Anthony Clark Evans, the Elizabethtown Toyota salesman who stunned the opera world by winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, made his debut at the Met on Thursday night in the company’s production of Antonín Dvořák’s “Rusalka.”
“In March it will be five years since I started singing opera and tonight I debut at the Metropolitan Opera,” Evans wrote on his Facebook page Thursday. “This will be the first time singing in this house since my first break at the National Council Auditions. I’m extremely excited to be back!”
Evans also posted a photo of the show poster at Lincoln Center, where he is listed as the Huntsman.
In 2011, Evans was selling cars at Swope Toyota in Elizabethtown when he entered the Met Auditions in Memphis. His surprise journey took him all the way to the Metropolitan Opera stage, where he was one of five winners in the auditions’ 2012 competition.
He did not come to the competition completely untrained, having studied voice at Murray State University and participated in some additional opera programs. But then he had to leave school to take a job to support himself and his wife.
“Obviously, I had this fantasy of, ‘This will be so cool if I win the whole thing,’” Evans said in a 2012 Herald-Leader profile. “But I was more wondering, ‘Are they going to take me seriously?’ I don’t have my college degree. Nobody’s ever heard of me in any other facet of singing. ... And to tell you the truth, none of that stuff really matters when you can put something on the stage that people enjoy.”
Since his Met win, Evans has been busy performing in productions and competitions, including a two-year stint with the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center. Among his recent roles have been Sharpless in “Madama Butterfly” for the San Diego Opera, Marcello in “La Boheme” for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and creating the role of Simon Thibault in the Lyric Opera’s world premiere production of Jimmy Lopez’s “Bel Canto,” adapted from the Ann Patchett novel.
In addition to “Rusalka,” Evans is covering Riccardo in “I Puritani” at the Met.
Evans fans don’t have to travel to New York to see his Met debut role. “Rusalka” will be the Met’s Live HD broadcast Feb. 25, showing at 12:55 p.m. at cinemas including Fayette Mall, Hamburg Pavilion, Richmond Center and The Grand Theatre Frankfort. That performance will also be the Met’s radio broadcast that day, heard locally on WEKU’s Classic 102.1 FM. The opera is a Czech variation on “The Little Mermaid,” with a water nymph giving up her voice to be able to walk on land and pursue a human prince.
Evans will be back in the Bluegrass soon, singing the role of the devil in the Easter oratorio “Thy Will be Done,” by Winchester composer Angela Rice, April 2 at the Singletary Center for the Arts. He will be joined in the production by fellow Metropolitan Opera auditions winner Gregory Turay, the tenor who has sung the role of Jesus in the oratorio since its inception in 2012.
Follow Rich Copley on Facebook and Twitter, @copiousnotes.