Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition

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. 

INO Opera Truck-First Live Opera Performance of 2021

Many family, friends, and followers know that in March of 2020, I was mere weeks away from performing my senior recital and Sweeney Todd with Eastman Opera Theatre. While the pain of those losses has eased, I have been itching to sing for people again. Thanks to Inland Northwest Opera, I finally had that chance.

Technically, this was not my first vocal performance of 2021, as I sang for an intimate funeral in July. That is for another blog post.

On August 6, 2021, Inland Northwest Opera premiered their “Opera Truck.” The photo in this blog post is shared from their outreach performance in the community. The opera truck is designed to bring opera to the people, wherever they are! I love the idea of opera calling to people. I will admit, I had visions of people running after the truck, as I have always wanted to do that with an ice cream truck.

Inland Northwest Opera’s Opera Truck

Before the Event

The premiere of the opera truck was hosted at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture. The truck was set up when I arrived, and to my surprise, several people had already set up chairs to watch the performance on the substantive lawn.

Several of my colleagues had sound checks, and it was great to hear their sound. As we waited for the show to begin, people even came up to ask what the event was for and if they could stay and listen. (My dream of running after the ice cream truck was coming true!)

It was so great to hear all of my colleagues as well. Some I knew from previous performances. Some were new to me, and it was great to hear their beautiful voices.

Singing Outside

My teacher warned me in my lesson before the performance that many things can go wrong while singing outside. In fact, I believe her words were, “If you do enough of these, you will swallow a bug. It’s inevitable.”

Spokane had a very dry summer and was starkly feeling the effects of the West Coast wildfires. The air was deemed “healthy” to “moderate” on the day of the performance, but it was still dry and a bit dusty. I prepared by bringing my personal steam inhaler to help ward off the phlegm before the performance.

I also decided that while eventually I may swallow a bug while singing, I did not want to do that in my first live performance of 2021. I avoided hairspray, perfume, and anything else that might attract unwanted flying fiends to my face.

The Performance

I was so excited to perform again. I was also very nervous. I was nervous I would forget the words. I was worried I would not sing something properly or that my voice would be flat. However, I was also excited to share music with my community. I was excited to feel the energy of the crowd and share my energy and hard work with them.

I performed the Jewel Song from Gounod’s Faust. This is a piece that means a lot to me. Coloratura has not always been easy for me. In fact, when my teacher suggested the piece I thought she was crazy. However, after hard work and positive self-talk, it has become a fun piece to sing that is actually easier than many of my other pieces.

It was so fun to sing in an open area. The design of the truck was perfect for taking up space as a performer. I got to step through the truck and onto a stage, and it really felt like “re-emerging” from so many months of only singing into a camera in my parents’ living room.

I was pleased with my performance, mostly because it was fun! It was so amazing to feel the energy of the accompanist, Scott Rednour. Working with a skilled pianist feels like a conversation. You get to know someone in how they treat a piece of music, and you have to listen as much as you “talk.” When you add the audience, another person is added to the conversation.

I really felt that this performance was special, because I could feel so many people rejoicing at finding a safe way to enjoy opera again. This was something we needed in so many ways.

A woman named Aiko stopped me after the performance to ask for a picture, and that was a first. She was so kind, and you could see that she had such a passion for music. I was grateful to connect with her. In a time when it has been easy to feel isolated, it was amazing to realize that people can still connect and say so much without even speaking.