#MeettheSingers Districts 2018


Soprano Stephanie Jabre 
Hometown: Natick, MA Age: 29
Favorite Opera : Le nozze di Figaro and La Bohème
Dream Role: Mimi in La Bohème "I have been singing ever since I can remember! I loved the movie The Sound of Music when I was a kid and wanted to be just like Julie Andrews. I like opera because it combines all of the most beautiful art forms (Singing, acting, drama, dancing, costumes, and sets) and puts it all into one creating something truly unbelievable!"


Soprano Rachael Anacker
Hometown: Highland, CA
Age: 26 "My favorite opera is Don Giovanni. I started singing in choirs when I was 5 but really started to get serious about it in high school. I like opera because it combines beautiful music, wonderful poetry, amazing stories, languages, and literature, all of which I love. My dream role right now is Constanze from The Abduction from the Seraglio--I love her arias, one of which I'm singing for the auditions!"


Soprano Jessica Fishenfeld
Hometown: Great Neck, NY
Age: 27
"I come from a very musical family, started singing in elementary school at talent shows, and eventually went to USDAN summer camp for musical theater, which became my passion through high school. However, in addition to musicals, Great Neck South High School - a public school on Long Island - had exceptionally talented music staff members and students, and managed to produce full-length operas in the original language with supertitles every year. I sang the Queen of the Night when I was 15 years old, and have been in love with the drama, vocal challenge, beautiful complex music, and compassion that opera provides ever since!
My favorite opera is Verdi's La Traviata. I've seen it/listened to it hundreds of times and the music and story never gets old for me. Also, my dream role is Violetta in La Traviata. The music Verdi wrote for her is not only stunning to me, but she is also based on a real person, and experiences such an intense emotional and physical journey as a character that I feel like it would be a very meaningful experience to portray her and share her story, hopefully instilling passion, compassion, and the meaning of sacrifice into an audience's heart."


Sopranos Cherisse & Cherissia Williams
Home: Brooklyn, NY
Age 27
"We have two favorite operas: La Bohème & L'elisir d'amore. The orchestration of La Bohème is absolutely beautiful & the ending gets us every time. L'elisir is such a great comedy we always enjoy seeing & hearing it. We started singing at age 3 & come from a very musical family. My identical twin & I would sing duets all the time. Singing came natural to us & we have always loved it. Our parents would have us watch PBS to see The MetOpera's productions, but what really inspired us to become opera singers at the age of 6 was the movie The Fifth Element. My sister & I were obsessed with the singing alien, Diva Plavagaluna! She sang Lucia's aria "Il dolce suono" & at the time we had no clue that that was opera. That day we knew we wanted to be just like the singing alien. As native New Yorkers, The MetOpera and Carnegie Hall were places that you dream of either going to or singing at. Growing up, our parents had us & our 3 older siblings take music lessons & other activities. We started taking voice lessons at age 12. We were also in choirs practically our whole lives. It is no surprise that my twin & I attended Westminster Choir College for our undergraduate studies. Whenever we sang in a choir as children, other children would cover their ears because "we sang too loud." In our ballet class, we were more interested in the music being played than actually dancing! Our teachers saw that we loved music & encouraged us to attend a specialized middle school, The Bay Academy for the Arts & Sciences & then to a specialized high school, Fiorello H. LaGuardia H.S. for the Performing Arts. Opera is an amazing work of art that combines all artistic forms. We love opera because it takes you to places that you have never dreamed of in your wildest imagination. It helps you feel intense emotions whether good or bad. The storytelling of opera and how it is captured through music is a feeling that cannot be put in just one word. Opera is for everyone! Anyone can relate to opera, you just have to find the right one(s)."

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Mezzo-Soprano Mary Kathryn Monday
Hometown: Knoxville, TN
Age: 29
"I love exploring the emotions behind the character and finding a way to evoke those feelings in the audience. With opera, there is always something new to discover, to interpret, and to breathe life into as an artist. I truly appreciate how opera embodies all of the arts in one form. I started singing when I was very young and also took dance, violin, and piano lessons throughout my childhood. The collaboration amongst the arts allows for infinite possibilities of interpretation making it such a thrill to bring to life!"

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Soprano Juliet Morris
Hometown: Dobbs Ferry, NY
Age: 25
Favorite Opera: Lucia di Lammermoor
"I was singing before I was talking. There are videos of me performing happy birthday at around 18 months old. I preferred singing as my main form of communication (I still do).
I LOVE opera because you become immersed in these high intensity, highly powerful universes that the only way to journey through them is through extreme vocals. But more so, most operas that are in the general repertory were written before 1900, however, they can still be interpreted and re-interpreted today in the 21st century. I think opera evolves daily, which is why I love to perform as much of it as I can.
My dream roles are Lucia, Zerbinetta and Konstanze."

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Soprano Chelsea Lehnea
Hometown: Chattanooga, TN
Age: 26 "I started singing onstage as young as three years old at my local church. I started singing opera in college when my voice teacher inspired me to try something new. I'm so glad she did as it has become my passion! I love opera as it is just an explosion of human expression. With the vibrations and emotions from the human voice telling a story combined with the sound of a full orchestra, it is the stuff of magic. Verdi's La Traviata was my first experience with opera when I watched it on PBS. The "croce e delizio" that is audible throughout the entire score touched my heart in a way I'd never experienced. My dream role is Violetta Valery as I want to experience that music on the stage."

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Soprano Kinneret Ely
Hometown: New York, NY
Age: 29 "What I love most about opera is how the art form challenges a singer to be both as powerful yet as vulnerable as possible. It's an art form in which the singer has no technology helping you (even microphones!) to hide behind. This is especially true with a role like Violetta in La Traviata, which I debuted last summer; it requires everything in your dramatic and vocal palatte. When I'm not singing, I fundraise for arts organizations and also tour guide (in English, Hebrew, Italian, French, and German(!) I'd like to think guiding in these languages will keep me sharp!)"

#MeettheJudges Districts 2018


Equally at home in the pit conducting a repertoire of over 50 operas and musicals, on the stage accompanying some of the world's pre-eminent vocalists or appearing in the country’s top cabaret venues, TED TAYLOR enjoys a varied international career. As pianist he has appeared in many recitals with stars Kathleen Battle, Sylvia McNair, Ben Heppner and Christine Schäfer.

Mr, Taylor’s most recent cd release, Sylvia McNair’s SUBJECT TO CHANGE, received a 4 star rating in Downbeat Magazine.

Maestro Taylor has served on the conducting staffs of the Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago and has conducted performances for New York City Opera, Atlanta Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Central City Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Indianapolis Opera and Mobile (AL) Opera, where he was Music Director for eight seasons. Formerly Music Director for the New York City Opera National Company, in his earliest years he was coach for Santa Fe Opera and Opera Theater of Saint Louis, among others.

Mo. Taylor has also conducted performances for such prestigious music schools as Indiana University, where he completed his graduate studies in conducting, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and Moores School of Music at the University of Houston.

For four years, Mr. Taylor coached and played the Met National Council Finals in New York City, so he brings a wealth of first-hand experience to his duties as adjudicator. He currently serves as music director for San Miguel Institute of Bel Canto, going into its 5th season in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Mr. Taylor’s most recent cd release, Sylvia McNair’s SUBJECT TO CHANGE, received a 4 star rating in Downbeat Magazine. A native of Beaumont, Texas, he is currently in his fourteenth year on the faculty of Yale University and his twenty-first at Mannes College THE NEW SCHOOL For Music in New York. Mr. Taylor maintains an active studio as teacher and coach in Manhattan, where he sees singers and pianists from around the world.


Paul Hopper serves as Associate Artistic Administrator at The Metropolitan Opera where he oversees the casting of covers and supporting roles for roughly twenty-five productions per season. Previously, he was the Assistant Artistic Director at Houston Grand Opera where he assisted in long term artistic planning and casting, managed special artistic initiatives, and guided a variety of audiences in learning more about opera, including numerous events in support of the company’s first Ring Cycle. As principal dramaturg for the company he worked closely with composers and librettists in the commissioning and development of new works and oversaw the supertitles for all productions. Passionate about redefining the perception of what opera is capable of achieving, Paul forged new working relationships with Houston Methodist Hospital, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Rothko Chapel, and the Women’s Home. He has been a guest speaker at the OPERA America Conference, University of Houston, Houston Seminar, Czech Center Houston, and the Houston-Leipzig Sister City Association. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the University of Houston, he previously held positions at the Santa Fe Opera and ADA Artist Management.


Scott Guzielek is Director of Artistic Operations at the Palm Beach Opera where he is responsible for all aspects of artistic planning including the oversight and direction of the Young Artist Program. For seven seasons he was Artistic Administrator of Washington National Opera working directly with General Director Plácido Domingo. He was selected by Opera America to be part of the Leadership Intensive 2012. He has frequently judged the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, along with the Stella Maris Competition, Opera Birmingham Opera Competition, Cooper-Bing Vocal Competition, Giargiari Competition at AVA, and as a judge for the National PTA Reflections Competition. He has presented masterclasses at The Plaza Theater, Dreyfoos School of the Arts, and the Miami Summer Music Festival. He recently joined the faculty of the newly formed Potomac Vocal Institute in Washington, D.C. Originally from Johnstown, New York, he received a B.A. with honors in Vocal Performance from the State University of New York College at Geneseo in 2001 and a M.A. with distinction in Arts Management from American University in 2004. He was a baritone soloist at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church and was a singer, soloist, and board president of the Thomas Circle Singers in Washington, D.C.

2018 Launch Event

Cellist Julia Bruskin


Since her concerto debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at age 17, cellist Julia Bruskin has established herself as one of the premiere cellists of her generation. She performed Samuel Barber’s Cello Concerto with conductor Jahja Ling at Avery Fisher Hall and has also been soloist with the Nashville Symphony, Utah Symphony, Virginia Symphony, and Pacific Symphony among others. Her recent CD of music by Beethoven, Brahms, and Dohnanyi was praised by Fanfare Magazine for its “exquisite beauty of sound and expression”.

A founding member of the critically acclaimed Claremont Trio, Ms. Bruskin won 1st prize in the 2001 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and was awarded the first ever Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson International Trio Award. The trio tours extensively, including recent concerts at the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Museum and Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Bridge Records released the Claremont Trio’s recording of the Beethoven “Triple” Concerto with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and Beethoven’s Trio Op. 1 No. 1 to rave reviews.

Ms. Bruskin plays frequent solo recitals with her husband, Aaron Wunsch, and together they are joint artistic directors of the Skaneateles Festival in the Finger Lakes region of New York. A frequent guest at summer music festivals, Ms. Bruskin has performed at Chamber Music Northwest, La Jolla Summerfest, Mostly Mozart, Caramoor, Saratoga, Bard, and Norfolk, and toured with the Musicians from Ravinia. Ms. Bruskin has taught at the Juilliard Pre-College and Queens College, and given master classes at the Eastman School of Music, the Peabody Conservatory, the Boston Conservatory, and Duke University.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Ms. Bruskin's teachers have included Timothy Eddy, Joel Krosnick, Andres Diaz, Norman Fischer, and Nancy Hair. She completed the five-year double degree program at Juilliard and Columbia University. Since 2014, Ms. Bruskin has been a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Soprano Mary Claire Curran


Mary Claire Curran is a lyric soprano known for her charismatic stage presence and sparkling high notes. Praised as a “voluminous soprano” (South Florida Classical Review), Mary Claire is the winner of the 2017 Rohatyn Great Promise Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Eastern Region. In the fall of 2017, she covered the roles Madeline Usher, Young Madeline, and Virginia Otis in the double bill of Gordon Getty’s Usher House and The Canterville Ghost with the Center for Contemporary Opera in conjunction with LA Opera. In addition, she was a 2017 grant recipient of the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust. In the spring of 2018, she premiered scenes from the new opera The Warrior’s Wivesby composer Matthew Evan Taylor in New York City.

Mezzo-Soprano Samantha Hankey


Praised as “luscious,” “amber-toned,” and “dazzling” by Opera News, American mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey is quickly establishing a name for herself both at home and abroad. In the 2018/19 season, Samantha will make her Metropolitan Opera debut as Pantalis Mefistofele, and returns to the Met throughout the year in Adriana Lecouvreur, Carmen, Das Rheingold, Götterdämmerung, and Rigoletto. She will also make her company debut at Opernhaus Zürich as Cherubino Le nozze di Figaro. In addition to these debuts, Samantha will cover the title roles in Agrippina at the Bayerische Staatsoper and the premiere of Nico Muhly’s Marnie at the Metropolitan Opera.

Highlights of Samantha’s 2017/18 season included important role debuts as both Rosina Il barbiere di Siviglia at Den Norske Opera and Siébel Faust at Grand Théâtre de Genève. As a member of San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera Program, Samantha sang the role of Angelina La Cenerentola to enthusiastic critical acclaim, with the SF Gate praising her performance as “dark-hued, confident...formidable.” Equally at home in classic repertoire and contemporary music, Samantha took part in two significant workshops last season: Ricky Ian Gordon’s Intimate Apparel, in association with the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theatre, and David Hertzberg’s The Wake World, commissioned for Opera Philadelphia. Samantha enjoys a close collaboration with composer David Hertzberg and was instrumental in developing the title role of his opera The Rose Elf, which was written for her, and which she will premiere in New York this season.

Samantha’s growing career includes awards in a vast number of national and international competitions. In 2018, she won both First Prize and the Media Prize at the Inaugural Glyndebourne Cup. The Arts Desk wrote of her victory: “Polished, golden of tone, and convincing.... She has a natural charisma, centering on the voice itself...allowing her unfailing musicality to shine through.” In 2018, Samantha also received a Career Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, following an earlier 2016 award of a Sara Tucker Study Grant and both 2nd Prize and the Birgit Nilsson Prize at Operalia. In 2017, she was named a Grand Finals Winner by the Metropolitan Opera National Council, took First Prize in the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, and received a Leonore Annenberg Arts Fellowship in that foundation’s final year.

In addition to her stage performances, Samantha is an accomplished recital and concert artist. In 2017, she made her Carnegie Hall debut in Handel’s Messiah with Musica Sacra and performed Rossini’s Stabat Mater in North Carolina. Prior to that, Samantha was heard at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in “Juilliard Songfest: Songs of Richard Strauss,” curated by Brian Zeger, as well as a program of Liszt, Schumann, and Strauss songs that she presented as winner of the Vocal Arts Honors Recital. Her voice has also been heard on the radio, including broadcasts from PlayRTS, BR-Klassik, WQXR, and NPR. In 2012, Samantha was featured in HBO’s documentary A YoungArts Master Class with renowned soprano Renée Fleming.

Samantha is a graduate of the Juilliard School, where she received both her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. While there, Samantha performed in no fewer than six productions. Her highlighted roles included Diana in La Calisto, Varvara in Katya Kabanova, and the title role in Agrippina, of which Musical America wrote, "Samantha Hankey sang Agrippina in a lustrous, commanding mezzo soprano." Samantha’s academic and vocal accomplishments at Juilliard were recognized with several distinctions, including the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music and the Juilliard Kovner Fellowship. During her training, Samantha also participated in several summer programs, such as The Internationale Meistersinger Akademie, Houston Grand Opera’s Young Artist Vocal Academy, and The Aspen Music Festival. Samantha is a native of Marshfield, Massachusetts and attended the Walnut Hill School for the Arts high school in Natick.

Pianist Doug Martin

Mr. Martin conducts Fledermaus this Holiday season for Amore Opera. Last season Maestro Martin conducted a gala at Amore which featured Met singers Francisco Casanova and Aprile Millo.

Mr. Martin has treasured an association of almost 20 years with the astounding Eve Queler who will celebrate her 50th year with Opera Orchestra of New York this coming season.

Mr. Martin is one of the not many people who can say they've conducted 100 performances of Puccini’s La Boheme. Doug was one of two conductors of Baz Luhrmann’s La Boheme on Broadway. The opera was sung without cuts in Italian with 28 piece orchestras in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.

Mr. Martin has a Performer’s Certificate in piano from SUNY Fredonia, and a Masters of Music degree in piano performance from University of Indiana Bloomington - where he worked extensively with Virginia Zeani, and John Wustman.

As an Associate Instructor at IU - he coached productions including Wozzeck, and Love for Three Oranges; while attending classes alongside Gayletha Nichols!

Soprano Emily Misch


A coloratura soprano praised for her "scintillating precision" (Opera News), Emily Misch is establishing herself as a clear-voiced, versatile, and intelligent performer. Her 2017-2018 season included the Grand Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Olympia in Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Opera North), Valeria in the workshop of Tom Cipullo's Mayo (National Opera Center), and the soprano solos in Mozart's Requiem, Haydn's Paukenmesse (Huntington Choral Society), and Carmina Burana (Altoona Symphony Orchestra). She has been awarded prizes from the Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges, the Gerda Lissner Foundation, Mannes College, and Yale University, and has participated in young artist training programs at Wolf Trap Opera Company, Opera North (NH), and Opera on the Avalon.

Tenor Brian Michael Moore


Tenor Brian Michael Moore will make his Met debut singing the role of the Song Seller in Il Tabarro. He completed the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program at LA Opera, where he was seen as Le Remendado in Carmen, The Governor in Candide, Spoletta in Tosca, and Nathanaël in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. During the summer of 2017, he performed the role of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with James Conlon at the Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi and The Prince in Luke Bedford's Seven Angels at the Aspen Music Festival. He made his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut in 2017 singing the First Armored Man in Die Zauberflöte conducted by Maestro Gustavo Dudamel.

Other recent appearances include the Shepherd in Oedipus Rex at the Cincinnati May Festival, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with the New York Opera Exchange, several roles in Conrad Susa’s Transformations as part of the Merola Opera Program, and the Animal Tamer in Der Rosenkavalier as a young artist at the Cincinnati Opera. In 2015, he performed the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto at the Asheville Lyric Opera and the Brevard Music Festival.

Mr. Moore is a winner of the 2018 Sara Tucker Study Grant, and was recognized as Una Finestra Sui Due Mondi from the 2017 Spoleto Festival Dei Due Mondi. This summer, he returned to the Merola Opera Program to participate in the Schwabacher Summer Concerts.

He completed his bachelor and master degrees at the Manhattan School of Music.

Soprano Marjorie Owens


A former member of the Sächsische Staatsoper in Dresden and a Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, soprano Marjorie Owens is receiving a great deal of acclaim as one of the most exciting young dramatic sopranos to have recently come to the public’s attention.

This season, Marjorie Owens returns to the Metropolitan Opera’s roster for a variety of roles and makes her debut with the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Fabio Luisi in her signature-role of Senta in Der fliegende Holländer. She will also be heard with Utah Opera as the title-role in Norma. Finally, Ms. Owens will appear in recital with her alma mater, Baylor University. Future projects include debuts with the Canadian Opera Company and Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Last season, Ms. Owens made her Hong Kong debut in the title role of Aida with Opera Hong Kong, returned to the Semperoper as Senta in Der fliegende Holländer and to the roster of the Metropolitan Opera. She was heard in recital with the George London Foundation with baritone Quinn Kelsey.

In the 2016-2017 season, Marjorie Owens returned to the Semperoper Dresden as Dorotka in Schwanda, to the Washington Concert Opera for the title-role in Beethoven’s Leonore, and to the roster of the Metropolitan Opera. In concert, she was heard as Senta in Der fliegende Holländer with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and David Robertson. Future projects include debuts with the Canadian Opera Company and Opera Hong Kong and returns to the Metropolitan Opera and the Semperoper Dresden.

Ms. Owens’s 2015-2016 season included her role and company debut in the title-role of Norma at the English National Opera, her company debut with Opera Theatre of St Louis in the title-role of Ariadne on Naxos, her return to the Semperoper as Senta in Der fliegende Holländer, a production she premiered in that theater, and a return to the Metropolitan Opera’s roster.

Ms. Owens has won many awards and competitions; including being a Grand Finals winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Top Prize in the 2010 Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition, the 2009 Leonie Rysanek award from the George London Foundation, Second Place in the 2009 Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, a William Matheus Sullivan Grant, First Place in the Ft. Worth Marguerite McCammon Competition, First Place and the Audience Choice award in the Dallas Opera Guild Career Development Grant for Singers Competition, and Second Place in the McCollum Competition. Ms. Owens attended the Aspen Opera Theater Center in the summer of 2003, where she sang scenes from Tosca with David Zinman, and again in 2004 where she performed Ms. Jessel in The Turn of the Screw with Richard Bado. She also performed Viktor Ullmann’s Sechs Lieder with James Conlon and the Aspen Chamber Orchestra and then again with the Maestro and the Cincinnati Linton Chamber Orchestra. In the summer of 2005 at Wolf Trap, Ms. Owens sang Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Ari Pelto. In past summers, she sang Fiordiligi in a concert version of Cosi fan tutte with the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists and Mimi in La Bohème with the Northwest Indiana Symphony.

Tenor Kevin Ray


Kevin Ray is praised by Opera News for his “commendable style” and abilities with “subtle coloristic nuance.” This season, he joins the roster of the Metroplitan Opera for their productions of AidaLa fanciulla del West, and Das Rheingold. Last season, he sang his first performances of King Charles VII in Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orleans with Odyssey Opera. Other recent performances include his role and company debuts as the Prince in Rusalka with Arizona Opera, Erik in Der fliegende Holländer with Estonian National Opera, and Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos with Berkshire Opera Festival. He also recently made his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut singing Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy under the baton of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, joined the Phoenix Symphony for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, the Florida Orchestra for Rachmaninov’s The Bells, the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra for Verdi’s Requiem, and was a resident artist at the Ravinia Festival Steans Music Institute.

The tenor recently returned to Houston Grand Opera to sing performances of the company’s new commission of Iain Bell’s one-man opera, A Christmas Carol in addition to returning to the company for Roderigo in Otello, Beadle Bamford in Sweeney Todd, and both the First Armed Man and Second Priest in Die Zauberflöte. He is an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and his previous roles with the company include Eisenstein inDie Fledermaus, the Third SS Officer in Weinberg’s The Passenger, Melot in Tristan und Isolde, and the Messenger in Aida, in addition to being responsible for responsible for both Froh and Loge in Das Rheingold as well as Don José in Carmen. He also sang the Defendant in a special performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury presented by the company at the Harris County Courthouse and scenes of Heggie’s Moby Dickand Carmen in concert.

Mr. Ray’s other recent engagements include his first performances of the title role of Peter Grimes with Chautauqua Opera; Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos presented by his alma mater, the Curtis Institute of Music, in association with Opera Philadelphia and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts; as well as Don José in Carmen with Wolf Trap Oprea and the Lyrique-en-Mer/Festival de Belle-Île. While a Santa Fe Apprentice Artist, he created the role of the Second Clubman in the world premiere of Moravec’s The Letter. Also with the company, sang the role of the Poet in Menotti’s The Last Savage, covered the Drum Major in Wozzeck, and performed scenes of the title role of Idomeneo. On the concert stage, Mr. Ray has joined the Philadelphia Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and the Sunriver Music Festival for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. He has also sung Verdi’s Requiem with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra and has appeared in numerous concerts with the Opera Orchestra of New York.

He is a 2016 second prize winner in the Wagner division of the Gerda Lisnner Foundation’s International Vocal Competition and a 2015 winner of the William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation Award. The tenor was one of eight finalists in Seattle Opera’s 2014 International Wagner Competition. He is a 2012 Grand Finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions as well as a three-time district winner of the competition in previous years. He has also received second prize from the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition and third prize in the Wagner division of the Liederkranz Comeptition. Additionally, he is a two-time recipient of study grants from the Wagner Society of New York.

The Cornwall, New York native earned his Master of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music, at which his roles included Don José in La tragédie de Carmen, the Schoolmaster in Cunning Little Vixen, and Toni Reichsmann in The Elegy for Young Lovers. He is also a former participant in the Merola Opera Program of San Francisco Opera, where he sang scenes of Jenik in The Bartered Bride. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and completed further studies at the Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro and the Mozarteum Sommerakademie in Salzburg.

Soprano Tamara Wilson


With a voice that is a “veritable force of nature” (Chicago Tribune), American soprano Tamara Wilson is quickly gaining international recognition for her interpretations of Verdi, Mozart, Strauss and Wagner. She is the 2016 recipient of the prestigious Richard Tucker Award from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and Olivier Award nominee.

In the 2018-2019 season, Tamara Wilson will return to the Metropolitan Opera to sing the title role in Aida conducted by Nicola Luisotti and makes her mainstage debut at Teatro alla Scala in a new production as the Prima Donna/Ariadne inAriadne auf Naxos conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, a role she will first sing with him conducting the Cleveland Orchestra as well. Ms. Wilson makes her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut as Leonora in Il trovatore, returns to the Canadian Opera Company as Verdi’s Desdemona in Otello, and returns to the Zurich Opera to sing Chrysothemis in Elektra. Her concert performances will hear her in Bruckner’s Te Deum with the La Scala Orchestra conducted by Christoph von Dohnányi, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Welser-Möst, and her debut in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. In the summer of 2019, she will sing the title role of Aida in the famous Franco Zeffirelli production at Arena di Verona.

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District Auditions 17/18 Information

Judges' Bios

Melissa Wegner joined the artistic staff of the Metropolitan Opera in 2011 and currently serves as Deputy Director of the National Council Auditions and Artistic Administration Associate. She auditions hundreds of young singers annually and is passionate about assisting them with their career development. Additionally, Ms. Wegner hears artists in stage and screening auditions at the Met and facilitates the casting of covers and comprimarioroles. A frequent judge for the District and Region auditions of the Met’s National Council Auditions, Ms. Wegner has also adjudicated the SAI Vocal Competition, the McCammon Voice Competition, and the Belvedere Competition in South Africa and Russia.  As a soprano, Ms. Wegner has performed opera, concerts and recitals in the United States and Europe. She joined New York City Opera as a Supertitles Associate and continues this work on a freelance basis with organizations including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, BAM, and Opera Orchestra of New York. Ms. Wegner is a member of Families of FANA WNY, which fundraises to support the orphanage in Colombia from which she was adopted. She is a Trustee of the Foundation Board of SUNY Potsdam, and founding member of the Alumni Board of Bard Conservatory’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program.  Ms. Wegner holds degrees from Bard College, The Manhattan School of Music, and The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.

Longtime Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, Dennis Giauque is a pianist and vocal coach based in New York City.  He was the pianist and head of musical preparation for the award-winning recording of Ariadne auf Naxos, recorded with James Levine and the Vienna Philharmonic.  He has assisted Maestro Levine at summer festivals in Salzburg and Ravinia, as well as with the Boston Symphony.  In addition to assisting Maestro Seiji Ozawa on Der Fledermaus and Carmen for the Seiji Ozawa Music Academy, he has recently been musical assistant and consultant for the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Der Rosenkavalier and Das Rheingold, Caramoor Summer Music Festival’s Fidelio, and the International Festival of Milano’s Akhnaten, by Philip Glass.  He is also an instructor at the Atkins Young Artist Program of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Chamber music is also an important part of Dennis’ musical career. He has collaborated as pianist on the recital stage with such singers as Luciano Pavarotti, Dawn Upshaw, Hei Kyung Hong, James Morris, and many others, as well as regularly performing in chamber music concerts with some of the finest chamber music players of today.  Before coming to New York, he was a coach on the music staffs of opera houses in Nürnberg and Stuttgart, Germany; and assistant chorus master for the San Francisco Opera.

Ken Benson is one of the leading managers for opera singers, including 25 years as Vice- President of Columbia Artists Management, Inc.,where his artists included Thomas Hampson, Aprile Millo,, Jerry Hadley, Florence Quivar, Susanne Mentzer, Marcello Giordani and Jamie Barton. He is Vocal consultant at Juilliard School of Music, and he regularly gives classes and consultations at Yale, UCLA, Mannes, Manhattan School of Music, Boston Conservatory, DePaul, Roosevelt and Indiana Universities. He also offers private consultations. Mr. Benson is invited to serve as adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council's auditions, as well as to judge in most of the major vocal competitions throughout the US. Frequently, he lectures on operatic subjects, includes a series of talks on Wagner's "Ring" at the Metropolitan Opera House. He is also heard as frequent Host and panelist on the Metropolitan Opera broadcast's Opera quiz. As a writer, he regularly contributes to such publications as Opera News and Classical Singer magazine. He has recently returned to Artists Management, representing a select group of the most talented singers from the emerging generation.