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On November 8th we staged the Metropolitan Opera auditions for the whole of Mexico. 34 Singers from all over the country, including several 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, during a day when we listened to 68 arias. Maestro Mario Alberto Hernandez accompanied every singer throughout this long day with his usual dedication, and consummate musicianship.
An amazing army of 27 volunteers under co-Director of the Met Auditions Mexico, Joan Mitchell, did an incredible job of running a seamlessly efficient operation. Emotions ran high as singers competed for fame and fortune and at the end there was joyous celebration by the successful ones. Every single participant spent time with all three Judges for invaluable feedback sessions after the auditions, which also helps those who were not winners, because they learn what they can do better and areas where their voice or presentational skills can be improved to enhance their careers..
The standard of the singing was extraordinarily, and consistently, high. The Judges had a difficult time making their decisions. We had expected them to chooses two or three winners to go forward to the Regional Finals in New Orleans in January, 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 incredible range of talent we heard, the Judges made a highly unusual decision to choose 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 five winners are Efraín Corralejo, tenor, Juan Carlos Heredia, baritone, Yunuet Laguna, soprano, Gamaliel Reynoso, counter tenor and Denis Vélez, soprano. They all sang two arias at the Winners concert and there were wildly enthusiastic and continuous standing ovations from an overflowing, sold out house. The Achievement Award recipients are Alejandro del Ángel, tenor, Vanessa Jara, Damaris Lezama, soprano, Ana Paula Malagón, soprano and Sofía Sánchez, soprano. They each sang a single aria at the Winners Concert.
We were honoured at the Winners Concert by the presence of Tobin Bradley, Deputy Chief of Mission (ie No.2 two 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. I know you will all join with me in wishing every future success to each of these amazingly talented singers, and in particular that you will be rooting for every one of the prize winners who go to New Orleans for the Regional Finals on January 27, 2019 with the prospect of getting through to the Semi-Finals at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in March.
Michael Pearl, President, Pro Musica
Co-Director, Metropolitan National Committee, Mexico District
New York's famed Metropolitan Opera has been aware for some time that talented Mexican opera singers exist in abundance, 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 as part of their 2018/19 auditions. 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.
This major initiative is of international importance; for the Met, because it opens the door to a whole new source of talented young singers from a music loving nation of 120 million people on its borders; and for opera singers in Mexico, because they will have direct access to a new career avenue with the possibility of reaching the highest levels of the profession: the ultimate prize of the auditions being to sing at the Met. This is a real possibility because, out of the Met's roster of 300 singers, a third have been chosen through these auditions.
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 auditions will be held in San Miguel in the second week of November, 2018 when a panel of three Judges, all opera professionals certified by the Met, will hear up to 40 singers. They will be accompanied by the incomparable Mario Alberto Hernandez who has played for thousands of singers in auditions throughout Mexico. An important part of the process is that all participating singers, not just the winners, will have the opportunity to spend time with the Judges after the auditions for a critique of their performances, thus essentially turning the day into a valuable Master Class.
There will be a full length Pro Musica Winners' Concert within a few days of the auditions, when San Miguel audiences will have the chance to hear for themselves the rising stars of Mexican opera, knowing that they will be going on to the Met's Regional Finals ... and hopefully further! The chosen singers will benefit from awards and fees totalling some $200,000 pesos from the auditions and the Winners' Concert in San Miguel.
Staging the Met opera auditions is an expensive business, not only because of the necessary strict adherence to the Met's world class standards, but also because the Met does not meet any of the costs involved, so we have to raise all the necessary funding, including for the prize money and bringing the Judges from the US and accommodating them. Our Met Auditions executive committee has taken responsibility for the fund raising campaign, which will be headed by Joan Mitchell, its chair. Joan brings extensive experience in fund raising for universities and arts organizations to this project, as well as a background in the overall management of arts and other not-for- profit organizations.
Fortunately we already have pledges for a good proportion of the overall costs. However, we need to raise many thousands of dollars more and this is a wonderful opportunity for opera lovers in San Miguel to contribute to an annual event that will bring tremendous prestige to San Miguel and give a terrific boost to young Mexican singers. A range of attractive benefits are available to all donors, scaled according to the amount contributed. These include program acknowledgement, complimentary admission to the auditions, invitations to dinner with the judges, tickets for the Winners' concert and the dinner afterwards, and discounts on program advertising. Sponsorship can be by way of either a general gift or to underwrite specific aspects of the auditions, such as defraying venue costs or judges’ travel, sponsoring the pianist and contributing prize awards.
There will be a spectacular Launch Event for the Mexico Auditions in mid February, 2018, including a champagne reception, food, music and opera singing, with a top official from the Met at Lincoln Center joining us, to which all our Founding Sponsors will be invited.
For more information, contact Joan Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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