Explaining MONC

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, also known as MONC, is a competition for aspiring opera singers between 20 and 30 years of age, who are vying for the ultimate prize: the opportunity to sing on the MetOpera stage with the MetOrchestra. Winners also receive cash awards to further their careers, as well as national recognition. MONC is divided into Districts that feed into larger Regions, and although under the Metropolitan Opera umbrella of organizations, each district and region is responsible for its own fundraising to finance its auditions, and does not receive direct support from the Metropolitan Opera.

In short, the District and Regional Committees host the auditions by screening applicants, sourcing venues, selecting judges, awarding cash prizes and raising the funds to support its activities. All members of the MONC committees are uncompensated volunteers. The job of the committees is to find convenient, affordable, but acoustically appropriate spaces to house the auditions, identify and invite judges, hire an accompanist, process and schedule the singers, coordinate with the Metropolitan Opera for consistency, and to raise funds to support all of its activities.

The district auditions are the first round of the competition, where all applicants perform one or two arias for a panel of three judges. The judges are professionals; conductors, opera singers or opera house professionals. The Eastern District auditions average 90 singers in a competition that spans 2 days. The winners from the District level (on average 12) advance to the Region Finals, where singers once again perform one or two arias in front of a panel of three judges (one of them coming from the Met). If the judges recognize a special talent in a singer who still needs a little nurturing before moving on, at both levels of the competition, they can also hand out Encouragement Awards. 

Summary of the MONC Auditions
1. District Auditions (1st Round):
Run by your District or Regional Committee
No financial support from the Metropolitan Opera
Separate fundraising conducted through ticket sales or benefits
Selected singers advance to the Region Finals
Cash prizes to all singers who advance and additional Encouragement awards

2. Region Finals (2nd Round):
Run by your District or Regional Committee held in respective region (NY is the only place where there is 1 District which then becomes 1 Region, in other areas the Region Finals are comprised of several Districts coming together.)
No financial support from the Metropolitan Opera
Separate fundraising conducted through ticket sales or benefits
Cash prizes for First and Second place winners and Encouragement Awards
First Place Winner(s) advance to the Metropolitan Opera Semi-Finals

3. Semi-Finals, held at the Metropolitan Opera (3rd Round):
Singers from all the various districts and regions meet to compete
Singers perform on the Met Stage accompanied by a pianist
Closed to the public
Singers spend 4 days at the Met rehearsing and preparing
Selected winners advance to the Grand Finals Concert

4. Grand Finals Concert, held at the Metropolitan Opera (4th and Final Round):
Singers spend a week of training with in-house voice, theatrical and professional coaches
Cash prizes to singers
Singers perform with the MetOrchestra in front of a sold-out house

MONC Facts

  • This is the 63rd season of auditions.
  • There are 42 Districts and 13 Regions.
  • There are Districts throughout the continental United States, in addition to one District in Canada and one District in Puerto Rico. Approximately 1,500 singers audition annually for the National Council Auditions.
  • Approximately 20 Region first place winners are brought to New York as Semi- Finalists. Approximately 8-10 Semi-Finalists are advanced to the Grand Finals Concert. Approximately 4-6 Finalists are selected as National Council Winners.
  • Semi-Finalists receive $2,500, Finalists receive $5,000 and Winners receive $15,000. 
  • Over 100 former MONC auditioners are on the Met’s roster annually.