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Northwestern Senior a Top Award Winner in 2006 Met Opera Auditions

March 28, 2006 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University School of Music senior Paul Corona of Elk Grove Village was one of five Grand Winners selected in the 2006 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Finals Sunday (March 26) in New York City. The 22-year-old bass competed against nine other finalists chosen from an initial pool of 19,000 contestants.

Corona sang “Vi ravviso, a luoghi ameni” from Vincenzo Bellini’s opera “La Sonnambula “ (“The Sleepwalker”) and “La calunnia è un venticello” from Gioacchino Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” (“The Barber of Seville”).

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions is a program designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers. The auditions are held annually in 16 regions in the United States and Canada. There are 50 Districts within these Regions, each providing an opportunity for singers to enter at the local level. Winners of the District auditions advance to their Region Finals where they compete to win a trip to New York to participate in the National Semi-Finals, a competition held on the stage of The Metropolitan Opera. Approximately 10 of the Semi-Finalists are selected as National Finalists, and compete in a public concert where up to five Grand Winners are named who each receive a cash prize of $15,000. The remaining National Finalists receive $5,000 each, and those singers who were National Semi-Finalists, but did not advance to the National Finals, each receive $1,500 to further their studies.

Yesterday’s public concert -- the Grand Finals Concert -- was broadcast nationwide on the Metropolitan Opera Radio Network. The nine finalists were accompanied by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra under the direction of conductor Patrick Summers.

Many of the world’s foremost singers have received awards from the National Council including Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner, Jessye Norman, Samuel Ramey, Frederica von Stade, Deborah Voigt and Dolora Zajick.

Corona, a senior, is pursuing a bachelor of music in vocal performance degree at Northwestern. He is studying with School of Music voice faculty member Bruce Hall.

Corona said, “The week in New York between the semi-final and the final round of the competition was emotionally and vocally the most challenging experience of my life so far. The musical and vocal training at Northwestern really gave me a great foundation and the confidence to walk out on the Met stage and do my best. I had wanted to enter this competition two years ago, but my teacher, Bruce Hall, suggested I wait until I was really ready and able to win. I am so grateful for his advice and support.”

“Paul’s dedication, talent and hard work throughout his four years at Northwestern exemplify the high standards of School of Music students,” said School of Music Dean Toni-Marie Montgomery. “We also recognize the important contribution to Paul’s success by his teacher Bruce Hall. I was proud and honored to represent Northwestern at Sunday’s Finals concert.”

Corona will be one of the Northwestern University School of Music students to perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. on April 30. He will also be stepping into the lead role of Osmin in the Chicago Opera Theater’s spring production of  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” (“The Abduction from the Seraglio”) that will be performed May 3 to 13 at the Harris Theater in Chicago’s Millennium Park. This summer, Corona has been invited to serve as an apprentice artist with the Santa Fe Opera.

His previous accomplishments include an Orchestra Hall debut in 2004 as a soloist with the Apollo Chorus, and numerous awards including the Lola Fletcher Scholarship with the American Opera Society and a North Shore Musicians Club Scholarship.

Corona has performed extensively while at Northwestern, appearing in the operas “The Wise Woman,” “Savitri” and “Le nozze di Figaro,” as well as in the musical theatre productions “Oliver,” “Oklahoma” and “Lil’ Abner.”

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