PLNU Alumni Dominate the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Audition

Thursday, October 10, 2013

For the eighth year in a row PLNU students, or recent alums, have won major awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council (MONC) Auditions, held Saturday, October 5th, at Crill Performance Hall on PLNU’s campus.  

Soprano Christen Blair Horne (2012, B.A. Music) and mezzo-soprano Alexandra Rodrick (2011, B.A. Music in Ministry) were named co-winners at the 55th Annual MONC Auditions for the Western Region, San Diego District. Both women were awarded $1000 and will advance to the regional auditions held in Los Angeles on October 26th at the Colburn School of Music’s Zipper Hall.  

Horne, who has won first place and advanced to the Regional Finals twice before, sang last in a program of twenty-eight singers.  She began her audition with a spellbinding performance of Giuletta's aria "O quante volte" from Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi. The panel of internationally recognized adjudicators then requested to hear Gretel's aria "Wo bin ich?" from Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel.  For her performances, Horne also garnered the Lynne Friedmann and Eileen Chatterton Audience Choice Award of $200. 

Horne, 23, took first place in the prestigious Virginia Hawke Scholarship Competition before graduating with honors from PLNU.  She was a student of Associate Professor of Music, John Craig Johnson, D. M. A. and continues to study with him and coach with Ines Irawati, the department’s staff piano-vocal coach. Horne has performed numerous productions and currently sings with the San Diego Opera Chorus and will appear there this year in Verdi’s Requiem.

Joining Horne on the winners' podium was mezzo-soprano Alexandra Rodrick, a classmate of Christen’s who also served as her Maid of Honor in January 2012.  Rodrick was the recipient of two previous MONC awards: the Robert Faulk Memorial Encouragement Award in 2012 and the Dorothy Haugh Greiner Encouragement Award in 2009.  

Rodrick, singing ninth in the lineup of singers, began her audition with an energetic performance of Rosina's aria "Una voce poco fa" from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia.  The adjudicators then requested to hear Octavian’s aria, “Wie du warst” from Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier.  After an exquisite technical display, the adjudicators then asked for yet another piece, this time “What a movie!” from Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. 

Rodrick, 24, also continues to study with Dr. John Craig Johnson and coach with Ines Irawati at PLNU.  This spring she will return for her fourth season as an American Guild of Musical Artists chorus member with San Diego Opera's L’elisir d’amore, Un ballo in mashera, Don Quichotte, I Pagliacci, and Verdi’s Requiem.

Horne's and Rodrick's wins mark the sixth first-place finishes, in addition to twelve encouragement awards given by MONC to current students or recent alumni of PLNU in the past eight years, an outstanding achievement for any undergraduate university.  In addition to the excellent performances from PLNU alums, four current PLNU undergraduate students competed in Saturday’s competition; Michelle Law, Phillip Dannels, Jonathan Lacayo, and Kiana Bell.  

Since 1954, MONC has been holding auditions to discover and help support upcoming opera singers. This year's adjudication panel was comprised of David Gately, Carol Kirkpatrick, and Harry Silverstein.