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BREAKING NEWS: Iowa Soprano 1 of 5 Winners at Met Opera Grand Finals Concert

Soprano Jessica Faselt (right) during the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions at Bethel University in March. Photo courtesy of the Met National Council Upper Midwest Region.

The votes are in for the final round of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. The five winners, chosen based on their performances in the Grand Finals Concert at the Metropolitan Opera, are mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, soprano Jessica Faselt, soprano Madison Leonard, tenor Carlos Enrique Santelli, and mezzo-soprano Hongni Wu.

One of the winners is familiar to Twin Cities opera audiences: soprano Jessica Faselt, an Iowa native and alum of the University of Iowa (she also holds a degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music). Faselt was a winner at the Minnesota District and Upper Midwest stages of the Met Auditions last year, advancing to New York but stopping just short of the final stage. This year, she ran the circuit again – and was again one of the top placers at the local and regional auditions – and continued all the way to New York and into the final lineup of winners.

The other winners come from across the United States and beyond, showing the reach of this national program. Ashley Dixon hails from Peachtree City, Georgia (just south of Atlanta). Carlos Enrique Santelli is currently in a young artist training program with LA Opera. Hongni Wu hails from China, where she studied at Xinghai Conservatory of Music, but completed her graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music. Madison Leonard, currently engaged at Washington National Opera, also has an Iowa connection – she sang with Des Moines Metro Opera in 2016.

Each Grand Finals winner receives a $15,000 prize. The concert was conducted by Bertrand de Billy, with Joyce DiDonato and Bryan Hymel as the featured guest artists who performed during the judges’ deliberations.

L-R: Competition winners Hongni Wu, Jessica Faselt, Carlos Enrique Santelli, Ashley Dixon, and Madison Leonard. Photo by Richard Termine.

Program

  1. “Martern aller Arten” from Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Mozart)
    Emily Misch, Soprano
  2. “Tacea la notte placida … Di tale amor” from Il Trovatore (Verdi)
    Jessica Faselt, Soprano
  3. “Va! laisse couler mes larmes” from Werther (Massenet)
    Megan Grey, Mezzo-Soprano
  4. “Cruda sorte!” from L’Italiana in Algeri (Rossini)
    Hongni Wu, Mezzo-Soprano
  5. “In quali eccessi … Mi tradì” from Don Giovanni (Mozart)
    Danielle Beckvermit, Soprano
  6. “Amour, viens rendre à mon âme” from Orphée et Eurydice (Gluck)
    Ashley Dixon, Mezzo-Soprano
  7. “Gualtier Maldè! … Caro nome” from Rigoletto (Verdi)
    Madison Leonard, Soprano
  8. “O ma lyre immortelle” from Sapho (Gounod)
    Gretchen Krupp, Mezzo-Soprano
  9. “Sì, ritrovarla io giuro” from La Cenerentola (Rossini)
    Carlos Enrique Santelli, TenorIntermission
  10. “Dich, teure Halle” from Tannhäuser (Wagner)
    Jessica Faselt, Soprano
  11. “Down you go” (Controller’s Aria) from Flight (Jonathan Dove)
    Emily Misch, Soprano
  12. “Sein wir wieder gut” from Ariadne auf Naxos (R. Strauss)
    Megan Grey, Mezzo-Soprano
  13. “Wie du warst! Wie du bist!” from Der Rosenkavalier (R. Strauss)
    Hongni Wu, Mezzo-Soprano
  14. “Piangete voi? … Al dolce guidami castel natio” from Anna Bolena (Donizetti)
    Danielle Beckvermit, Soprano
  15. “Enfin, je suis ici” from Cendrillon (Massenet)
    Ashley Dixon, Mezzo-Soprano
  16. “Wo bin ich? Wach’ ich?” from Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck)
    Madison Leonard, Soprano
  17. “Ja, Gretelchen … Hurr hopp hopp hopp” from Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck)
    Gretchen Krupp, Mezzo-Soprano
  18. “Ah! Mes amis … Pour mon âme!” from La Fille du Régiment (Donizetti)
    Carlos Enrique Santelli, Tenor
  19. “Pourquoi me reveiller” from Werther (Massenet)
    Guest Artist: Bryan Hymel, Tenor
  20. “Nuit d’ivresse” from Les Troyens (Berlioz)
    Guest Artist: Joyce DiDonato, Mezzo-Soprano
    Guest Artist: Bryan Hymel, Tenor

View the complete program.

Previous Stages

A list of District and Region winners from the 2017-2018 audition cycle is available online.

Basil Considine

Basil Considine is the Performing Arts Editor and Senior Classical Music and Drama Critic at the Twin Cities Arts Reader. He was previously the Resident Classical Music and Drama Critic at the Twin Cities Daily Planet and remains an occasional contributing writer for The Boston Musical Intelligencer and The Chattanoogan. He holds a PhD in Music and Drama from Boston University, an MTS in Sacred Music from the BU School of Theology, and a BA in Music and Theatre from the University of San Diego.

Basil was named one of Musical America's 30 Professionals of the Year in 2017.

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