and far. “We have applicants from Berlin, Indiana, Georgia and New York,” said Phyllis Driver, district co-director. The winners of Knoxville’s auditions will compete in the Southeast Region Finals on Sunday, February 12, 2017 at Spivey Hall at Clayton State University in Atlanta, GA. The National Semi-Finals and Grand Finals Concert will take place in New York City at the Metropolitan Opera House on the following dates: National Semi-Finals - Sunday, March 12, 2017; National Grand Finals Concert - Sunday, March 19, 2017. For more information, visit:

Published January 31, 2016

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