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Michael Brandenburg wins Grand Prize at Met Opera National Council Auditions

March 17, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Jacobs School of Music student and Jacobs Fellow Michael Brandenburg was named one of six winners at the annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Finals on March 10.

Michael Brandenburg (left) celebrates with his voice teacher, IU Distinguished Professor Timothy Noble (right).

Print-Quality Photo

A student of IU Distinguished Professor Timothy Noble, Brandenburg is the 35th Jacobs School singer to receive the coveted award since the program's founding 60 years ago.

As a winner of a competition that included singers nationwide, he received a $15,000 cash prize and an opportunity for professional recognition that can launch a career.

"It's kind of surreal," Brandenburg said in an interview with the Bloomington Herald-Times following the win . "People told me I had a pretty good chance of winning, but everyone in the competition is so good. I was thinking, 'I'm glad I'm not a judge.'"

"I think he's going to be the next great tenor, I really do," said Noble. "It's like God reached down and touched him and said, 'You're it.'"

The winners were selected from 10 finalists who performed arias on the Met stage with the Met Orchestra, conducted by Marco Armiliato. In addition to the cash prize, the winners (and non-winning finalists) performed in front of an audience that included artistic directors of leading opera companies, artist managers, established opera stars, important teachers and coaches, music critics and others who can play an influential role in the careers of young singers.

Naomi Lewin of WQXR in New York interviewed the winners the following night in a live webcast. Read about and listen to the show.

The grand prize was previously won by such IU alumni as Jamie Barton (2007), Sylvia McNair (1982), Elizabeth Futral (1991), Angela Brown (1997) and Larry Brownlee (2001). Other famous singers who were selected as winners include Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner, Jessye Norman, Samuel Ramey, Frederica von Stade, Deborah Voigt and Dolora Zajick.

A native of Austin, Ind., Brandenburg studied voice with Joseph Levitt while pursuing an M.S. in Aquatic Biology at Ball State University and s currently pursuing a Performer Diploma at the Jacobs School.

He has studied the roles of Don Jose in "Carmen" and Alfred in "Die Fledermaus" and sang the role of Prince Charming in IU Opera Theater's "Cendrillon" last November. He was a 2010 semi-finalist in the Bel Canto Foundation Competition in Chicago and an Indiana District winner in the 2010 Met Auditions.

Thirty-five Jacobs School singers have won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition competition, which is substantially more than any other conservatory or school of music in the country.

2013 Michael Brandenburg
2007 Jamie Barton
2005 Jordan Bisch
2003 Christina Pier
2002 Twyla Robinson
2001 Larry Brownlee and Kristine Winkler
1998 Kyle Ketelsen
1997 Angela Brown
1996 Leah Creek
1993 Kathryn Krasovec
1992 Christopher Schaldenbrand
1991 Elizabeth Futral
1990 Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet and Clare Mueller
1988 Heidi Grant Murphy
1986 Mark Baker, Mark S. Doss, Marilyn Mims and Michael Sylvester
1985 Stephen Biggers, Richard Cowan and Julia Faulkner
1984 Gerald Dolter and Nova Thomas
1982 Sylvia McNair
1981 Rebecca Cook and Laura Brooks Rice
1980 Kevin Langan
1979 Jane Bunnell, Robert McFarland and Jan Opalach
1978 Wendy White
1974 Alma Jean Smith
1965 Richard Stilwell