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Idaho State University Welcomes the Metropolitan Opera

Idaho State University Welcomes the Metropolitan Opera


Idaho State University will once again host the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions on Nov. 5 at 10 a.m. in the Joseph E. and Cheryl H. Jensen Grand Concert Hall in the L.E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center. This is the 5th year that ISU will be hosting the Idaho/Montana District Auditions.

Every year, renowned singers, coaches and directors from across the country travel to Pocatello to judge the district auditions. This year will feature pianist Thomas Bagwell, soprano Ruth Golden and tenor Richard Leech. Bagwell has performed in New York's Carnegie Hall, London's Wigmore Hall, the Musikverein, the Concertgebouw and numerous halls across the United States and Canada. He was an assistant conductor for the Metropolitan Opera for nine seasons and also served at the Washington National Opera, the Santa Fe Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Bagwell received degrees from the Mannes School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, and has studied with Warren Jones, Graham Johnson and Edna Golandsky. After his formal studies, Bagwell pursued additional training with Elly Ameling and Rudolf Jansen at the Academie Villecroze in France.

Before joining the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, Golden taught at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, the Long Island University at the C.W. Post campus and the Bard College Conservatory of Music Graduate Program. She has served on the faculties of the Academy of Vocal Arts and the Bard College Conservatory of Music program. She has worked with singers as a guest master teacher at the Glimmerglass Opera, The Julliard School, SongFest, the North Carolina School for the Arts, the Chautauqua Institution, the University of Southern California, Eeh Wah University in Seoul and the University of California. Golden has performed in 35 of 50 U.S. states, the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, Orchestra Pasdeloup in Paris, Chartres and Rheims, the Prague Philharmonic in Prague and the Orchestra Royale of Madrid in Madrid and Lisbon.

Leech has sung nearly 200 Met performances in a dozen leading roles. He debuted in the Metropolitan Opera in 1987 as Rodolfo in “La Bohème.” Since then, he has performed everywhere from Vienna to La Scala to Paris to Covent Garden he has been a frequent guest with many major opera houses around the world. In 2015, Leech was named Director of Resident Artist Programs with the Michigan Opera Theatre, where he created and heads their Young Artist Program. He is a member of the voice and opera faculty of Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and the Rutgers Opera Institute. Leech attended Eastman School of Music and Binghamton University, and credits his success to the training he received under the mentorship of Peyton Hibbitt and the late Carmen Savoca at Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, New York.

Aspiring singers who hope to become the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Winners must compete in four rounds of auditions. The first level of the competition will be held in 42 Districts throughout the United States, in addition to one district in Canada and one district in Puerto Rico. The winners of the Districts advance to one of the 12 Region Finals. Both District and Regional auditions take place from October through February. Approximately 20 Region first place winners receive a cash prize and are sponsored to go to New York for the National Council Auditions semifinals in March. There, approximately eight to 10 semifinalists will sing in a closed competition, accompanied by piano on the Met stage, for a place as a National Council Auditions Finalist. The finalists will then perform at the Grand Finals Concert on March 19 on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, and approximately four to six singers will be selected as National Council Auditions Winners. The winners will each receive a $15,000 prize and invaluable exposure.        

The competition is open to the public, and audience members will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite performer. On Nov. 6, the weekend will finish with a masterclass featuring ISU music majors working with tenor Richard Leech in the Marshall Rotunda beginning at 10 a.m. The masterclass with Leech is free and open to the public. Tickets for the competition on Nov. 5 are $8 for adults, $6 for faculty and staff, $4 for pre-college students and free for ISU students.

If you are interested in volunteering for the auditions or contributing to the Met Endowment contact Diana Livingston Friedley, or (208) 282-2611.


Written by: Dr. Diana Livingston Friedley, Professor of Music and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Music


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Pocatello, Idaho, 83209
(208) 282-4636

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