On January 9, 2022, I got to participate in my first competition in two years. With the pandemic and my gap year from school, there were not exactly a lot of opportunities for competitions. It was so thrilling to compete again. 

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition recently changed its name to the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition. The competition is for young artists all across the nation to showcase their skills, get feedback, and of course, compete for awards. 

In the last two years, the competition has added a qualifying round, so now the rounds of the competition include:

1. Qualifying

2. Districts

3. Regionals

4. Semi-Finals (in some areas)

5. Grand Finals

The qualifying round this year was held virtually. I qualified in October! In November, we got to sign up for our district. I decided to enter in the Oregon district, as it is only a short plane ride from my hometown to Portland and the Washington district conflicted with IU’s production of Falstaff, in which I sang chorus. 

With the Omicron wave, I did worry that my district may end up canceled or put online, but with health and safety precautions, we moved forward. 

My amazingly supportive parents and husband flew with me the day before. We enjoyed some family bonding time and went to sleep early to get ready for the big day. 

I am so grateful for their support. As I was getting ready, I ended up with a wardrobe emergency when my stockings ripped. My mom had just happened to pack some and she gave them to me. I like to say, “I don’t mind if my stockings rip, because something will go wrong when you’re performing and at least that doesn’t affect my voice.” My mom helped me get ready and stay on top of my nerves. 

Lincoln Hall at Portland State University

When we arrived at Portland State University, we found out that two of the judges had to be replaced, so Melissa Wegner from the Met would be filling in, as well as the general director of Seattle Opera. What a great set of judges! 

I was nervous for my performance. More nervous than I had been for a performance in a while. I could hear some of my colleagues. They sounded good. I was on the younger side of the competition. I just kept praying that I would not leave empty handed. 

The performance was thrilling. I started with one of my favorite arias, “Il est doux, il est bon” from Hérodiade, and it went well! 

After the performance, I got to hear my colleagues. It was such a good learning experience. My husband has been taking voice lessons from me, and I loved the chance to show him some of the pedagogy in action, “Look at his tongue! Did you hear how free that note was?” “Look at how balanced she is standing. That’s going to serve her so well.” It was also just a great opportunity to hear amazing singers. 

After what was only 3 hours but felt like days, we finally got to the awards. They announced me right away as an encouragement award winner! I could hardly believe it! 

For anyone unfamiliar, an encouragement award is similar to an honorable mention. It includes a prize and is meant to “encourage” you to keep going in a forward trajectory and enter again. It does not qualify for any further rounds, but it is still a huge honor. 

I am thrilled to have received an encouragement award at my first competition in years. I am especially grateful my family was there to celebrate with me! 

After the awards, we got to get one-on-one feedback from the judges. I have my work cut out for me, but they clearly believed I can do it, and I am not afraid to dig deep and accomplish some great things in this coming semester at IU.