Airs, Saturday, July 7 at 1:00 p.m. The Metropolitan Opera presents the winners of the 2012 National Council Auditions. They are: Janai Brugger, soprano from Darien, IL; Anthony Clark Evans, baritone from Owensboro, KY; Matthew Grills, tenor from Newtown, CT; Margaret Mezzacappa, mezzo-soprano from Euclid, OH; and Andrey Nemzer, countertenor from Moscow, Russia. The winners were selected from nine finalists who performed arias with the MET Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Davis. Each winner receives a cash prize of $15,000, as well as invaluable career exposure: the audience for the auditions includes influential opera executives, artist managers, and music critics, and some of the biggest stars in opera received their first major recognition as National Council Winners.
The Grand Finals Concert is hosted by renowned bass-baritone Eric Owens, a 1996 National Council Auditions winner. During the judges’ deliberations, he gave a special performance of “Ella giammai m’amò,” King Philip’s aria from Verdi’s Don Carlo. The Grand Finals Concert was recorded for broadcast at a later date on public radio stations across the United States.
Nearly 1,500 singers between the ages of 20 and 30 participated in this year’s auditions, which are held annually in 41 districts and 14 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 competition in North America for singers seeking to launch an operatic career.
Past winners of the Met Auditions include many of today’s leading operatic artists such as Renée Fleming, Hei-Kyung Hong, Angela Meade, Susanna Phillips, Sondra Radvanovsky, Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Stephanie Blythe, Dolora Zajick, Nathan Gunn, Lawrence Brownlee, Thomas Hampson and Samuel Ramey. During a typical opera season, over one hundred alumni of the Auditions are on the Met roster. In 2007, the National Council Audition process was captured in an acclaimed documentary, The Audition, which was shown on PBS and released on DVD.