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Bienen School Student, Alumnus Co-Winners of Opera Region Auditions

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November 20, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Soprano Samantha Barnes, a Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music graduate student, and countertenor Ryan Belongie, a Bienen School alumnus who received a bachelor of music degree in voice and opera in 2002, were co-winners of the 2008 Metropolitan Opera National Council Central Region Auditions.

Barnes is a student of Sunny Joy Langton, assistant professor of voice. Belongie studied with Karen Brunssen, associate professor of voice for eight years, and had additional studies with Professor Langton.

Both vocalists will proceed to the 2009 National Semi-Finals that will be held Feb. 15 on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

The success of Barnes and Belongie means that four Bienen School students have been national semi-finalists in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions during the past four years. In 2006, baritone Matthew Hanscom took first place in the Central Region auditions. In 2005, bass Paul Corona won the Central Region auditions and went on to become a Grand Winner.

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 17 regions in the United States and Canada. Regional winners proceed to New York to participate in the National Semi-Finals. Approximately 10 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. Those singers who were national semi-finalists, but did not advance to the National Finals, each receive $1,500 to further their studies.