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Alain Barker
IU Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas
IU Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Met audition finds a star among IU Jacobs School singers

Feb. 19, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Soprano and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music graduate student Carolina Castells has made it through to the Grand Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the elite competition to identify the best young opera singers throughout the nation.

Carolina Castells

Carolina Castells

Print-Quality Photo

The Grand Finals Concert will take place at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on Feb. 24, completing a search for talent that began with more than 1,500 competitors between the ages of 20 and 30. The purpose of the competition is to discover new talent for the Metropolitan Opera and to encourage young singers in preparation for their careers. Several past winners have joined the Metropolitan Opera's roster, including many of the world's foremost singers.

Castells, a student of Chancellor's Professor of Music Costanza Cuccaro, won the Florida District Met Audition near her hometown of Miami. After impressing the judges with her first-place win at the Regional Auditions in Atlanta, she went on to compete in New York Feb. 17 for her place among the finalists. Now she has just one week to prepare for her first performance on the Metropolitan Opera stage during the Grand Finals.

Castells made her professional debut with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra last season in Brahms' Requiem. Her IU Opera Theater performances have included Ned Rorem's Our Town and Mozart's Don Giovanni. Castells will sing in Verdi's Requiem on March 1 in Indianapolis and will play Antonia in the upcoming performance of Les Contes de Hoffmann, opening at the IU Opera Theater April 4.

Several of Cuccaro's students also distinguished themselves in the Met auditions: district winners Angela Mannino, Kevin Murphy, Betsy Uschkrat and Jing Zhang; as well as Kathryn Leemhuis and Jung Nan Yoon, who took home second and third place in the Mid-South Region, respectively.

In addition, a number of students from other voice studios in the Jacobs School featured prominently in this year's auditions. Soprano Christia Starnes, a student of Professor Timothy Noble, was a winner the Central Region. District winners were Eric Anstine (a student of Timothy Noble), John T. Holiday Jr. (a student of Marietta Simpson), Eileen Jennings (a student of Patricia Havranek), and Liz Koontz (a student of Carol Vaness).

The Metropolitan Opera competition has previously been won by such IU alumni as 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.

With a total of 30 voice and opera studies faculty members, the Jacobs School of Music has the largest voice department in any university school of music. It has consistently been ranked as the top voice department in the country. The Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater Program produces seven fully-staged operas each year in the Musical Arts Center, which gives students an opportunity to train for the international world of opera.

The following Jacobs School alumni have won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition Competition since 1965:
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