Metropolitan Opera Middle/East Tennessee District Auditions

People today are familiar with the popular TV shows The Voice and American Idol, where talented singers compete in front of judges and a live audience in hopes of capturing the prize of stardom. A similar competition has been taking place in the opera world since 1954. The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions take place each year in 42 Districts and 12 Regions throughout the US and Canada and are considered the most prestigious competition for singers seeking to launch an operatic career. On Saturday, January 5, 2019 the Knoxville Opera Guild, in partnership with the Nashville Opera Guild, will host the Middle/East Tennessee District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and you are invited to hear some of the best young operatic voices hoping to advance to the finals on the stage of The Met. Please check back to this page for details about venue and times after November 1, 2018. There is no cost for admission.

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions were designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers. It is a competition in which approximately 1,800 singers compete first in district, region and then semi-final rounds as they are gradually eliminated to six finalists, each claiming $15,000 in prize money and a chance to capture the attention of the opera world. Past National Council winners include many of the world’s greatest opera singers, such as Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman, Teresa Stratas, Shirley Verrett, and Frederica von Stade, as well as some of opera’s best-known contemporary stars. Current Met singers who were winners in the National Council Auditions include sopranos Renée Fleming, Angela Meade, Susanna Phillips, and Patricia Racette; mezzo-sopranos Stephanie Blythe, Susan Graham, and Dolora Zajick; and baritones Thomas Hampson, and Eric Owens. On average, nearly one hundred National Council Audition alumni sing in Met performances every opera season. Knoxville has seen its share of winners; Cheryl Studer in 1978, Delores Ziegler in 1979 and Roy Smith in 1990 took to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera and walked away with the coveted prize.

Melissa Wegner is the Associate Director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a faculty member at Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute Program for Singers. Ms. Wegner has been a frequent guest at conservatories, universities and summer festivals speaking on the topics of auditioning, finance, and careers in the arts. In addition to the District and Region auditions of the Met’s National Council Auditions, she has also adjudicated the SAI Vocal Competition, the McCammon Voice Competition, and the Belvedere Competition. As a soprano, Ms. Wegner has performed opera, concerts and recitals in the United States and Europe. She joined New York City Opera as a Supertitles Associate and continues this work on a freelance basis with organizations including BAM, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Opera Orchestra of New York. Ms. Wegner is a member of Families of FANA WNY, which fundraises to support the orphanage in Colombia from which she was adopted. She is a Trustee of the Foundation Board of SUNY Potsdam, and founding member of the Alumni Board of Bard Conservatory’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program. Ms. Wegner holds degrees from Bard College, The Manhattan School of Music, and The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.

The Metropolitan National Council Auditions require five operatic arias in two or more languages of varying styles that best represent the singer’s current stage of vocal development. In addition to selecting the district finalists, the judges meet individually with each singer after the audition coaching them on language, style, and musicianship essential for future successful operatic auditions.

Singers auditioning in Knoxville will be coming from near and far. “We have applicants from Berlin, Indiana, Georgia and New York,” said Phyllis Driver, district co-director. The winners of Knoxville’s auditions will compete in the Southeast Regional Finals.