POCATELLO, ID – Idaho State University will host the Metropolitan Opera National Council district audition, which is the preliminary tryout for the most prestigious opera company in the United States, on Nov. 16.
The auditions, open to public, will be held Saturday, Nov. 16, beginning at 1 p.m., in the Joseph C. and Cheryl H. Jensen Grand Concert Hall of the L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center. This is the second time these auditions, for the Metropolitan Opera’s Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana District, have been held in Idaho.
“This is such a great opportunity for the University and the community and our four students,” said Diana Livingston Friedley, ISU professor of voice and audition director. “We are delighted that the Metropolitan Opera has granted us permission to host the district-level round.”
The Met Auditions are part of ISU Opera Week activities, which also include a Nov. 14 Opera Idaho production of Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro” at Jensen Grand Concert Hall in the Stephens Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. and educational events.
Idaho State University was able to land the auditions primarily because of the quality of the Jensen Grand Concert Hall as a singing venue and the reputation of its choral programs.
“Probably the most important reason we were considered a viable site is the Stephens Performing Arts Center, in my opinion, the premier performing venue in the Northwest,” Livingston Friedley said. “Its acoustics are unbelievable and everybody who performs there can’t believe it is here in Pocatello. We are lucky to have this world-class venue. People coming to this audition, including the international judges, are going to be floored by our facility.”
Although the audition is in the Metropolitan Opera’s Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana district, organizers hope to attract singers from Utah, Oregon, Alaska and Western Canada. Winners of the district audition advance to the Northwest Regional Competition in January at the University of Washington in Seattle.
This year, Idaho State University Department of Music will have four students competing including Emma Doupé from Middleton; Jerrica Matthews, from Liberty, Bear Lake County; John Punt, Idaho Falls; and Lakota Terrace, Mackay. Audience members will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite performer after all the contestants have sung. On Sunday, Nov. 17 a master-class featuring ISU music majors and Thomas Muraco will be held in the Marshall Rotunda beginning at 10 a.m. This class is open to the public and free of charge.
The Met’s National Council Auditions are designed to provide visibility to promising young opera singers and to assist in the development of their careers. The auditions are held annually in 15 regions of the United States and Canada. Within those regions are 45 districts, each providing an opportunity for talented singers to audition at the local level. National Council members and volunteers in each region conduct the auditions.
Winners of the district auditions advance to their region finals where they compete to win a trip to New York to participate in the National Semi-Finals, a competition held on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. Approximately 10 of the Semi-Finalists will be selected as National Finalists and will compete the following Sunday in a public concert, the Grand Finals Concert, accompanied by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. The jury will award up to five Grand Winner Awards of $15,000 each. The remaining National Finalists will receive $5,000 each. Those singers who were National Semi-Finalists but did not advance to the National Finals will be given $1,500 to further their studies.
Many of the world’s foremost singers now appear in Metropolitan Opera productions. Annually, approximately 100 former auditioners appear in Metropolitan Opera productions.
The Idaho State University auditions will feature quality judges, including Grammy-nominated opera conductor Sara Jobin; internationally-renowned soprano Sally Wolf; and collaborative artist, Thomas Muraco from the Manhattan School of Music.
Volunteers interested in donating time or money to support this competition and the artists who will be singing can contact Diana Livingston Friedley at 208-282-2611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Admission to the auditions is adult, $8; faculty and staff, $6; pre-college $4; and ISU students are admitted free of charge with Bengal cards. The Stephens Center Box Office will open at 11:30 a.m. the day of the event.