UKOT SWEEPS KENTUCKY DISTRICT ROUND OF 2018-2019 METROPOLITAN OPERA NATIONAL COUNCIL AUDITIONS
On Saturday, November 17, OperaLex hosted the Kentucky District round of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition in the Concert Hall at the Singletary Center for the Arts. Cheers for our home team: UKOT students won four of the five prizes in the competition! As Lexington Herald-Leader arts columnist Rich Copley posted on his blog, Copious Notes, “Only one winner emerged from Saturday’s Kentucky District round of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and it was a home team victory. Taylor Comstock, a tenor who is in his first year of graduate school at the University of Kentucky, took top honors and will go on to compete in the Central Region round of the auditions Jan. 20 at DePaul University in Chicago. It was the second victory this year on the stage of UK’s Singletary Center for the Arts for Comstock, who came in second in the graduate division of the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition in March. If Comstock, who hails from Independence, Missouri, is successful in Chicago, he will go on to compete in the national semi-finals of the competition on the Metropolitan Opera stage in New York. Winning does not guarantee any roles at the Met or entry into its Young Artist program, but it is certainly a resume item worth having.
Taylor Comstock, a tenor who is in his first year of graduate school at the University of Kentucky, took top honors and will go on to compete in the Central Region round of the auditions Jan. 20 at DePaul University in Chicago. It was the second victory this year on the stage of UK’s Singletary Center for the Arts for Comstock, who came in second in the graduate division of the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition in March. If Comstock, who hails from Independence, Missouri, is successful in Chicago, he will go on to compete in the national semi-finals of the competition on the Metropolitan Opera stage in New York. Winning does not guarantee any roles at the Met or entry into its Young Artist program, but it is certainly a resume item worth having.”
Taylor Comstock, tenor, is a student of Dr. Everett McCorvey. He appeared in UK Opera Theatre’s recent production of Silent Night as Der Kronprinz, and sang the role of Alfredo in La Traviata, UKOT’s Spring 2018 production. During the past summer Taylor appeared as a Studio Artist at Wolf Trap Opera, in the title role of Idomeneo. He was a Grand Finalist in thje 2018 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, and holds a BA degree in Vocal Performance/Opera from UK.
Four Encouragement Awards Given at the Auditions:
Four singers received Encouragement Awards, including three UK graduates: baritone Michael Pandolfo from Fort Worth, Texas, countertenor Key’mon Murrah, and mezzo-soprano Maggie Smith, both of Louisville. Soprano Alexandra Bork, whose hometown was listed as Nicholasville, though her professional Facebook page says she is based in London, England, also won an Encouragement Award.
Michael Pandolfo, baritone. From his website: “Fort Worth, Texas, native Michael Pandolfo has been working in opera and musical theatre performance his entire life. Mr. Pandolfo has performed with numerous companies such as The Glimmerglass Festival, The Janiec Opera Company, The Seagle Music Colony, and Fort Worth Opera. He has also performed concert work at various houses across the country, including the Sarasota Opera House, the Mormon Tabernacle, Abravanel Hall, the Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall. He has placed several times in the Kentucky NATS voice competitions. Michael Pandolfo recently graduated from the University of Kentucky with his Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance, where he studied with renowned soprano Cynthia Lawrence.”
Key’mon W. Murrah, counter-tenor. From his website: “My name is Key’mon W. Murrah. I am a graduating Arts Administration major with a minor in Vocal Performance at the University of Kentucky. I plan to pursue a career in Managment, Development, and Advertisement in the arts, along with performing in the major opera houses across the U.S.” Key’mon is a student of Dr. Angelique Clay.
Maggie Smith, mezzo-soprano, is a native of Louisville, Kentucky. She was a student of Dr. Noemi Lugo in the Vocal Music program at UK, graduating in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance. Earlier this year she completed a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from Florida State University, as a student of Dr. Chuck Chandler, himself a PhD graduate of UK’s School of Music.
Alex Bork, soprano, from Nicholasville,Kentucky, is currently based in London, UK. From her Facebook page: “Korean-American soprano Alexandra Bork recently completed her Master’s degree with distinction at the Royal Academy of Music and currently studies with Kathryn Harries. Full roles include the title characters in Madama Butterfly, Suor Angelica (cover), Dido and Aeneas, and Handel’s Serse, as well as Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Ottavia (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro, cover), and the Child in the world premiere of Laura Bowler’s I’m Not a Bit Like a Clown. She has also sung the soprano solos in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder, Mozart’s Vespers, and various cantatas by Vivaldi, Hasse, Bach, and Telemann.”
The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions are a nationwide vocal competition. In this season of auditions there are 42 District auditions sites and 13 Regional auditions sites throughout the continental United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Over 1,500 singers between the ages of 20 and 30 participate in the District audition of his or her choice. Winners at the District level advance to compete in their Region Finals.
The purpose of the National Council Auditions Program is:
To discover exceptional young talent and provide a venue for young opera singers across North America at all levels of development to be heard by representatives of the Metropolitan Opera and to assist those with the greatest potential for operatic careers.
The auditions are held annually in thirteen Regions of the United States and Canada. There are forty-two Districts within these Regions, each providing an opportunity for talented singers to enter the auditions at the local level. The auditions are administered by MONC volunteers in each area. Many of the world’s foremost singers have received awards from the MONC, and over 100 singers on the Metropolitan Opera roster during any given season have auditioned for the National Council auditions. While there are many routes to the stage of the Met, for North American singers the National Council Auditions create an introduction to the company that may otherwise have eluded them. In this 63rd season, approximately 1,500 singers between the ages of 20 and 30 will participate in the District audition of his or her choice.
Approximately 20 Region first place winners will brought to New York for the Semifinal round on March 6, 2016, and approximately 8-10 Semifinalists will advance to the Final round on March 13, 2016, both at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Approximately 4-6 Finalists are selected as National Council Winners. Semifinalists receive $2,500, Finalists receive $5,000 and Winners receive $15,000. The experience for all of the singers is worth a great deal more than the cash prizes. Each of the region winners who comes to New York is eligible to return during the next three years and audition for the Met’s artistic staff for additional grant money up to $5,000. In this way, the National Council has the opportunity to track the singers’ progress and continue to be of assistance in their career development.
Former MONC participants represent a choice sample of important artists appearing on the Met stage. Frederica von Stade and Paul Plishka were auditions participants in the 1960’s; Samuel Ramey, Wendy White and Delores Ziegler in the 1970s; Renee Fleming, Ben Heppner, Kei-Kyung Hong, Denyce Graves, Thomas Hampson, Deborah Voight and Susan Graham in the 1980s; and Paul Groves, Stephanie Blythe, Sondra Radvanovsky and Eric Cutler were all winners during the 1990s. A who’s who of National Council participants from the 2000s includes Lawrence Brownlee, Simon O’Neill, Charles Taylor, Joseph Kaiser, Susanna Phillips, Angela Meade and Alek Shrader.
Previous Kentucky District Audition Winners and more information about the program can be found at www.kymet.org