California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) senior Anthony Moreno recently received an Encouragement Award at the Western Regional Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Moreno, a baritone on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree in music with an emphasis in opera performance in 2013, qualified for the regional finals after being selected one of four semi-finalists at the San Diego district auditions at Point Loma Nazarene University.
“I feel really honored to have been given an Encouragement Award. This is an incredibly competitive competition,” Moreno said. “There were so many talented singers at the regional finals, and I'm sure they have been singing twice as long as I have, so to stand tall and sing proud alongside L.A. Opera Young Artists and other great young singers was a testament to all the hard work I've done and to the music programs and teachers from El Camino College and the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSULB.”
Designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions are held annually in 15 regions of the United States and Canada. Winners of the district auditions advance to their regional finals where they compete to win a trip to New York to participate in the national semifinals, a competition held on the stage of The Metropolitan Opera.
Many of the world’s foremost singers, including Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner, Jessye Norman, Samuel Ramey, Frederica von Stade, Deborah Voigt and Dolora Zajick, have received awards from the National Council. Approximately 100 former auditioners appear annually in Metropolitan Opera productions.
Moreno said he believes the Encouragement Award is a way for the judges to tell singers that they are on the right track. “The people that won had so much more experience in terms of vocal training and performances on stage, so they are closer to being ‘professionals’ in the minds of the judges,” he said. “The Encouragement Award seems to say, ‘Just keep doing what you're doing and the only thing left is time.’”
Moreno noted that there are monetary prizes that are awarded, but the main benefits are the exposure, networking and chance to learn from those who they one day might be working with.
“One of the greatest advantages to doing this competition is that you get to meet the judges afterwards and discuss what they liked and what to improve,” Moreno explained. “They said that I had a great voice, but needed time to solidify all that I was learning. Again, I believe this was their way of saying that I’m on the right track. It’s great motivation to know you’re doing well and it makes me want to work all the harder.”
One reason Moreno chose CSULB for his degree was the quality of the faculty members he found here. “My voice teacher, Shigemi Matsumoto, is a member of the faculty at CSULB,” he explained. “Also, after meeting with Dr. Jonathan Talberg and Dr. David Anglin, who head the Vocal, Choral and Opera departments, it was clear to me that Long Beach was a nurturing school where a student could grow under the guidance of an all-around great faculty.
“Lastly, the other students are absolutely wonderful to work with,” he added. “They are incredibly supportive, and in a profession that can get competitive and at times ugly, it’s good to know that your peers want you to succeed. I appreciate them so much and I try to return all the support in kind. And of course, many of us would not be here were it not for the blessings given to us by the lovely Mrs. Regena Cole. Long Beach offers so much and I savor every day that I am a part of it.”