Five Young Singers Named 2016 Winners of
America’s Most Prestigious Vocal Competition,
The Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions
New York, NY – After a months-long series of competitions at the district, regional, and national levels, a panel of expert judges named five young singers as the winners of the nation’s most prestigious vocal competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Each winner receives a $15,000 cash prize and the prestige and exposure that come with winning the competition that launched the careers of many of opera’s biggest stars.
This year’s winners are Yelena Dyachek, 24, soprano, (Western Region: Sacramento, CA); Emily D’Angelo, 21, mezzo-soprano, (Great Lakes Region: Toronto, Canada); Jakub Józef Orliński, 25, countertenor (New England Region: Warsaw, Poland, currently living in New York, NY); Sol Jin, 30, baritone (Eastern Region: South Korea, currently living in Fort Lee, NJ); and Sean Michael Plumb, 24, baritone (Gulf Coast Region: Philadelphia, PA).
Earlier this afternoon, nine finalists performed on the Met stage in the final phase of the competition. Each sang two arias with the Met orchestra, led by Antony Walker. The audience for the Grand Finals Concert included artistic directors of leading opera companies, artist managers, important teachers and coaches, music critics, and many other industry professionals with the potential to play an influential role in the career of a young singer.
The Met Auditions, currently in their 63rd year, were the public’s first introduction to many of today’s best-known stars, including Lawrence Brownlee, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Sondra Radvanovsky, and Frederica von Stade. Recent winners who have gone on to embark on major operatic careers include Paul Appleby, Jamie Barton, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Michael Fabiano, Lisette Oropesa, Susanna Phillips, Alek Shrader, and Amber Wagner. Over 100 singers who participated in the National Council process early in their careers are on the Met’s roster in the current season.
The Grand Finals Concert was hosted by soprano Deborah Voigt and featured a performance by guest artist Eric Owens; both Voigt and Owens first came to prominence as winners of the Auditions. The concert was recorded for broadcast at a later date on public radio stations across the United States.
The remaining four finalists—Lauren Feider, 23, soprano, (Southeast Region: New Holstein, WI); tenor Jonas Hacker, 27 (Middle Atlantic Region: Lake Delton, WI); Theo Hoffman, 22, baritone (Eastern Region: New York, NY); and Brian Vu, 26, baritone (Southeast Region: Los Angeles, CA)—each received a cash prize of $5,000.
The regional and district-level auditions, held across the U.S. and Canada, are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council and administered by National Council members and hundreds of volunteers from across the country. Given the reach of the auditions, the number of applicants, and the program’s long tradition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions are considered the most prestigious competition for singers seeking to launch an operatic career.
EMILY D’ANGELO (Mezzo-Soprano)
The winner of both First Prize and the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 annual Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio Competition, Italian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo will join the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio for their 2016/2017 season. In recital Emily has presented in venues including the COC Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre (2016), the Toronto Arts & Letters Club (2015), and WFMT Classical Radio Station, Chicago (2015). She made her solo debut with the Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra in 2014. Emily will make her European debut in 2016 at the Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi under the baton of Maestro James Conlon. Roles with the COC will include Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflöte, and covering the title role in Handel’s Ariodante. Previous credits include Sesto in Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Nerone in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, Annio in Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, and Berta in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Emily won First Prize at the 2016 American National Opera Association’s Carolyn Bailey and Dominick Argento Vocal Competition, and was awarded Second Prize at the 2015 OREL Foundation Ziering-Conlon Competition in Los Angeles. She has received Encouragement Awards as a Finalist in both the George London Foundation Competition (2016) and the Gerda Lissner/Liederkranz Foundation Competition (2015). Emily was a fellow at the Ravinia Steans Institute in Chicago in 2015, and will return as a fellow for their 2016 season. In 2016 she was invited by the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall to participate in “The Song Continues” workshop with Marilyn Horne. An avid recitalist, Emily has presented several recitals in the 2015/2016 season with repertoire ranging from Frauenliebe und –leben to Poèmes pour Mi.
Emily is currently completing her undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Toronto, studying under soprano Elizabeth McDonald, and is a student of New York City voice teacher Patricia McCaffrey.
YELENA DYACHEK (Soprano)
Yelena Dyachek, Ukrainian-American soprano is a student at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where she received her MM degree and is currently completing a Graduate Certificate under the tutelage of Elizabeth Hynes. At USC she has performed Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito, the title role in Iphigénie en Tauride, and Madama Cortese in Il viaggio a Reims. With the Aspen Opera Theater Center, she performed Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and Tatyana in Eugene Onegin. While an undergraduate student at University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music, Dyachek appeared in a National Opera Association Award–winning production of The Merry Wives of Windsor as Mrs. Ford, Pamina in The Magic Flute, and Mrs. Peachum in The Threepenny Opera. In February, Dyachek won the Ana María Martínez Encouragement Award at the Eleanor McCollum Competition in Houston, Texas. She has also received prizes in the National Mondavi Young Artist’s Competition, Palm Springs Opera Guild Competition, and the Pacific Musical Society Competition. Upcoming roles include the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos at USC and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte at the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco.
SOL JIN (Baritone)
Recently selected by Opera News as one their “25 Rising Stars”, Korean baritone Sol Jin was last seen performing last spring as Germont in La Traviata at Carnegie Hall. He reprised the role with San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, from which he recently graduated. He has been praised for his “an incisive performance, evenly and beautifully sung” (Opera News) and “resonant, powerfully projected voice” (SFCV). In 2014 he made his Opera Debut singing with Long Island Opera Company as a Germont in La Traviata. In addition to Germont, Mr. Jin has also appeared with the Merola Opera Program as Rodrigo in Don Carlo, Gianni Schicchi, and Prince Yeletsky in Pique Dame, and also the title role of Macbeth with Manhattan School of Music. Other credits this season include Il Conte in Le Nozze di Figaro with Long Island Opera Company. Mr. Jin received his master’s degree from The Manhattan School of Music and his Bachelor’s degree from Yonsei University. He received 1st prize in The Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition, 4th prize in The Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation’s Annual International Vocal Competition, Emerging Artist Awards for Opera Index Competition, 2nd Prize in XIV ALTAMURA/CARUSO International Voice Competition, as well as the Hugh Ross Annual Singer award from MSM. Mr. Jin was recently selected to advance to the national level of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions after winning the Eastern Region. He will be joining Houston Grand Opera as Studio Artist coming 2016-2017 season.
JAKUB JÓZEF ORLIŃSKI (Countertenor)
Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński, winner of the 2015 Marcella Sembrich International Vocal Competition, is quickly gaining a reputation as a singer of striking vocal beauty and daring stage craft. While working toward his Master’s degree in vocal performance at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, he participated in the prestigious young artist programs at both Teatr Wielki and Opera Narodowa. Since fall, 2015, he has been working toward his Graduate Diploma at The Juilliard School, studying with Edith Wiens. While in Poland, Mr. Orliński performed the roles of Cupid in Venus & Adonis by Blow and Narciso in Agrippina by Handel. While in Germany, he performed the role of Ruggiero in Handel’s Alcina in Aachen and Cottbus, performed select Purcell songs with ballet at the Leipzig Opera House, Philippus in Telemann’s Der Misslungene Braut-Wechsel oder Richardus I, (based on Handel’s Riccardo Primo, Re d’Inghilterra) in Gießen.
Jakub Orliński has triumphed in several vocal competitions: the 1st and 2nd annual International Early Music Vocal Competitions in Poland, where he received “Special Mention” and “Special Prize,” respectively, first prize at Rudolf Petrák’s Singing Competition in Slovakia, 3rd place at the Debut Competition in Igersheim, Germany, Special Mention at the 8th Annual Mazovian Golden Voices Competition in Poland, and 3rd place at Le Grand Prix de l’Opera in Bucharest, Romania.
In his spare time, Mr. Orliński enjoys breakdancing, in addition to other styles of dance. His achievements in this arena include prizes in many dance competitions: 4th place at the Red Bull BC One Poland Cypher competition, 2nd place on the Stylish Strike – Top Rock Contest and 2nd place at The Style Control competition, to name a few. He has also been featured in a video, filmed in Bangkok for the street wear company CROPP, as well as featured as a dancer, model and acrobat in campaigns for Levi’s, Nike, Turbokolor, Samsung, Mercedes-Benz, MAC Cosmetics, Danon and Algida.
SEAN MICHAEL PLUMB (Baritone)
Hailed for his “full, exciting lyric baritone” (Opera News), 24-year-old Sean Michael Plumb studies at the Curtis Institute of Music under the tutelage of renowned instructors Mikael Eliasen and William Stone.
Following a return to the Glimmerglass Festival with main stage performances of Papageno in The Magic Flute and Sam in Trouble in Tahiti, a highlight of the 2015-16 season includes the baritone’s company debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper in the world premiere of South Pole, by composer Miroslav Srnka and librettist Tom Holloway, conducted by General Music Director Kirill Petrenko and directed by Hans Neuenfels. Other performances of the season include productions of La bohème at Curtis Opera Theater, as Marcello, and at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, as Schaunard, as well as Rorem’s dramatic and hauntingly beautiful Aftermath with pianist Mikael Eliasen and the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble. Sean Michael Plumb’s operatic credits feature Belcore (L’elisir d’amore), Dandini (La cenerentola), Robert (Iolanta), Gianni Schicchi, and Ein Musikleher (Ariadne auf Naxos), Kaiser Overall (Der Kaiser von Atlantis), Prince Yamadori (Madama Butterfly), Apollo (Apollo e Dafne), Fiorello (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Wagner (Faust), and Thierry (Dialogues of the Carmelites).
He has been a young artist at The Glimmerglass Festival, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and the Aspen Music Festival and he recently made his national television debut in the HBO documentary “Renee Fleming: a YoungArts MasterClass.” Mr. Plumb performed as the youngest soloist at the Grammy Week Salute to Plácido Domingo in 2010 and was honored by President Obama as a United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts at a ceremony at The White House. The baritone’s numerous awards include the 2015 Sullivan Foundation Award from The Sullivan Foundation, Top Prize at the 2015 Opera Index Competition, a 2015 Sara Tucker Grant from The Richard Tucker Foundation, First Prize at the 2015 Gerda Lissner Liederkranz Competition, the 2015 Theodor Uppman Prize from the George London Foundation, and Third Prize at the 2015 Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition. He has been featured on NPR’s radio program, “From the Top” and has appeared on HBO and WHYY.