Oct. 20: Opera stars coming to Grand Forks for Met Opera Auditions Concert

On Saturday, Oct. 20th, three internationally renowned conductors and coaches, Dean Willamson, Nashville Opera; Roger Malouf, Metropolitan Opera; and Laurie Rogers, Opera Sarasota, will serve as judges to select winners at the 55th Annual North Dakota-Manitoba District Auditions of the Met Opera National Council competition.

The Auditions Concert begins at 11 a.m. at Hughes Fine Arts Center and is free and open to the public. Malouf will present a public master class featuring local singers on Friday, Oct. 19, time to be announced. Willamson will also present a public master class featuring singers from the district auditions on Saturday, Oct. 20, at about 3 p.m., following the award ceremony. Both master classes are free and open to the public. Email info@ndmbmetopera.org for more information or visit Facebook at ND-MB District Met Opera Auditions.

This competition is open to aspiring opera singers between the ages of 20 and 30 and aims to identify exceptional young talent and provide a venue for these young singers to be heard by representatives of The Metropolitan Opera. Applications are still open, click for information about eligibility. Three judges at the ND-MB District will listen to the singers perform at least two opera arias and select winners to advance to the Upper Midwest Regional Finals held in St. Paul, Minn., in 2019. Winners from the Regional Levels are sponsored to go to New York in March for the National Council Semi-Finals, and the Finalists selected from that round will perform at the Grand Finals Concert on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. Throughout the four levels of the National Council Auditions, singers compete for nearly half a million dollars of prize money and the prestige of being a “Met Winner.” The ND-MB District Auditions attracts singers from our region, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Manitoba, but has also included competitors from as far away as Texas and New York. Our district has produced National Winners, Finalists and Semi-Finalists with the most recent being Lida Szkwarek, soprano, a ND-MB Met Winner, who competed in the National Semi-Finals in New York in 2014. Ms. Szkwarek and other past winners are performing across the US and Canada as young artists and professional singers.  Christopher Kenney, baritone, also won our District in 2013-2014 and is now a member of the Ryan Young Artist program at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and just signed with an agent at IMG Artists.

The ND-MB Met Auditions and events continue to be free and open to the public thanks to generous sponsorship and individual supporters. This program is supported in part by the University of North Dakota Music Department, a grant from the City of Grand Forks through the Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Region, a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, and Gate City Bank.  Additional services provided by the GF Convention and Visitors Bureau.  Thank you to UND student groups SNATS and MuSoUND for their support. Facilities ADA compliant. Email about other accommodations.

— Royce Blackburn, Music