Iowa sopranos advance at Metropolitan Opera competitions

The Iowa District Committee announced the winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Iowa District), which were held at the Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall in Ames on Saturday, Jan. 5. Four singers – all sopranos from Iowa – were chosen to advance to the Upper Midwest Regional competition in St. Paul on Sunday, Feb. 24.

The following awards of $1,000 each were presented:

  • Karen Barraza, of Clear Lake, is a graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts. Barraza won a Martha-Ellen Tye Career Development Award and also received the Audience Choice Award.
  • Abigail Rethwisch, of Iowa City, was awarded a Martha-Ellen Tye Career Development Award. With degrees from Simpson College and Florida State University, Rethwisch is in the Sante Fe Opera Apprentice Program this year.
  • Kate Pomrenke, of Orange City, holds degrees from Aurora University and Bowling Green State University. Currently at Opera Omaha, Pomrenke won the Clayton and Ruth Swenson Award.
  • Samantha Long, of Johnston, is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and is currently pursuing an advanced degree from Rice University. Long received the Rosanne O’Harra Award.

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions are designed to discover exceptional young talent and assist in their development by providing an opportunity for singers from all over the country to be heard by a representative of the Metropolitan Opera.

Barraza, Rethwisch, Pomrenke and Long will join winners from the four other districts comprising the Upper Midwest Region (Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota-Manitoba and Wisconsin) in competition on Feb. 24 at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota.  There, one singer will be chosen to advance to New York City for musical preparation under the guidance of the Metropolitan Opera’s staff in the National Semifinal Competition when the field will again be narrowed. Ten singers will ultimately compete in the Grand Finals Concert with full orchestra on March 31 on the Met stage.

Left to right: Kaitlin Zardetto, Karen Barraza, Samantha Long, Abigail Rethwisch, Kate Pomrenke and judges Greg Carpenter, Allen Perriello and Ward Holmquist.