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Four Winners Named in 
2022-23 Utah District Competition
Savannah Porter, Claire Robinson, Christian Simmons, and Alina Tamborini were named winners of the 2022-23 Utah District round of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition held on November 12, 2022. Each of the four Utah District winners received a cash prize of $1,000 and will compete with the winners of the Colorado-Wyoming, Idaho, and Arizona districts at the Rocky Mountain Regional auditions. The judges also awarded four encouragement awards of $250 each to Sarah Knight, Tshilidzi Ndou, Frank Ruiz, and Christina Villalobos. The audience voted Christian Simmons as their favorite singer of the day.

​The judges for the competition were Ben Heppner, operatic tenor;          Daniel Biaggi, classical arts consultant; and Nino Sanikidze, head coach for the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program at LA Opera.

The winner(s) of the Utah District will compete in the Rocky Mountain Regional Auditions on February 11, 2023. Approximately 20-25 first place winners from the regions throughout North America receive a cash prize and will compete in the National Semifinals on April 17, 2023. Approximately 10 singers will then compete at the National Grand Finals Concert on April 23, 2023. Approximately four to six singers will be named Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition Winners, each receiving a cash prize and invaluable career-making exposure. 

Savannah Porter, Soprano and native of Fort Worth, Texas and current resident of Provo, Utah, will receive a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Brigham Young University in 2022. Recent accolades at BYU include winning the 2020 Concerto Competition as well as the 2021 Young Artist Competition, where she was named “Singer of the Year.”

Claire Robinson, a 25 year-old soprano and native of Pleasant Grove, Utah, has been a three-time national semi-finalist in the NATS Student Audition Competition. She holds Bachelor of Music from Southern Utah University and Master of Music from the University of Oklahoma.

Christian Simmons, 28 year-old bass-baritone and native of Washington, DC, earned a Bachelor of Arts from Morgan State University and Master of Music from the University of Maryland, College Park. He was a 2021-22 Cafritz Young Artist with Washington National Opera and  has performed with various festivals including the Castleton Music Festival, Amalfi Coast Music Festival, Berlin Opera Academy, Bare Opera Company, and the Maryland Opera Studio.

Alina Tamborini, a 28 year-old soprano and native of Okemos, Michigan, holds a Bachelor of Music from Michigan State University and a Master of Music from Stony Brook University. She made her Carnegie Hall debut after placing third in the Talents of the World International Voice Competition and has been a first prize winner in the Elaine Malbin and Mario Lanza Competition and The North International Music Competition.

Sarah Knight, a 24 year-old mezzo soprano from Rocklin, California, is currently a graduate student at Brigham Young University. She holds a bachelor's degree in Vocal Performance from Brigham Young University – Hawaii, and studied with the Utah Vocal Arts Academy.

Tshilidsi Ndou, a 29 year-old baritone from Johannesburg South Africa is a 2022-23 Resident Artist with Utah Opera. He was previously a member of Dallas Opera’s Educational Outreach program and holds music degrees from North West University, South Africa, and Southern Methodist University.

Frank Ruiz, a 24 year-old tenor from Provo, Utah, is a vocal performance student at Utah Valley University. He has performed in numerous productions with Utah Vocal Arts Academy, Utah Lyrical Opera Theater, and UVU Opera Theater.

Christina Villalobos, a 22 year-old soprano from Springville, Utah, is a vocal performance student at Utah Valley University. She was also a 2021 Utah District Laffont Competition Encouragement Award winner and has been a winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition and a participant in the Utah Vocal Arts Academy Summer Opera Program.

The Metropolitan Opera Laffont competition is designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers, and is sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council, including members and hundreds of volunteers from across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Some of today’s greatest singers got their start in the auditions, including Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Stephanie Blythe, Eric Owens, Lawrence Brownlee, Lisette Oropesa, Jamie Barton, Michael Fabiano, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Ryan Speedo Green, and Nadine Sierra.
Cristina Villalobos
Frank Ruiz
Tshilidzi Ndou
Sarah Knight
Alina Tamborini
Christian Simmons
Claire Robinson
Savannah Porter
Nino Sanikidze, Claire Robinson, Alina Tamborini, Ben Heppner,  Christian Simmons, Savannah Porter, and Daniel Biaggi at the November 12, 2022 awards presentation. (photo credit: Robert Breault)
The Utah District round of the Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominque Laffont Competition  is supported in part by the residents of Salt Lake County through the Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP) Program
and the University of Utah School of Music.