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Met Opera Announces Its 2010 National Council Auditions Winners

The Metropolitan Opera today announced the winners of the 2010 National Council Auditions. They are: Leah Crocetto of Oxford, Connecticut; Lori Guilbeau of Golden Meadow, Lousiana; Elliot Madore of Toronto, Canada; Nathaniel Peake of Humble, Texas; and Rachel Willis- Sørensen of Tri-Cities, Washington. The winners were selected from nine finalists who performed arias with the Met Orchestra, conducted by Marco Armiliato. Each winner receives a cash prize of $15,000 and even more importantly, the opportunity to launch a major operatic career.

The Grand Finals Concert, hosted by legendary Met artist Marilyn Horne, took place on the Met stage. During the judges' deliberations, Frederica von Stade, the renowned mezzo-soprano and former Auditions winner, gave a special performance featuring arias from Werther and La Périchole; this appearance marked the beloved artist's farewell performance on the Met stage. Met General Manager Peter Gelb honored von Stade in a special on-stage presentation following her performance.

The Grand Finals Concert was recorded for broadcast at a later date on public radio stations across the United States. Check local listings for air times.

Nearly 1,500 singers between the ages of 20 and 30 years old participated in this year's auditions, which are held annually in 45 districts and 15 regions throughout the United States and Canada and are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council. Given the reach of the auditions, the number of applicants, and the long tradition associated with them, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions are considered the most prestigious in North America for singers seeking to launch an operatic career. The National Council Audition process was recently captured in an acclaimed documentary, The Audition, which was shown on PBS and released on DVD. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke, The Audition has increased awareness and interest in these auditions. The documentary, which has been hailed by audiences and critics alike, will be aired again on New York's WNET Channel 13 on Monday, March 15.

Even more important than the cash prizes is the contestants' chance to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra on the historic opera house stage before an audience that includes opera company executives, artist managers, music critics, and other opinion-makers of the music world. Some winners are invited to join the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, which assists talented young singers through training and performance opportunities at the Met. The remaining four finalists: Rena Harms of Santa Fe, New Mexico; Haeran Hong of Kang Won, South Korea; Hyo Na Kim of Seoul, South Korea; and Maya Lahyani of Hod-Hasharon, Israel, were each awarded $5,000.

Past winners of the Met Auditions include many of today's leading operatic artists such as Stephanie Blythe, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Ben Heppner, Hei-Kyung Hong, Samuel Ramey, and Deborah Voigt. During a typical opera season, more than one hundred alumni of the Auditions are on the Met roster.

Winners Biographical Notes
The following are brief biographical notes for the 2010 National Council Auditions winners. The region in which each singer won the earlier round of competition is notated at the end of his or her biography.

Leah Crocetto

Soprano (Oxford, Connecticut)

Age 30
Leah Crocetto is a second-year Adler fellow with San Francisco Opera and is a first place, People's Choice, and Spanish Prize winner of the José Iturbi International Music Competition, as well as a winner of the Bel Canto Foundation competition. This season's engagements include Sister Dolcina in Puccini's Suor Angelica and Pergolesi's Stabat Mater with the San Francisco Opera, the Verdi Requiem with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Handel's Messiah in Anchorage, and Estelle in Weisgall's The Stronger with the San Francisco Opera Center. She is a former member of the Sarasota Opera Apprentice Artists Program and San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program. (Southeast Region)

Lori Guilbeau

Soprano (Golden Meadow, Louisiana)

Age 24

Among Lori Guilbeau's recent performances are the title role of Fauré's Pénélope, Geraldine in Barber's A Hand of Bridge, and Irenée Marguerite de Pointevent in Raffaello De Banfield's Lord Byron's Love Letter at the Manhattan School of Music; Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with the Shreveport Opera; Dorothée in Cendrillon at Belgium's Intermezzi Festival; and Poppea in L'Incoronazione di Poppea at the International Institute of Vocal Arts. Later this season she will be heard in concerts in Mexico, Switzerland, and Norway. She has trained with the Marilyn Horne Foundation, was a Young Artist with San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Center, and is a 2010 master of music candidate at the Manhattan School of Music. (Eastern Region)

Elliot Madore
Baritone (Toronto, Canada)
Age 22
Current and upcoming performances for Elliot Madore include the title role of Don Giovanni and the Music Master and Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Tanglewood Music Center, Figaro in IL Barbiere di Siviglia with the Curtis Opera Theatre, Schaunard in La Bohème with Opera Colorado, and Oronte in Médée with Chicago Opera Theatre. He is a 2010 finalist in the Houston Grand Opera's Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers, was the 2009 winner of the junior division of the Palm Beach Vocal Competition, and is working toward his master of music degree at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music. (Middle Atlantic Region)

Nathaniel Peake
Tenor (Humble, Texas)
Age 28
This summer Nathaniel Peake joins the Wolf Trap Opera as a FileNe Young Artist. At Wolf Trap he is scheduled to sing Sultan Soliman in Zaïde, Albazar in Il Turco in Italia, and Snout/The Wall in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Recent performances include Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore with the Houston Grand Opera, Fritz in L'Amico Fritz with the San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program, and Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette and Don José in Marius Constant's Bizet adaptation La Tragédie de Carmen with the Syracuse Opera. He is currently a member with the Houston Grand Opera Studio, received the 2009 Audience Choice Prize from the Eleanor McCollum Voice Competition, and received his master of music degree from Michigan State University. (Mid-South Region)

Rachel Willis-Sørensen
Soprano (Tri-Cities, Washington)
Age 25
Currently a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Rachel Willis-Sørensen's upcoming performances include Masha in The Queen of Spades, Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, and Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor with the Houston Grand Opera and the First Lady in Die Zauberflöte with the Santa Fe Opera. She has also sung the title role of Suor Angelica, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Musetta in La Bohème with Brigham Young University School of Music, where she received her master of music degree in 2009. (Northwest Region)


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