Due to the many issues that have arisen from social distancing requirements and varied government regulations throughout North America, the Utah District auditions were conducted via video livestream, as will all district and region rounds of the 2020-21 MONC Auditions. The judges for the competition were Eric Owens, bass-baritone and Director of Opera Studies and the Curtis Opera Theater at the Curtis Institute of Music, Mary Birnbaum, a stage director and Associate Director of Opera Studies at the Juilliard School, and Mark Schnaible, a bass-baritone and voice teacher for the Marin Roose Pullin Studio of the Arizona Opera and CUNY, and the Artistic Administrator of Summer Opera Tel-Aviv.
The winner(s) of the Utah District will compete in the Rocky Mountain Region Auditions on March 14, 2021. Approximately 20-25 first place winners from the regions throughout North America receive a cash prize and will compete in the National Semifinals on Sunday, May 9, 2021. Up to 11 singers will then compete at the National Grand Finals Concert on Sunday, May 16, 2021. Approximately four to six singers will be named National Council Auditions Winners, each receiving a cash prize and invaluable career-making exposure. Many of the world’s foremost singers have received awards from the National Council and over one hundred alumni of the National Council Auditions sing in Met performances during a typical opera season.
Ashley Fabian, a 30 year-old soprano and native of Charleston, SC, was a Resident Artist with the Pittsburgh Opera from 2017-2019. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and Artist Certificate from the College of Charleston and a Master of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She was first place winner in the 2019-20 MONC South Carolina District and and Encouragement Award winner at the 2016 MONC Illinois District.
Emilie Faiella, a 26 year-old soprano and native of San Dimas, CA, was a Resident Artist with Portland Opera from January to June, 2020. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Azusa Pacific University and a Master of Music degree from Boston University. She was a finalist in the 2020 Classical Singer Competition and received encouragement awards in 2017 and 2019 MONC district auditions.
Daniel O'Hearn, a 24 year-old tenor and native of Chicago, IL, is currently a Resident Artist with Utah Opera where he was featured in the October double-bill and the On Demand Messiah with the Utah Symphony. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in music composition and a Master of Music degree in vocal performance, both from DePaul University. He was a 2019 MONC Illinois District winner and received an encouragement award at the 2019 MONC Central Region.
Eric Taylor, a 26 year-old tenor and native of St. George, Utah, earned a Bachelor of Arts in vocal performance from Westminster College in 2018 and is working toward a Master of Music at Rice University. He has participated in young artist programs with Utah Lyric Opera Summer, Central City Opera, and The Santa Fe Opera. He was a 2016-17 MONC National Semi-finalist, advancing through the Utah District and Rocky Mountain Region auditions.
Brandon Bell, a 26 year-old baritone from Suffolk, VA, is currently a Resident Artist with Utah Opera where he was featured in the October double-bill and the On Demand Messiah with the Utah Symphony. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in vocal performance from the University of Tennessee--Knoxville.
Sarah Joyce Cooper, a 29 year-old soprano from Lincoln, MA, holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from Princeton University and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College. She has been a young artist with the Maryland Lyric Opera Institute and a principal artist with the Boston Opera Collaborativ.
Julia Gershkoff, a 24 year-old soprano from East Greenwich, RI, is currently a Resident Artist with Utah Opera where she was featured in the On Demand Messiah with the Utah Symphony. She holds a Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College and a Master of Music from the University of Southern California.
Catherine Thornsley, a 27 year-old soprano and native of Seattle, WA, is currently a graduate student at University of British Columbia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in vocal performance from Northern Arizona University and has been a frequent encouragement award winner in MONC district competitions.
The MONC Auditions is a program designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist the development of their careers. The auditions are held annually in 12 Regions of the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The Utah District is one of 40 districts within these regions, and provides an opportunity for talented local singers to enter the auditions. Hundreds of volunteers across North America help the Met organize and fund the National Council Auditions in their respective Districts and Regions. They also help the Met raise nearly $500,000 in prize money that the National Council Auditions awards annually at the District, Regional and national levels of the competition.