Metropolitan Opera announces 21 semifinalists in its Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition
Semifinalists move on to a closed but livestreamed competition on the Met stage on Sunday, April 24, for the chance to advance to the Grand Finals
Finalists to compete at the public Grand Finals Concert, accompanied by the Met Orchestra and conductor Marco Armiliato, and hosted by soprano Nadine Sierra on Sunday, May 1
Winners will receive individual cash prizes of $20,000 and invaluable exposure in the opera world
New York, NY (April 1, 2022)— The 21 opera singers who have won regional auditions around the United States will compete in the semifinal round of the Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition on Sunday, April 24, beginning at 11AM ET. The semifinal competition, held on the Met stage before a panel of judges but available to the public via a video livestream, will determine the select group of finalists who will advance to the final round of the competition—the Grand Finals on Sunday, May 1, at 3PM ET. The pianists for the semifinal round are Lachlan Glen and Bénédicte Jourdois, both alumni of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artists Program.
Registration is free but required to view the semifinal competition; for details about how to register, visit metopera.org/semifinals. The Laffont Grand Finals is open to the public and will also be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on Sirius XM channel 355 and streamed live on the Met’s website. Tickets for the Grand Finals Concert are on sale now and may be purchased at the Met box office, by phone at 212.362.6000, or online at metopera.org.
The Laffont Competition is open to singers from the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as other international entrants training or residing in those countries. This season, the competition had more than 1,100 applicants, with more than 800 singers qualifying for the 39 district auditions, including five in a virtual format and the rest held live. Of the 126 singers in the regional rounds, 21 were named semifinalists.
These auditions are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition, including the Laffont Competition donors and hundreds of volunteers from across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. More than $300,000 in prize money has already been awarded in the district and regional rounds.
About the Semifinalists
The 2022 semifinalists include seven sopranos, four mezzo-sopranos, two countertenors, three tenors, three baritones, one bass-baritone, and one bass.
The seven soprano semifinalists, along with the regions that they represent in the competition and their hometowns, are Rachel Blaustein (Eastern Region: Olney, MD), Mary Hoskins (Rocky Mountain Region: Saratoga Springs, UT), Sophia Hunt (Gulf Coast Region: New York, NY), Alexandra Razskazoff (Southeast Region: New Brighton, MN), Julie Roset (Central Region: Avignon, France) Catherine Thornsley (Northwest Region: Flagstaff, AZ), and Esther Tonea (Western Region: Buford, GA).
The four mezzo-sopranos competing in the semifinals are Anna Kelly (Gulf Coast Region: Atlanta, GA), Maggie Reneé (Eastern Region: New York, NY), Elizabeth Sarian (Eastern Region: Plainview, NY), and Anne Marie Stanley (Upper Midwest Region: Princeton, NJ).
The two countertenor semifinalists are Cody Bowers (Western Region: Newnan, GA) and Nicholas Kelliher (Eastern Region: Baldwin, NY).
The three tenor semifinalists are Matthew Cairns (Great Lakes Region: Toronto, Canada), Daniel O’Hearn (Rocky Mountain Region: Chicago, IL), and Ángel Vargas (Gulf Coast Region: San Juan, Puerto Rico).
The three baritone semifinalist are Dennis Chmelensky (Eastern Region: Berlin, Germany), Erik Grendahl (Eastern Region: Boydton, VA), and Samson McCrady (Central Region: Tucson, AZ).
The bass-baritone semifinalist is Le Bu (Midwest Region: Yan Cheng, China).
The bass semifinalist is Jonas Jud (New England Region: St. Gallen, Switzerland).
About the Competition
The Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition, formerly known since its founding in 1954 as the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, is now in its 68th season. The Met’s nationwide vocal competition is a potentially career-making opportunity for aspiring opera singers, given the reach of the auditions, the number of applicants, and the program’s long tradition. The Auditions have been crucial in introducing many of today’s best-known stars, including Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Eric Owens, Stephanie Blythe, Hei-Kyung Hong, Sondra Radvanovsky, Lawrence Brownlee, Michael Fabiano, Latonia Moore, Lisette Oropesa, Jamie Barton, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Ryan Speedo Green, and Nadine Sierra.
The competition gained international acclaim with the release of the 2008 feature-length documentary The Audition, directed by award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke, which chronicled the 2007 National Council Auditions season and Grand Finals Concert.
The semifinalists, ranging in age from 23 to 31, arrive at the Met on Friday, April 22, to rehearse for the semifinals competition on Sunday, April 24. The finalists of this event will then go on to sing in the Grand Finals Concert on Sunday, May 1, at 3PM ET, hosted by Nadine Sierra, who was a Grand Finals winner in 2009.
The finalists who advance to the Grand Finals will have a week of training with Met musical and dramatic coaches to prepare for the Grand Finals Concert. Each finalist will sing two arias on the Met stage with conductor Marco Armiliato leading the Met Orchestra. Sierra will perform for the audience while the judges deliberate. Following the performance, the winners will be announced, each of whom will receive a cash prize of $20,000 and career-making exposure. Results will be posted to the @metoperacompetition Facebook and Instagram accounts.