The Metropolitan Opera National Council (MONC) Northwest Regional Finals took place on Sunday afternoon, March 4th when eleven singers competed for prize money and a chance to advance to the National Semi-Finals round in New York in April. This group of eleven had advanced from four Regional MONC competitions: Oregon, Washington, Idaho/Montana, and Vancouver, BC (who had come from all parts of Canada). The always exciting event was held in the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, a perfect recital venue within the confines of Seattle’s Benaroya Hall.
As always, the judges, Edward Berkely, Gregory Henkel and Bénédicte Jourdois, had their work cut out for them as all of the competitors displayed considerable artistry and stage presence. Nevertheless, they did what they were there to do and selected a soprano, Ashley Dixon as the first-prize winner of $5,000. As one of a dozen Regional winners from across the United States, Ms. Dixon will go to New York in April for musical preparation under the guidance of the Met’s music staff. The 12 then audition on the Met stage in the National Semi-Finals on April 22nd. All National Finalists remain in residence at the Met for another week, receiving additional coaching by the Met staff, before competing in front of a public audience and a distinguished panel of judges in the Grand Finals Concert on April 29th.
The judges awarded two second-place prizes (of $3,000) to Shane Hanson, a countertenor, and soprano Jasmin White. You’ll recall that Ms. White was one of three competitors that advanced from our own, Oregon Auditions, last October, and thrilled her audience at the opening luncheon of our 2017-18 Season.
While the judges were deliberating, the concert-goers were treated to two arias by Australian bass-baritone, Daniel Sumegi, who was in town to sing in Seattle Opera’s production of Beatrice and Benedict. Mr. Sumegi’s opera career began in 1988 and he has sung in many of the world’s leading opera houses, including the Met. His perspective on what it takes to have such a career was both enlightening and entertaining.