Kentucky District








“For me, the auditions have shaped my career into what it is today. They began opening opera house doors from the very first round. If it weren’t for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, I most certainly would not have the kind of career that I have today.”
      Gregory Turay,  Tenor
















“I met a lot of wonderful friends and associates in the business through the National Council Auditions. We continue to stay in touch throughout the years, and enjoy getting together and catching up whenever possible.”

Denyce Graves, Mezzo-Soprano
















"When I stepped onto the Met stage for the 1988 Auditions I felt completely imtimidated by the huge space. Somehow I got through my two arias and during the two weeks between that first step and the final concert I repeatedly snuck into the auditorium and just stood there - either in the orchestra pit or on the side of the stage - and sang through my arias in my head.... That was a watershed year for me; everything before the auditions was 'what it was,' and after, it became 'what it was to be.' It helped me find my voice."

Ben Heppner, Tenor
















"I was living in the Juilliard dormitories across the street from the Met. After the competition, as I walked home, it suddenly hit me - right in the middle of 65th Street - I had just won the Met Auditions! My career had begun!"

Paul Groves, Tenor
















"You have to have a thick enough skin to take the harshness of this business and a thin enough skin to be a vulnerable, affecting artist. That was true for me the day I sang for the National Council Auditions, and it is still true today."

Patricia Racette, Soprano
















"After 42 years and about 1,500 performances at the Met, I think back to the time I was in the Met Auditions as an Eastern Regional Finalist. I didn't win, not even a nice Met T-shirt! But two years later they gave me a contract, and I am still at it."

Paul Plishka, Bass
















"The National Council competition was one of the highlights of my career. As a competitor I tried to keep everything in check: do my job, sing well, fully experience being on the Met stage and enjoy every minute of it; because I figured I may or may not be there ever again!"

Maria Zifchak, Mezzo-Soprano



Past Seasons

2015-2016 Season

Competition was held
1:00 PM November 7th, 2015
at the Singletary Center For The Arts
on the campus of the University of Kentucky
in Lexington, KY

Jennifer Larmore,
acclaimed mezzo-soprano

Marcus Küchle,
Director of Artistic Operations at Cincinnati Opera

Dan Novak,
Director of Chicago Lyric Opera's Ryan Opera Center

Official Accompanist:
Cliff Jackson

Tedrin Blair Lindsay
presented the program during the judges' deliberations.

Master Class
Ms. Larmore
taught a master class
at 2:00 pm on Sunday, November 8th at the Singletary Center

The winners were:

Shareese Arnold
Mary Catherine Wright
Ashley Dannewitz
Nicolette Book

Encouragement awards:
Gail Robinson Encouragement award: Thabang Masango
Encouragement award: Amanda Balltrip

2014-2015 Season Results

Report from Gayletha Nichols, Executive Director Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions

Dear Volunteers
We are thrilled so many of you were able to come to the MONC semi-finals and finals this season! What a terrific weekend with had with great opera, master classes, dinners together, meetings and of course, the Grand Finals Concert and reception. Attached (and at the bottom of this page) are just two of the many articles written about the concert. Perhaps there is something here you can use for your auditions publicity next season and for your websites now.

We had a very good Auditions Meeting Saturday and minutes will be distributed within the next couple weeks. Thanks again to everyone who returned the survey. We had approximately 85% participation in time to distribute information at the meeting. We'd still like to hear from everyone, it's not too late to facture in everyone's results before the end of the fiscal year.

I am already planning next season's calendar, including travel for both Melissa and myself. The sooner I have your district and region dates, the more helpful that is to me. Updates on the judges lists, Handbook and other forms in our FTP, will be made over the summer. We'll let you know when that's all ready to go with a new password. Please enjoy these two photos attached … YOUR 2015 Met National Council Finalists!

Best to all, Gayletha

Wall Street Journal Article (PDF)
New York Times Article (PDF)

Mid-South Region Auditions:

Date: Saturday, February 21, 2015

 Mid-South Region winner was Matthew Turner
Second place winner was Huanhuan Ma
The two encouragement award winners were
Christopher Kenney and Josh Quinn.
Marcus Küchle
Gayletha Nichols
David Roth
Official accompanist:Cliff Jackson

Kentucky District Competition Date:
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM

Place: Memorial Hall, University of KY, Lexington, KY

2014 Winners advancing to the Mid-South Region
Rebecca Farley, Matthew Turner, Christopher Kenny.

Encouragement Award Winners
Mary Catherine Wright, Shareese Arnold, Jonathan Parham.

Wolfgang Brendel
Carroll Freeman
Stanford Olsen

Official Accompanist:
Cliff Jackson

Master Class
Wolfgang Brendel taught the Master Class
on Sunday, Nov 23 at 2:00 pm

2012-2013 Season Results
Kentucky District

Whitney Myers, Soprano
Jose Rubio, Baritone
William Clay Thompson, Bass

The winners advanced to the Mid South Region Auditions in Memphis on February 8, 2014.

Encouragement Award
Elizabeth Maurey

Dominic Cossa
Johanna Meier
Carol Vaness

Official Accompanist:
Cliff Jackson

A Master Class was
conducted by Carol Vaness
2:00 PM Sunday, November 24, 2013

2012-2013 Season Results
Kentucky District
Lexington/Memorial Hall
November 17, 2012
Rebecca Farley
Thomas Gunther
Edward Nelson

The winners advanced to the Mid-South Regional Finals held in Memphis on January 26, 2013.

The judges awarded two encouragement awards:
Evan Leroy Johnson
Jacob Waid

Douglas Ahlsted

Joan Dornemann,
Gayletha Nichols

John Greer
official accompanist for the auditions and the master class

2012 District: Joan Dornemann

2011 - 2012 Season Results
Kentucky District

Lexington/ Memorial Hall
November 19, 2011

Thomas Gunther
Rachel Sterrenberg
Vincent Turregano

Encouragement Award:
Rebecca Farley
Reginald Smith
Xi Wang

Anthony Laciura
Johnna Meier
Sherrill Milnes

2010/2011 Season

Kentucky District
Lexington/ Memorial Hall
November 20, 2010

Holly Flack
Ursula Kuhar
Reginald Smith, Jr.
Andrea Trusty

Encouragement Award: Mary-Hollis Hundley

Danielle Orlando
William J. Powers
Samuel Ramey.

2009/2010 Season

Kentucky District
Lexington/ Memorial Hall
November 14, 2009

Eric Brown
Jeremy Parker
Paulette Penzvalto
Kenneth Stavert

Encouragement Award: Holly Flack

Richard Best
Carol Vaness
Douglas Ahlstadt

Tri-State Regional Finals
Indiana University
January 16, 2010
1:00 PM

1st Place and selected for Semi-Finals:
Laura Wilde, Mezzo

Grand Finals Concert
New York, Metropolitan Opera
March 14, 2010

The Winners of the 2010 Natrional Council Auditions were:
Leah Crocetto, soprano
Lori Guilbeau, soprano
Elliot Madore, baritone
Nathaniel Peake, tenor
Rachel Willis-Sørensen, soprano

2008/2009 Season

Kentucky District
Lexington/Memorial Hall
November 22, 2008
1:00 PM

The three winners, as selected by the judges,
soprano Amanda Balltrip, mezzo-soprano Andrea Trusty, and countertenor Christopher Conley.
Encouragement Award: Amita Prakash, soprano.

Catherine Malfitano
Paul Groves

Tri-State Regional Finals
University of Cincinnati/CCM Corbett Auditorium
January 18, 2009
1:00 PM

1st Place and selected for Semi-Finals:
Kiri Deonarine, Soprano (Indiana District)
2. Ljubomir Pushkaric, Baritone (Indiana District)
3. Andrea Trusty, Mezzo-Soprano, Kentucky District
Encouragement Award: Jason Coffey, Baritone (Southern Ohio District)

Grand Finals Concert
New York, Metropolitan Opera
February 22, 2009

The Winners of the 2009 National Council Auditions were:

Paul Appleby, Tenor, Eastern Region
Anthony Roth Costanzo, Countertenor, Eastern Region
Sung Eun Lee, Tenor, Eastern Region
Nadine Sierra, Soprano, New England Region

2007/2008 Season

Kentucky District
Lexington, Memorial Hall
November 17, 2007

From 15 singers in competition the judges chose the following four winners:

Afton Battle, soprano,
Hanna Smith, soprano,
Emily Lorini, mezzo soprano
Christopher Conley, countertenor.

An Encouragement Award was granted to soprano Amanda Balltrip. Mr. Conley was a 2006 District winner and for Ms. Balltrip the Encouragement Award was the second in a row.

Tri-State Regional Finals
Lexington, Memorial Hall
January 19, 2008

Official accompanist: Prof. Cliff Jackson

Judges: Carroll Freeman
Mignon Dunn
George Darden

Mignon Dunn, a mezzo soprano with 654 Met performances to her credit and a member of the Manhattan School of Music voice faculty, will conduct a public master class on Sunday, January 20th, 2:00 PM (Memorial Hall).

Two 1st place winners:
Afton Battle, soprano, Kentucky District
Jonathan Lasch, baritone, Southern Ohio District

2nd place:
Kathryn Leemhuis, mezzo-soprano, Indiana District

3rd place:
Jung Nan Yoon, soprano, Indiana District

Encouragement Award:
Elizabeth Koontz, soprano, Southern Ohio District.

2007 regional winners(Pictured from left to right, Carroll Freeman, Jonathan Lasch, Mignon Dunn, Afton Battle and George Darden. Photo:Pat Trotter)

Rich Copley's article on the Regional Competition

Janelle Gelfand's article on the Regional Competition

National Semi-Finals
New York, Metropolitan Opera
February 17, 2008

Grand Finals Concert
New York, Metropolitan Opera
February 24, 2008

2006/2007 Season

Kentucky District
Lexington, Memorial Hall
October 28, 2006

Winners: Brandy Lynn  Hawkins, Mezzo-Soprano
Brian Tierney, Tenor
Christopher Conley, Countertenor
Encouragement Award: Amanda Balltrip, Soprano


(Very Encouraged: Amanda Balltrip)

Judges: Katherine Ciesinski
George Shirley
Peter Clark

WUKY Radio broadcast: November 15, 2006

Tri-State Regional Finals
Indianapolis, Indiana, Butler University Clowes Memorial Hall
January 20, 2007

Winner:Jamie Barton, Mezzo-Soprano, 25, from the Indiana District

Judges: Brian Dickie
Sheri Greenawald
Danielle Orlandi

National Semi-Finals
New York, Metropolitan Opera
March 25, 2007, 12:00 PM


Grand Finals Concert
New York, Metropolitan Opera
April 1, 2007, 3:00 PM

Ms. Barton was selected as one of the six winners.

Judges: Sarah Billinghurst
Brian Dickie
Jonathan Friend
Gayletha Nichols
Craig Rutenberg
Diane Zola


2005/2006 Season

Kentucky District:
Lexington, Memorial Hall
November 12, 2005

Winners: Anne Fuchs, Soprano
Anson Hanbury, Tenor
Korin Kormick, Mezzo-Soprano
Encouragement Award:  Brandy Lynn Hawkins

Judges: Diana Soviero
Christopher Hahn
Kevin Murphy

Tri-State Region:
CCM, Cincinnati
January 8, 2006

Winner: Corey Crider, Baritone, Ohio District

Judges: Roger Pines
Felicity Jackson
Gayletha Nichols

2004/2005 Season

Kentucky District:
Lexington, Memorial Hall
October 30, 2004

Winners: Lillian Roberts, Soprano
Brocha Evans, Soprano
Audrey Luna, Soprano 

Judges: Dominic Cossa
Mikael Eliasen
Anthony Dean Griffey

Tri-State Region:
Lexington, Memorial Hall
November 20, 2004

Winner: Jordan Bisch, Bass

Judges: Andrew Wentzel
Lenore Rosenberg
Benita Valente


2003/2004 Season

Kentucky District:
Lexington, Memorial Hall
November 8, 2003

Winners: Meredith Arwady, 25 Contralto
Jeremy A. Kelly, 25, Baritone
Audrey Luna, 25 Soprano

Judges: Stanford Olsen
Martin Katz
Susan Ashbaker

Tri-State Region:
November 22, 2003
Indianapolis, Butler University, Clowes Hall

Winner: Meredith Arwady

Ms. Arwady was a 2004 National Winner

Judges: Mikael Eliasen
Gayletha Nichols
Michael Sylvester


2002/2003 Season

Kentucky District:
Lexington, Memorial Hall
November 2, 2002

Winners: Mark Huseth, Baritone
Christy Pritchard, Soprano
Norman Reinhardt, Tenor
Encouragement Award: Jenny Meggitt

Judges: Paul Plishka
Nicholas Muni
Paul Kilmer

Tri-State Region:
December 14, 2002
Cincinnati, CCM

Winner: Christina Pier, 28, Soprano, Indiana District

Judges: Jonathan Friend
Edward Purrington
William Stone


2001/2002 Season

Kentucky District:
Lexington, Memorial Hall
October 27, 2001

Winners: Corey S. Crider, Baritone
              Patricia Andress, Soprano
              Rebecca Davis, Soprano 

Judges: Linda Hall
Mark Oswald
Sherrill Milnes


Tri-State Region:
Lexington, Memorial Hall
November 10, 2001

Winner: Corey  S. Crider
John Hoomes
Gayletha Nichols

2000/2001 Season 

Kentucky District:
Lexington, Memorial Hall
October 28, 2000

Winners: Steven Paul Spears, Tenor
              Norman Reinhardt, Tenor
              Rebecca Bortz, Mezzo-Soprano

Judges: Ken Noda
            Peter Randsman
            Anna Moffo


Tri-State Region:
Indianapolis, Butler University, Clowes Memorial Hall
November 18, 2005

Winner: Kristine Winkler, Soprano, Indiana District

Ms. Winkler was a 2001 National Grand Finals Winner
and made her MET Debut in Lulu.

Judges: John Berry
Richard Harrell

1999/2000 Season

The Kentucky District Auditions and the Tri-State Regional Finals prior to the 2000/2001 season were presented by the Kentucky Opera Guild and PNC Bank and held at the University of Louisville in

The Tri-State Region, comprising West Virginia, central and southern Ohio, central and southern Indiana, and Kentucky was formed in 1963/64.


Kentucky District:
December 4, 1999
University of Louisville

Winners: Olivia L. Blackmon, Soprano
              Andrea Jones, Soprano
              Justin Vickers, Tenor

Judges: Richard Best
            Carol Crawford
            Barbara Kierig


Tri-State Region:
Cincinnati, CCM
December 11, 1999

Winner: Yoonsoo Shin, Tenor, Indiana District

Judges: Mignon Dunn
Dennis Giauque

1998/1999 Season

Kentucky District:
November 14, 1998

Winner: Daniel Weeks, Tenor

Judges: Edward Baird
Diane Bolden-Taylor
Deborah Sandler

Tri-State Region:
January 9, 1999

Winner: Daniel Weeks
Kirk Eichelberger, Bass

Mr. Weeks went on to become a National Winner in 1999.

Judges: Robert Bass
Doris Yarick-Cross
Gail Robinson

1997/1998 Season

Kentucky District:
November 1, 1997
University of Louisville

Winners: Angelique Clay, Soprano
Rebecca Bortz, Mezzo
Daniel Weeks, Tenor

Judges: Douglas Fisher
Hilda Harris
John Wustman

Tri-State Region:
Indianapolis, Butler University, Clowes Memorial Hall
November 22, 1997

Winner: Kyle Ketelsen, Bass- Baritone, Indiana District
            Philip Horst, Bass- Baritone, Ohio District

Judges: Paul Kilmer
Octavio Rocco
Stephen Wadsworth

1996/1997 Season

Kentucky District:
October 26, 1996
University of Louisville

Winners: Daniel Weeks, Tenor
              Leslie Wigginton, Soprano
              Paul Allen Brown, Baritone

Judges: Judith Haddon
            Felicity Jackson
            John Stewart

Tri-State Region:
Cincinnati, CCM
November 30, 1996

Winner: Angela Brown, Soprano, Indiana District

Ms. Brown was a 1997 National Winner

Judges: Mikael Eliasen
Peter Russell
Richard Best

 1995/1996 Season

Kentucky District:
November 4, 1995

Winners: Lisa van der Ploeg, Mezzo
Daniel Ott, Bass
Joseph Wilkinson, Bass

Judges: Ariel Bybee
Ryan Edwards
Roger Pines

1994/1995 Season

Kentucky District:

Winners: Gregory Turay, Tenor 
              Steven Paul Spears, Tenor
              Annette Silver-Betts, Soprano


Tri-State Region:

Winner: Gregory Turay


Mr. Turay was a National Grand Finals Winner in 1995,
subsequently joined the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and made his MET debut as Bringhella in Ariadne auf Naxos.


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