'Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition' Announces 10 Finalists
Finalists to compete at the public Grand Finals Concert, accompanied by the Met Orchestra, conducted by Marco Armiliato, and hosted by soprano Nadine Sierra on Sunday, May 1
Winners will receive individual cash prizes of $20,000 and invaluable exposure in the opera world
Following the semi-final competition, ten singers have advanced to the final round of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2022 Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition—the Grand Finals Concert, where they will compete on the Met stage Sunday, May 1, at 3PM ET. The winners will receive individual cash prizes of $20,000, while the non-winning finalists will each receive $10,000. The finalists were chosen by a panel of opera administrators from the Met and other companies. At the finals, each contestant will perform two arias accompanied by the Met Orchestra, conducted by Marco Armiliato. The concert will be hosted by soprano Nadine Sierra, who was a Grand Finals winner in 2009, and will also feature a performance by Sierra.
The Laffont Grand Finals is open to the public. It will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on Sirius XM channel 355, and streamed live on the Met’s website at metopera.org/livestream. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased at the Met box office, by phone at 212.362.6000, or online at metopera.org.
The 2022 finalists, the regions they represent in the competition, and their hometowns are:
Rachel Blaustein, 30, soprano (Eastern Region: Olney, Maryland)
Le Bu, 26, bass-baritone (Midwest Region: Yan Cheng, China)
Matthew Cairns, 27, tenor (Great Lakes Region: Toronto, Canada)
Jonas Jud, 25, bass (New England Region: Trogen, Switzerland)
Daniel O’Hearn, 26, tenor (Rocky Mountain Region: Chicago, Illinois)
Alexandra Razskazoff, 30, soprano (Southeast Region: New Brighton, Minnesota)
Maggie Reneé, 23, mezzo-soprano (Eastern Region: New York, New York)
Julie Roset, 25, soprano (Central Region: Avignon, France)
Anne Marie Stanley, 30, mezzo-soprano (Upper Midwest Region: Princeton, New Jersey)
Esther Tonea, 28, soprano (Western Region: Buford, Georgia)
About the Competition
The Laffont Competition is open to singers from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as other international entrants training or residing in those countries. This season, the competition had more than 1,100 applicants, with more than 800 singers qualifying for the 39 district auditions, including five in a virtual format and the rest held live. Of the 126 singers in the regional rounds, 21 were named semifinalists.
These auditions are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition, including the Laffont Competition donors and hundreds of volunteers from across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. More than $300,000 in prize money has already been awarded in the district and regional rounds.
The Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition, formerly known since its founding in 1954 as the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, is now in its 68th season. The Met’s nationwide vocal competition is a potentially career-making opportunity for aspiring opera singers, given the reach of the auditions, the number of applicants, and the program’s long tradition. The Auditions have been crucial in introducing many of today’s best-known stars, including Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Eric Owens, Stephanie Blythe, Hei-Kyung Hong, Sondra Radvanovsky, Lawrence Brownlee, Michael Fabiano, Latonia Moore, Lisette Oropesa, Jamie Barton, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Ryan Speedo Green, and Nadine Sierra.
The competition gained international acclaim with the release of the 2008 feature-length documentary The Audition, directed by award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke, which chronicled the 2007 National Council Auditions season and Grand Finals Concert.
During the 2021–22 season, Rachel Blaustein sings Frasquita in Carmen at Chicago Opera Theater, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi at Tulsa Opera, Micól Finzi-Contini in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis at New York City Opera, and Ruth in the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s Awakenings at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She also covers the Monument in Kamala Sankaram’s Rise as a part of Washington National Opera’s Written in Stone and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Last summer, she was an apprentice artist at the Santa Fe Opera, where she sang Autonoe in the world premiere of John Corigliano’s The Lord of Cries and Peaseblossom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other recent appearances include Bach’s Mass in B minor with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Bel Canto Chorus and Save Mart Customer / Queer Kid in Kamala Sankaram’s Taking Up Serpents at Chicago Opera Theater.
Le Bu is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree at Manhattan School of Music, under the instruction of legendary bass-baritone James Morris. He began his vocal training at Shanghai Conservatory of Music before transferring to Wichita State University, where he studied with tenor Michael Sylvester. This year, he joined San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program and has also participated in the Aspen Music Festival and School and iSING! International Young Artist Festival. His operatic roles in Figaro and Dr. Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro and Simone in Gianni Schicchi. In 2018, he was a winner of the Barbara Rondelli Kansas Statewide Classical Voice Competition. Midwest Region.
A current member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, Matthew Cairns recently sang the Prince of Persia in Turandot, the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel, and the Gamekeeper in Rusalka, and covers Alfredo in La Traviata. He has also appeared as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi with the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, Liberto in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Detlef in Romberg’s The Student Prince at Chautauqua Institution, where he placed first in its Sigma Alpha Iota Competition. Other roles include Count Belfiore in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera, Sam Kaplan in Weill’s Street Scene, and Sam Sharkey / a Lumberjack in Britten’s Paul Bunyan. He was a finalist in the 2022 Neue Stimmen Competition, first-prize winner of the 2018 Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio Competition, and winner of the CBC Music Young Artist Development Prize.
Jonas Jud completed his bachelor’s degree in 2020 at the Conservatorio di Musica Agostino Steffani in Castelfranco Veneto, Italy, and is now pursuing his master’s at the Yale School of Music. He has sung Caronte in Monteverdi’s Orfeo with the Ouverture opera company in Sion, Switzerland; Colline La Bohème at Opernspiele Munot in Schaffhausen, Switzerland; Truffaldin in Ariadne auf Naxos and Skomoroch in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tale of Tsar Saltan at Germany’s Isny Oper; Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte at the Teatro Civico di Schio and Teatro di Castelfranco Veneto; and the Speaker in Die Zauberflöte at the Yale Opera. He has also covered the roles of Dr. Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro and Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Santa Fe Opera. This August, he will sing Sarastro at Opernspiele Munot, and in September, he joins the International Opera Studio at Opernhaus Zürich.
Daniel O’Hearn is currently a resident artist with Utah Opera, where this season he sings Bill in Jonathan Dove’s Flight and Spoletta in Tosca, and covers Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Last summer, he was an apprentice artist at the Santa Fe Opera, where he covered Tom Snout in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Peasant in Eugene Onegin. He returns this coming summer to cover le Remendado in Carmen and the Sailor and Shepherd in Tristan und Isolde. He has also performed as a soloist in a number of classical concert works, including in Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and Handel’s Messiah with the Utah Symphony. He was the winner of the 2019 American Prize from the American Prize Oratorio Society of Chicago and placed first in the 2019 Kleinman Competition. Rocky Mountain Region.
This year, Alexandra Razskazoff will make her international debut as Mimì in La Bohème at Chile’s Teatro Municipal de Santiago and reprise her portrayals of Violetta in La Traviata at Opera Columbus and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Teatro Grattacielo at the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice. Also during the 2021–22 season, she sang Suzel in Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz with Teatro Grattacielo and Giannetta in L’Elisir d’Amore at Palm Beach Opera, where she also covered Micaëla in Carmen and Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow. She was a young artist in San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program and an apprentice artist at the Santa Fe Opera, and while a member of these prestigious programs, she prepared roles including Violetta, the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Musetta in La Bohème, Wellgunde in Das Rheingold, and Blanche de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites.
An honors graduate of the Juilliard School, where she is currently pursuing her master’s degree, Maggie Reneé sings the Second Boy in Die Zauberflöte with San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program and Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress with Juilliard Opera this season. Last season, she covered Olga in Eugene Onegin and a Bridesmaid in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Santa Fe Opera and sang King Egeo in Handel’s Teseo and Goffredo in Handel’s Rinaldo at Juilliard. She has also sung Carmen in La Tragédie de Carmen at City Lyric Opera, toured Europe with Juilliard’s production of Dido and Aeneas, and made her European debut as Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro in Germany.
Julie Roset has sung Papagena in Die Zauberflöte at Opéra de Toulon, Aurora and Giunone in Sacrati’s La Finta Pazza at Opéra de Dijon and Opéra Royal de Versailles, Amour in Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes at Opéra Royal de Versailles and the Beaune Festival, Amour in Mondonville’s Titon et l’Aurore with Les Arts Florissants at Paris’s Opéra Comique, and Galatea in Handel’s Acis and Galatea at the Juilliard School, and appeared in Il Combattimento, la Théorie du Cygne Noir, a musical journey through the Italian Baroque, at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. As a concert performer, she has appeared with Cappella Mediterranea, Ensemble Pygmalion, and Le Centre d’Art Vocal et de Musique Ancienne’s Millennium Orchestra Ensemble Correspondences, among others. This season, she sings Galatea with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Euridice in Rossi’s Orfeo with Julliard415, and Amore and Valetto in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
Anne Marie Stanley is a third-year resident artist at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia, where she recently appeared as Olga in Eugene Onegin. In her first year at AVA, she sang Léonor de Guzman in Donizetti’s La Favorite, as well as works by Korngold, Massenet, and Bernstein. Elsewhere, she has performed Mozart’s Mass in C major with the New England Symphonic Ensemble at Carnegie Hall and Dinah in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti and Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro with Music Academy of the West. In 2015 and 2017, she was an apprentice artist at the Santa Fe Opera, where she sang Giovanna in Rigoletto and covered Olivia in the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain. She recently won first prize in the 2021 AVA Giulio Giargiari Bel Canto Vocal Competition and was selected as a grand finalist in the 2021 Vincerò World Singing Competition.
Romanian-American soprano Esther Tonea has appeared in concert and recital across North America and Europe. In 2021, she performed in The Adler Fellows in Concert with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, singing the mad scene from Bellini’s Il Pirata, and in The Adlers: Live at the Drive-In, where she sang music from Valurile Dunării. She has also appeared as a soloist in Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis and The Creation, Mahler’s Symphonies No. 4 and 2, and Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate and Requiem, and in 2019, she sang Diana in the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s If I Were You. She is a Richard F. Gold Career Grant recipient and an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera. She holds a master’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Georgia.
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