Monday, March 21, 2011

College of Music Grad Wins Metropolitan Opera Auditions

Excerpt: Ryan Speedo Green sings “La calunnia” in Florida State Opera’s 2009 production of Rossini’s Barber of Seville; this aria is one of two selections that Green performed at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.



College of Music graduate Ryan Speedo Green was selected as one of five winners in the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, held on Sunday, March 13, 2011, in New York. Green and his fellow winners were selected from a pool of more than 1,500 young voices from across the United States who participated in this year’s competition. (See New York Times coverage here.)

Green, who prefers to go by his middle name, Speedo, will receive a cash prize of $15,000, but, more importantly, will benefit from the tremendous amount of exposure associated with this high-profile contest.

Designed to discover new talent amongst promising young opera singers and assist with their career development, the Metropolitan Opera auditions are held annually in fourteen regional areas of the United States and Canada. Singers advance through multiple auditions at district and regional levels before they appear in the final round at the Met, where the judges may choose as few or as many finalists as they like. This year, only eight singers were advanced to the final round of competition; the judges (Sarah Billinghurst (Metropolitan Opera), Jonathan Friend (Metropolitan Opera), Jeremy Geffen (Carnegie Hall), Gayletha Nichols (Metropolitan Opera) and Gianna Rolandi (Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago), selected five winners from those final eight participants.

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions have been held annually since 1954. Given the reach of the auditions, the number of applicants, and the long tradition associated with them, these auditions are considered the most prestigious in North America for singers seeking an operatic career.

“Naturally, we are thrilled that Speedo is a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for 2011,” says Douglas Fisher, Director of Opera Activities at The Florida State University. “It is always gratifying when a student shows such growth and development during his/her studies at FSU and then goes on to enter the professional world. We are very proud of Speedo and everything that he has accomplished, and we expect even bigger and better things for him in the future.”

While the cash prize is a nice bonus, the true reward for participants is the chance to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra before an audience that includes opera company executives, artist managers, music critics, and other opinion-makers of the music world. As a direct result of this competition, participating singers are often invited to join some of the most prestigious young artist programs in the US. Former winners of the National Council Auditions include many of the world’s foremost singers: Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner, Jessye Norman, Samuel Ramey, Frederica von Stade, Deborah Voigt and Dolora Zajick.

College of Music Dean Don Gibson echoes Fisher’s sentiments, and welcomes the attention this will bring to the College’s already prominent Opera program. “To be chosen as a winner in the National Council Auditions presented annually by the Metropolitan Opera is recognition of the highest order for young artist-vocalists. Ryan Speedo Green’s selection as a 2011 winner in these auditions reflects his extraordinary talent as well as his dedication to his art. In addition, his selection speaks directly to the high quality education he received during his Master’s degree work in the Opera Department of the Florida State College of Music. We are delighted for him and for the recognition his selection brings to our top-tier program in Opera.”

A student of David Okerlund, Assistant Professor of Voice, Speedo graduated from The Florida State University in December 2010 with a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance.

“Professionally, Speedo is a very hard working young man that is very driven. He knows his limitations and works tirelessly to overcome them,” commented Okerlund. “Speedo was a very busy young man during his Master’s degree at FSU. He was involved in every production except for one, as well as singing Raphael in Haydn’s Creation for the Tallahassee Community Chorus. During his time at FSU, Speedo showed a great deal of growth vocally, personally and professionally. There were occasional struggles, but never was there a time when he succumbed to the difficulties and challenges.”

Of his prospects, Okerlund went on to add that, “Though winning any competition is not a guarantee of having a career, winning the Met competition puts Speedo in a very good position. As a result of his win, he has been approached by several managers and is in discussions with two of the most prestigious young artist programs in the United States.”




The College of Music would like to congratulate Speedo on his continued success:


 - On Friday, April 1st, 2011, Speedo sang for James Levine, artistic director of the Metropolitan Opera. Within minutes of leaving the stage, Speedo received a call offering him a position within the Lindemann Young Artist Program at the Metropolitan Opera.

The Lindemann Young Artist Program is renowned world-wide as the most prestigious young artist program for opera singers today. Founded by Maestro Levine in 1980, the Program provides specialized training in music, language, and movement from the Met's own staff as well as invited master teachers, funds private lessons with approved teachers from outside the Met, and provides participants access to rehearsals for all Metropolitan Opera productions.


 - On Tuesday, April 26th, Speedo was notified that he had also received the Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. The Sara Tucker Study Grant provides grants to singers, selected through a vocal competition, who have recently graduated from university or conservatory and considered to be at the beginning of promising careers.


- On May 19, 2011 the New York Times ran a story about the National Council Auditions ("An American Idol Just For Opera") featuring Speedo; the article and and accompanying video are available here.


Congratulations, Speedo!