Five Singers Named Winners of the 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions
After a months-long series of auditions involving more than 1,000 singers at the district, regional, and national levels, a panel of expert judges named five singers as the winners of the 65th annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Each winner receives a $15,000 cash prize.
The 2019 winners, the regions they represent in the competition, and their hometowns are:
Thomas Glass, 28, baritone (Rocky Mountain Region: Edina, Minnesota)
Miles Mykkanen, 27, tenor (Upper Midwest Region: Bessemer, Michigan)
William Guanbo Su, 24, bass (Eastern Region: Beijing, China)
Elena Villalón, 21, soprano (Central Region: Austin, Texas)
Michaela Wolz, 23, mezzo-soprano (Midwest Region: Eureka, Missouri)
Earlier this afternoon, nine finalists performed on the Met stage in the Grand Finals Concert, the final phase of the competition, hosted by countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, a 2009 National Council Auditions winner. Each finalist sang two arias with the Met Orchestra, led by Carlo Rizzi, followed by a special guestperformance by bass-baritone Christian Van Horn, who won the 2003 Auditions. The judges for the Grand Finals Concert were Jonathan Friend, Paul Hopper, Melissa Wegner, and Diane Zola from the Met's artistic staff, as well as guest judge Alexander Neef, representing the Canadian Opera Company and Santa Fe Opera.
The remaining four finalists, who each receive a $7,500 cash prize, are:
- Piotr Buszewski, 26, tenor (Middle Atlantic Region: Warsaw, Poland)
- Dashuai Chen, 28, tenor (Great Lakes Region: Shanghai, China)
- Alaysha Fox, 27, soprano (Eastern Region: Queens, New York)
- Meghan Kasanders, 27, soprano (Upper Midwest Region: Darien, Illinois)
The district-level and regional auditions, held across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council and administered by National Council members and hundreds of volunteers from across the country. Currently in its 65th year, the program has launched the careers of such well-known stars as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Deborah Voigt, Lawrence Brownlee, Thomas Hampson, Eric Owens,Angela Meade, Nadine Sierra, Jamie Barton, and Ryan Speedo Green. The competition garnered international attention with the release of the 2008 feature-length documentary The Audition, directed by award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke, which chronicled the 2007 National Council Auditions season and Grand Finals Concert.
Biographies of the 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Winners
Thomas Glass, baritone (Edina, Minnesota)
Baritone Thomas Glass is a second-year studio artist at Houston Grand Opera, where he sings Marcello in Puccini's La Bohème and Álvaro in Daniel Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas. Last season at HGO, he performed Baron Douphol in Verdi's La Traviata, Fiorello in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Officer Krupke in Bernstein'sWest Side Story, and outdoor performances of Figaro in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He was previously a Filene young artist at Wolf Trap Opera, giving his debuts as Mercutio in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette and as the baritone soloist in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the National Symphony Orchestra. He was also a participant in the Merola Opera Program, where he was featured in the Schwabacher Summer Concert.
Miles Mykkanen, tenor (Bessemer, Michigan)
Miles Mykkanen debuts this season as Lt. Sprink in Kevin Puts's Silent Night at Opera Saratoga, Flute in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Opera Philadelphia, and Brighella in fully-staged performances of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos with the Cleveland Orchestra. He joins the roster of the Bavarian State Opera, covering the role of Admète in Gluck's Alceste. He has been heard at Tanglewood, Canadian Opera Company, Ravinia Music Festival, the New York Philharmonic, Arizona Opera, Bard Music Festival, Palm Beach Opera, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Mostly Mozart Festival, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and the Marlboro Festival.
William Guanbo Su, bass (Beijing, China)
Bass William Guanbo Su is currently pursuing his master's degree at the Juilliard School. He was recently awarded second prize at the Eleanor McCollum Competition and will be joining to the Houston Grand Opera studio as a young artist next season. This year he returns to the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist. He was previously a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, where he sang Don Basilio in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Other roles include Pluton in Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie, Herr Reich in Nicolai's The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Seneca in Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea. He recently made his Carnegie Hall solo debut with The Cecilia Chorus of New York.
Elena Villalón, soprano (Austin, Texas)
Soprano Elena Villalón joins Houston Grand Opera's studio artist program in the 2019-2020 season, after being a finalist and winning the audience prize in the 31st annual Eleanor McCollum Competition. She has been a vocal fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and at Houston Grand Opera's Young Artist Vocal Academy. Upcoming performances include Adele in Strauss's Die Fledermaus at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), Barbarina in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist, and a return to the Tanglewood Music Center as a soprano fellow. Previous appearances at CCM include Lucy in Menotti's The Telephone, and Miss Wordsworth in Britten's Albert Herring.
Michaela Wolz, mezzo-soprano (Eureka, Missouri)
Mezzo-soprano Michaela Wolz returned home to perform with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist, covering the role of Pvt. Stanton in the world premiere of Huang Ruo's An American Soldier. At Opera Theatre, she previously covered Annio in Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito. She returns again this summer as a Gaddes Festival Artist, portraying Amore in Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea. Other notable roles include Dorabella in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Mère Marie in Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites, Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, Bradamante in Handel's Alcina, Presendia in Nico Muhly's Dark Sisters, Cherubino in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, and Stewardess in Jonathan Dove's Flight.
Photo credit: Ken Howard