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Five Singers Named 2020 Winners Of The Metropolitan Opera's National Council Auditions

After a months-long series of competitions at the district, regional, and national levels, a panel of expert judges named five singers as the winners of the 2020 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Each winner receives a $20,000 cash prize-up from $15,000, the first increase since 1998-and the prestige and exposure that come with winning the competition that launched the careers of many of opera's biggest stars.

The 2020 winners, the regions they represent in the competition, and their hometowns are:

· Gabrielle Beteag, 25, mezzo-soprano (Southeast Region: Lilburn, GA)

· Blake Denson, 24, baritone (Midwest Region: Paducah, KY)

· Jonah Hoskins, 23, tenor (Rocky Mountain Region: Saratoga Springs, UT)

· Alexandria Shiner, 29, soprano (Middle Atlantic Region: Waterford, MI)

· Denis Vélez, 27, soprano (Gulf Coast Region: Puebla, Mexico)

Earlier this afternoon, nine finalists performed on the Met stage in the final phase of the competition, hosted by soprano Lisette Oropesa, a 2005 National Council winner. Each finalist sang two arias with the Met Orchestra, led by Bertrand de Billy, followed by a guest performance by tenor Javier Camarena while the judges deliberated. The audience for the Grand Finals Concert, which was open to the public, included artistic directors of leading opera companies, artist managers, important teachers and coaches, music critics, and many other industry professionals with the potential to play an influential role in the career of a young singer. The concert was also streamed live on the Met's website and heard live on satellite radio.

The remaining four finalists, who each receive a $10,000 cash prize (up from $7,500), are:

· Lindsay Kate Brown, 28, mezzo-soprano (Upper Midwest Region: Waterloo, NY)

· Chasiti Lashay, 27, soprano (Western Region: Houston, TX)

· Jana McIntyre, 28, soprano (Midwest Region: Santa Barbara, CA)

· Xiaomeng Zhang, 29, baritone (New England Region: Wenzhou, China)

For the first time since 1998, the cash prizes increased to $20,000 for the winners and $10,000 for the remaining finalists to further their careers. Lisette Oropesa generously donated $25,000 this year to inspire a permanent increase in the award amounts, with many existing donors committing to join the effort. The National Council has named her its National Advisor in recognition of this gift.

This year's finalists were chosen from more than 1,000 singers who participated in auditions held in 40 districts throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, and who then competed in the 12 regional finals. These auditions are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council and administered by National Council members and hundreds of volunteers from across the country.

The Met National Council Auditions, now in their 66th year, have been crucial in introducing many of today's best-known stars, such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Deborah Voigt, Thomas Hampson, Stephanie Blythe, Sondra Radvanovsky, Lawrence Brownlee, Eric Owens, Angela Meade, Lisette Oropesa, Susanna Phillips, Michael Fabiano, Latonia Moore, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Nadine Sierra, Jamie Barton, and Ryan Speedo Green. The competition gained international attention with the release of the 2008 feature-length documentary The Audition, directed by award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke.

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