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New York's famed Metropolitan Opera has been aware for some time that Mexican has a cornucopia of talented opera singers, but up to now most Mexican singers have been ineligible to participate in the Met’s extensive network of auditions held annually across the USA and Canada. For the first time the Met has reached out to the opera community in Mexico and has invited this country to become part of its audition structure. Pro Musica is delighted to announce that it has been chosen to exclusively partner with the Met's National Council to stage the Mexican-wide auditions for singers. Any Mexican singer between the ages of 20-30 can apply to be auditioned and the winners of the San Miguel auditions will go through to regional finals in New Orleans, with the possibility of progressing to the semi-finals and the finals in New York. There is substantial prize money for the winners at every stage.
In November, 2018 we staged the auditions for the whole of Mexico in San Miguel. 34 Singers from all over the country, including some Mexicans who live in the US, were auditioned by a panel of three distinguished Judges nominated by the Met in the auditorium at the Bellas Artes. Maestro Mario Alberto Hernandez accompanied all the singers with his usual dedication and consummate musicianship.
Every participant spent time with each of the Judges for invaluable feedback sessions after the auditions, which also helps those other than winners, because they learn what they can do better and areas where their voice or presentational skills can be improved to enhance their careers.
We had expected the Judges to chooses two or three winners to go forward to the Regional Finals in New Orleans in January, 2019 and to make two or three Encouragement Awards to singers whom, although they would not progress further in the competition, were worthy of recognition because of their outstanding singing. However, because of the high standard of the singing, the Judges chose FIVE winners and to make FIVE Encouragement Awards.
The Winners each received US$1,500 prize money and those receiving Achievement Awards US$400 each. Because the total prize money fund was fixed in advance, there was a shortfall, which would have meant each winner receiving less than we had allocated. When this became known an anonymous Pro Musica Patron Member stepped in and donated US$1,500 to top up the Winners Prize pot. We were still short on the Achievement Awards prize pot and in an unprecedented move, which has never happened in any Met Opera audition anywhere, the Judges themselves personally donated US$1,000 to make up the shortfall.
The winners were Efraín Corralejo, tenor, Juan Carlos Heredia, baritone, Yunuet Laguna, soprano, Gamaliel Reynoso, counter tenor and Denis Vélez, soprano. They all sang at the Winners concert at St. Paul's church in San Miguel following the auditions, and there were wildly enthusiastic and continuous standing ovations from a sold out house. The Achievement Award recipients were Alejandro del Ángel, tenor, Vanessa Jara, Damaris Lezama, soprano, Ana Paula Malagón, soprano and Sofía Sánchez, soprano, who also all sang at the Winners Concert.
We were honored at the Winners Concert by the presence of Tobin Bradley, Deputy Chief of Mission (ie No.2 to the Ambassador) of the American Embassy in Mexico City. He spoke movingly of the historic nature of the occasion bringing together the cultural excellence of two great nations, and presented Official Citations to all ten singers on behalf of the United States Government reciting that they are the first singers in Mexico to represent their nation in the 65 year history of the Met auditions.
All ten singers were paid a professional fee by Pro Musica for singing at this concert At the Regional Finals in New Orleans our winners received no less than four out of the seven prizes that were awarded and nearly all of them have gone on to be placed in prestigious Young Artists programs at leading opera houses in the US. In particular, Yunuet Laguna is joining the Metropolitan Opera's own program in New York.
Melissa Wegner, Associate Director of the Met at Lincoln Center says "We look forward to collaborating with Pro Musica to identify and develop the next generation of opera singers ...We are proud to include Mexico in the National Council Auditions, and in doing so, our program now reflects the artists and training in all of North America."
The next auditions will be in San Miguel in November, 2019 and we already have a full roster of 45 applicants. There will be a Winners Concert at St. Paul's church on Sunday 10 November.
Michael Pearl, Co-Director, Metropolitan National Committee, Mexico District
MONC MX DISTRICT: Case for support
We know for a fact that just one talented and motivated young Mexican, given the necessary resources and opportunities, can not only experience personal fulfillment and success, but can also lift an entire family out of poverty. In the case of a talented and motivated Mexican singer, these resources and opportunities are very hard to come by.
The Metropolitan Opera has been aware for some time that these talented Mexican singers exist in abundance, but up to now most Mexican singers have been unable to participate in the Met’s wide network of auditions held annually across the US and Canada. Now, for the first time, the Met has reached out to the opera community in Mexico and has invited this country to become part of its audition structure. The auditions will be held exclusively in San Miguel next year, with singers from anywhere in Mexico able to participate. Pro Musica has been chosen by the Met to partner with them exclusively to organize and stage the auditions.
Although the US, Canadian, and now Mexican auditions are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera, the Met provides no financial support for them. The Metropolitan Opera National Council (MONC) Mexico District, as we are called, anticipates expenditures of $25,000USD to make its first round of auditions in November, 2018 a reality. We will be required to fly three judges here from the USA, to provide appropriate hotel accommodations, to provide interpreters and a pianist, to fund a venue, and to raise funds for prize awards to as many singers as the judges deem worthy of progressing to the next step,-- which will be regional auditions in New Orleans.
Holding Metropolitan Opera auditions here will open important new doors for our very best singers. Of the 300 singers currently employed by the Met, no less than 100 joined them as a result of these auditions. Renee Fleming, a 1988 National Council Auditions winner, credits the auditions as the launching pad for her career. At a time when arts budgets in Mexico have declined by as much as 65% in some arenas, the San Miguel community has been devoting more and more resources to opera; to opera competition, opera education and opera performance. The arrival of the Met can only enhance San Miguel’s reputation as a center for opera excellence in this country.
Sponsors of and donors to the MONC Mexico District auditions will benefit not only from investing in a life-changing experience for struggling young Mexican singers, but will also receive a generous package of benefits, scaled according to the amount contributed. These include program acknowledgement, complimentary admission to the auditions and the Winners’ Concert two days later, invitations to dinner with the judges and the dinner following the Winners’ Concert, and substantial discounts on program advertising. The auditions will be open only to our Founding Sponsors at a designated level. There are also a number of specific underwriting opportunities available, -- such as defraying venue costs, sponsoring the pianist, and contributing prize awards – for which you would be recognized, and which we will be pleased to review with you personally.
We all know Mexican families who would be in a far better place today, had they had the opportunities that you and I have been blessed with. With your help we have the potential to change lives. Please join us!
MONC MX DONOR BENEFITS
US$100 - US$249
US$250 - US$499
Program listing. Invitation for one person to the Launch Party. Two top price tickets to the Winners concert. 20% discount for advertising in the Auditions program
US$500 - US$999
All above AND Invitation for two people to the Launch Party. All day pass to the auditions.
30% discount on program advertising
US$1,000 - US$2,499
All the above AND reserved seats at the Winners Concert. Invitation for 2 people to the Judges dinner. 40% discount on program advertising
US$2,500 - US$4,999
All the above AND four top price tickets and reserved cushioned seats for the Winners Concert. Invitation for four people to the Launch Party 50% discount on program advertising
US$5,000 AND UP
All the above AND invitation for four people to the Judges dinner and invitation for four people to the celebration dinner after the Winners' Concert.
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