Undergrad Emily D'Angelo in recital at the Canadian Opera Company (photo © Dragonfly Imagery)

U of T’s Emily D’Angelo wins Metropolitan Opera National Council audition finals

Undergrad is one of the youngest winners in the history of the prestigious competition

“Voice hued like polished teak,” “vivacious and nimble” and “arrestingly vulnerable” are just a few of the phrases The New York Times used to describe mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo on her win at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition Finals.

“I felt honoured and privileged to represent U of T and Canada in New York,” says D’Angelo. “And I felt incredibly lucky to have the experience of being surrounded by people who care about making amazing art at such a high level – which was as exciting as winning.”

Arguably the most prestigious competition for emerging vocal talent, the Met win was the latest in a series of accomplishments for the fourth-year undergraduate in the voice studies program at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music.

The $15,000 prize follows a packed year of resumé toppers, including the first prize and audience choice award at the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio Competition - Centre Stage, which led to her induction in the company’s 2016-2017 Young Artist Ensemble Studio.

Read more about the COC win

D’Angelo also recently won the German Lieder Prize in the Mary Trueman Vocal Arts Competition at the Art Song Preservation Society of New York.

“We are delighted with Emily D’Angelo's well-deserved success in the recent COC and Met Opera competitions,” says Dean Don McLean. “Congratulations to Emily, her teacher Elizabeth McDonald, and all our colleagues in voice.

“For those of us in the Faculty, this outcome represents research-informed undergraduate teaching and experiential-learning at their best. From classroom, studio, and recital hall to the national and international stage.”

D’Angelo, one of the youngest winners of the Metropolitan Opera’s prize at only 21-years-old, was one of five winners on Sunday, March 13, in New York City. About 1,500 singers in North America audition for the National Council Auditions at district level, regional, semi-final and final levels. There are 42 districts, 13 regions, and only 23 make it to the semi-finals, with the finals capping at nine this year. In the final round, singers audition in a public performance with the Met orchestra in front of a panel of artistic administrators from the Met and guests from other opera companies.

In the past season, D’Angelo has also won first place at the American National Opera Association Competition, Second Prize in the OREL Foundation Rediscovered Voices Competition in Los Angeles, Encouragement Awards from both the George London Foundation Competition and the Gerda Lissner Foundation Lieder/ArtSong Competition and was awarded the Jim and Charlotte Norcop Prize in Song from the Faculty of Music. Last year she won the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto’s Centennial Scholarship.

D’Angelo has studied with soprano McDonald, a sessional lecturer at the Faculty of Music, since she was 16 – from high school to university. 

“To say that being at the MET and hearing Emily perform with the MET orchestra was a thrill, is a complete understatement,” says McDonald. “It is every teacher’s goal to see their students reach for their potential and so this was truly a dream come true – and to be able to share that with her hugely supportive family was an honour.

“I was also thrilled that her coach Jo Greenaway, who has been with us since the beginning, was able to be there as well. Voice teachers work so collaboratively in the studio with students and their coaches and having Jo there was certainly a bonus!”

D’Angelo has previously played the roles of Sesto in Giulio Cesare at the Halifax Summer Opera Festival, Nerone in L'incoronazione di Poppea, Annio in La clemenza di Tito at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy and Berta in The Barber of Seville at Opera York. D’Angelo has participated in young artist programs at the Ravinia Festival and SongFest at Colburn. She made her solo debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2011.

This summer, she will make her European debut at the Spoleto Festical dei Due Mondi under the baton of James Conlon. She will also return as a vocal fellow at the Ravinia Steans Music Institute Festival. Come fall, D’Angelo will join the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio along with classmates soprano Danika Lorén and mezzo-soprano Megan Quick, where her roles will include Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflöte, and covering the title role in Ariodante.

U of T is lucky to be able to see this Metropolitan Opera winner for free before she graduates – D’Angelo will sing at the Norcop Prize in Song recital with Gwendolyn Williams Koldofsky accompanying prize-winning pianist Sonya Sim at the Faculty of Music’s Walter Hall on March 31 at noon. They will perform La regata veneziana by Rossini, Chansons de Bilitis by Debussy, selections by Grieg, and various selections of English songs. 

Jessica Lewis is a writer with the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto.

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