The final phase of competition is a live public concert held this Sunday, March 19, on the Met stage; winners will receive individual cash prizes of $15,000 and career-launching exposure

New York, NY (March 15, 2017) – Following yesterday’s highly competitive semi-final competition, nine young singers will advance to the final phase of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2017 National Council Auditions, America’s most prestigious vocal competition. The selected finalists, chosen by a panel of experts from the classical music industry, will compete on the Met stage on Sunday, March 19 at 3 p.m. The winners will receive individual cash prizes of $15,000 and the prestigious—and potentially career-launching—title of National Council Auditions Winner. The Grand Finals Concert will be hosted by Renée Fleming, a 1988 National Council Winner, and feature Nicola Luisotti conducting the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as each finalist performs two arias. During judges’ deliberations, Amber Wagner, Jamie Barton, and Michael Fabiano will perform; all three singers came to prominence as winners of the 2007 auditions, which were documented in the film The Audition.

The 2017 finalists, the regions they represent in the competition, and their hometowns are: Natalie Image, 24, soprano (Western Region: Tsawwassan, BC, Canada); Kirsten MacKinnon, 26, soprano (Middle Atlantic Region: Vancouver, BC, Canada); Gabriella Reyes de Ramírez, 24, soprano (New England Region: Meriden, CT); Vanessa Vasquez, 26, soprano (Middle Atlantic Region: Scottsdale, AZ); Samantha Hankey, 24, mezzo-soprano (Eastern Region: Marshfield, MA); Richard Smagur, 26, tenor (Central Region: Clarkesville, GA); Kyle van Schoonhoven, 28, tenor (Central Region: Lockport, NY); Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, 23, countertenor (Eastern Region: Brooklyn, NY); and Cody Quattlebaum, 23, bass-baritone (Eastern Region: Ellicott City, MD) round out the list of contestants competing on Sunday.

The concert will be hosted by Renée Fleming and feature past 2007 National Council Auditions winners Amber Wagner, Jamie Barton, and Michael Fabiano as guest artists singing during the judges’ deliberations. Tickets for the Grand Finals Concert may be purchased at the Met Box Office, by phone at 212-362-6000, or online at

The Met Auditions, currently in their 64th year, are a major stepping stone to a career as an opera singer. Over 100 singers on the Met roster this season have participated in the Auditions, which were crucial in introducing many of today’s best-known stars, such as Lawrence Brownlee, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Sondra Radvanovsky, Deborah Voigt, and Frederica von Stade.

The finalists were chosen from nearly 1,200 singers who participated in auditions held in 42 districts and 12 regions throughout the United States and Canada, 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 in North America for singers seeking to launch an operatic career.


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