Music News & Reviews

24 singers will put their voices to test at Met Auditions in Lexington

Many will enter. Few will win. That old lottery slogan has become more and more applicable to the Kentucky District round of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions since they have been held in Lexington.

Once a showdown between a dozen or so singers from around the state, Kentucky District audition organizers now have to cap the entries at 30 to allow the competition to happen in a reasonable amount of time.

But unlike the lottery, the competitors have some control over their destinies. Students, young professionals and amateurs put hundreds of hours of practice into the arias they prepare for a few minutes before the judges.

This year's judges are Gayletha Nichols, director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions; Joan Dornemann, Metropolitan Opera prompter and co-founder of the International Vocal Arts Institute; and Douglas Ahlstedt, voice professor at Carnegie Mellon School of Music in Pittsburgh.

The judges usually pick three winners, though they have been known to select four, to advance to the Mid-South Regional Audition, which will be Jan. 26 in Memphis. From there, traditionally one winner advances to the national semifinals on the Metropolitan Opera stage in New York.

The University of Kentucky usually sends some competitors to the regionals, but the national stage is a hard nut to crack. The most recent UK student to make it to the national semifinals was soprano Afton Battle in 2008.

However, the Bluegrass State did produce one of last year's national winners: baritone Anthony Clark Evans of Elizabethtown, who advanced in the prestigious competition through a different district.


Here's a quick snapshot of this year's hopefuls.

Amanda Balltrip, 27, soprano. Hometown: Hazard. Education: Bachelor's and master's, University of Kentucky.

Francisco Bedoy, 25, tenor. Guadalajara, Mexico. Bachelor's, University of Guadalajara; pursuing master's, UK.

Andre Campelo, 27, baritone. Goiânia, Brazil. Bachelor's, University of Goiás, Brazil; pursuing master's, UK.

Ricky Lynn Case, 25, tenor. Louisville. Pursuing bachelor's, University of Louisville.

Allan Palacios Chan, 28, tenor. Northern Virginia. Bachelor's, George Mason University; master's, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Rebecca Farley, 22, soprano. Henderson. Pursuing bachelor's, UK.

Jonathan R. Green, 29, baritone. Chicago. Bachelor's, Oberlin Conservatory of Music; pursuing master's, UK.

Thomas Gunther, 29, baritone. Muscatine, Iowa. Master's, University of Nebraska, Lincoln; artists diploma, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Mary-Hollis Hundley, 24, soprano. Louisville. Bachelor's, UK; pursuing master's, Mannes College, The New School for Music.

Jihyun Jang, 29, soprano. Seoul, South Korea. Master's, Peabody Conservatory; pursuing doctorate, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Evan LeRoy Johnson, 20, tenor. Pine Island, Minn. Pursuing bachelor's, UK.

Esther Kang, 25, soprano. Philadelphia. Bachelor's, Temple University; master's, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Sarah Klopfenstein, 30, mezzo-soprano. Bachelor's, Texas Christian University; master's and pursuing doctorate, UK.

Ursula Kuhar, 28, mezzo-soprano. Powell, Ohio. Bachelor's, Butler University; master's, Indiana University.

Joseph Lattanzi, 25, baritone. Cincinnati. Bachelor's, Oberlin Conservatory; pursuing master's, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Jackline Madegwa, 28, soprano. Champaign, Ill. Bachelor's, Alderson-Broaddus College; master's and pursuing doctorate, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.Alyssa Martin, 23, mezzo-soprano. Bachelor's and pursuing master's, Indiana University.

Whitney Myers, 28, soprano. Johnson City, Tenn. Bachelor's, UK; master's, University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Fotina Naumenko, 24, soprano. Rochester, N.Y. Bachelor's, Eastman School of Music; master's, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Edward Nelson, 24, baritone. Los Angeles. Bachelor's and pursuing master's, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.Matthew Turner, 24, bass. Jackson. Bachelor's in accounting and pursuing bachelor's in voice, UK.

Valerie Vinzant, 28, soprano. Spring, Texas. Bachelor's, Southern Methodist University; master's, Indiana University.

Jacob Brian Waid, 20, baritone. Paducah. Pursuing bachelor's, UK.

Danielle Lynnette Wilson, 27, soprano. Lexington. Bachelor's and master's, Morehead State University.