Jonathan Pell, Summer of Opera, Part 6

by Megan Meister

I am in Lyon for a major set of auditions for singers that are held every summer in a different European city.  For several years they were held in Berlin, but two years ago they were in Bologna, and last summer they were in Vienna.

Colleagues representing major European and American opera houses are here with me to “scout” talent.  There were people this year on the panel for the two days of preliminary rounds from the Metropolitan Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and several representatives from European theaters, including Monte Carlo and of course, L’opera de Lyon.

There have been a lot of singers who have canceled so we heard 46 singers in the two days of preliminary auditions, of whom only six were passed on to the final auditions tomorrow and Sunday.  These were mostly young  singers without management, so the fact that there were only six “interesting” singers to pass on to the next round is not surprising.  These auditions were held in a large rehearsal space used by the Opera de Lyon.

This group of six young artists will join a large group of established artists tomorrow and Sunday, who will all audition for us on stage in the beautiful new Lyon Opera House, designed by the brilliant architect Jean Nouvel to fit inside the shell of the old opera house.

I already know some of the singers who will be auditioning tomorrow, and so the next two days hold a lot of promise.  Our panel of auditors will be augmented by representatives from several other opera houses, including London’s Covent Garden, the Norwegian National Opera, and several German theaters, as well as Diane Zola from Houston Grand Opera.

I have discovered many wonderful singers through these auditions over the last five or six years, and have engaged several of them to make their American debuts with The Dallas Opera.

I certainly hope tomorrow brings some great singers to my attention.

So far we have heard singers from an extraordinary range of countries, including artists from Australia, Germany, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Poland, Romania,  Russia, Spain,Turkey, the U.K. and all across Scandinavia.  There has even been a token American or two…

Keep your fingers crossed…


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