Jan. 19, 2011 / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MUSIC STUDENT WINS AT N.C. DISTRICT AUDITIONS OF MET OPERA NATIONAL
WINSTON-SALEM – University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) School of Music student and A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute Fellow Richard Ollarsaba, bass-baritone, was a winner at the North Carolina District Auditions of the Metropolitan Opera National Council (MONC) this past weekend.
Ollarsaba, a second-year Master of Music student, was one of four equal winners of the N.C. District Auditions, which were held Jan. 15 at Queens University in Charlotte.
A student of UNCSA School of Music faculty-artist Marilyn Taylor, Ollarsaba was awarded the Florence C. Poyner Award at the District Auditions. He sang O jeurs heureux from Meyerbeer’s L’étoile du Nord and Si tra i ceppi from Handel’s Susanna.
A native of Tempe, Ariz., Ollarsaba received his Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland, Ohio, where he studied under Mary Schiller.
Ollarsaba and the three other equal winners will represent North Carolina and will compete against other winners from South Carolina, Georgia and Florida at the Southeast Region Finals in Atlanta on Feb. 6. There, one winner will be chosen to represent the Southeast Region in the National Semi-Finals in New York on March 6. The Grand Finals Concert will be held at the Metropolitan Opera on March 13.
Other A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute Fellows at UNCSA also competed in District Auditions. Tenor Marvin Kehler, baritone Ted Federle and mezzo-soprano Katherine Ardoin competed in N.C. District Auditions. Soprano Amanda Moody competed in the Tennessee District Auditions on Jan. 8. They are all students of Marilyn Taylor, who won a UNC Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2009.
Singers from UNCSA have won numerous district, regional and national Met auditions in years past. Ollarsaba is the fifth N.C. District Auditions winner from Dr. Taylor’s studio in the past four years and the 14th student from the Fletcher Institute to win at the district level. Last year, baritone Joshua Conyers was one of the four equal winners in the N.C. District and won an Encouragement Award at the Southeast Regional Finals in Atlanta. In 2009, soprano Jodi Burns and tenor Marvin Kehler, both A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute Fellows at UNCSA, were two of the four equal winners. Burns went on to win the Metropolitan Opera National Council’s (MONC) Southeast Regional Finals in Atlanta and represented the entire Southeast region in the National Semi-Finals in New York. In 2008, UNCSA’s René Barbera won at the N.C. District level and went on to win the Met’s national competition, singing in the Grand Finals Concert.
In November 2010, Barbera was one of 10 equal winners of the William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation awards. The award includes an $11,000 grant and eligibility to apply for preparation grants for new roles in opera or other works for full orchestra. The Sullivan Foundation was established in 1956 through the bequest of a prominent lawyer, William Matheus Sullivan. Its first director was Edward Johnson, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera. Among singers who have received Sullivan Awards are Jessye Norman, Jerry Hadley, Susan Graham and Renee Fleming.
Established in 1954, the Met’s National Council Auditions is a program designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers. Many of the world’s foremost singers – among them, Renée Fleming, Thomas Hampson, Jessye Norman, Ben Heppner, Deborah Voigt, Teresa Stratas, Samuel Ramey, and Frederica von Stade – have received awards from the National Council. Annually, approximately 100 former auditioners appear in Metropolitan Opera productions.
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established as the North Carolina School of the Arts by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, UNCSA opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from high school through graduate school train for careers in the arts in five professional schools: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA is the state’s only public arts conservatory, dedicated entirely to the professional training of talented students in the performing, visual and moving image arts. UNCSA is located at 1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.