On Oct. 5, soprano Christen Blair Horne (’12) and mezzo-soprano Alexandra Rodrick (’11) won first place awards in the 55th annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for the Western Region, San Diego District. This is the eighth year in a row that PLNU students or recent alumni have won major awards from the Metropolitan National Council Auditions. Horne’s and Rodrick’s wins mark the fifth and sixth first-place finishes, in addition to thirteen encouragement awards, given by MONC to current students or recent alumni of PLNU in the past eight years. Horne and Rodrick also represent the only winners chosen from San Diego.
“It’s an outstanding achievement for any undergraduate university program,” said PLNU associate professor of music John Craig Johnson, D.M.A.
The auditions were held on PLNU’s campus in Crill Performance Hall. Horne and Rodrick were each awarded $1,000 and will advance to the regional auditions held in Los Angeles on October 26 at the Colburn School of Music’s Zipper Hall.
Both Horne and Rodrick were students of Johnson and continue to study with him and coach with Ines Irawati, the PLNU music department’s staff piano-vocal coach. Horne previously took first place in the prestigious Virginia Hawke Scholarship Competition before graduating with honors from PLNU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music. Rodrick earned her Bachelor of Arts in music and ministry.
This is Horne’s third first place award and third time advancing to the regional finals. This year, Horne also garnered the Lynne Friedmann and Eileen Chatterton Audience Choice Award of $200 for her stirring performances of Giuletta’s aria “O quante volte” from Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi and Gretel’s aria “Wo bin ich?” from Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel.
Horne has performed a variety of roles, including “Valencienne” in Point Loma Opera Theatre’s production of Die Lustige Witwe, “Blanche” in Dialogues des Carmelites, and “Nella” in Gianni Schicchi with Opera Academy of California in San Francisco. With PLOT, she has also sung “Arminda” in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera, the title roles in Cendrillon and Dido and Aeneas, and “Papagena” in Die Zauberflöte. Horne also sings with the San Diego Opera Chorus and will appear there this year in Verdi’s Requiem.
Rodrick is 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 sang Rosina’s aria “Una voce poco fa” from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, Octavian’s aria, “Wie du warst” from Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, and “What a movie!” from Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti.
Rodrick was most recently seen with Wolf Trap Opera as “Flora” in their main stage production of Verdi’s La Traviata. She also appeared there in the 2012 season in productions of Rake’s Progress and Don Giovanni, study-covering the role of “Elvira.” She was one of two mezzo-sopranos chosen to be a member of the highly selective Wolf Trap Studio Artists, working with leading directors, coaches, and teachers in the field of opera. This spring she will return for her fourth season as an AGMA chorus member with San Diego Opera’s L’elisir d’amore, Un ballo in mashera, Don Quichotte, I Pagliacci, and Verdi’s Requiem.
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.
PLNU was also represented by four other undergraduate singers: soprano Michelle Law, mezzo-soprano Kiana Bell, and tenors Phillip Dannels and Jonathan Lacayo. No awards were given to undergraduate singers this year. All four of the 2013 encouragement award winners have completed degrees in music and most are in graduate school or have finished graduate programs, according to Johnson.
MONC Award History for PLNU Students/Alums
2006 Elda Peralta (’06) Encouragement Award
2007 Elda Peralta (’06) Encouragement Award
2008 Jackie Hayes (’09) *Encouragement Award to first currently enrolled undergrad from PLNU
2009 Christian Sanders (’11), Alex Rodrick (’11), Austin Thompson (’11) Encouragement Awards
2010 Christian Sanders (’11), Austin Thompson (’11), Vlad Bgatov (’11), Elisa Jordan (’11) Encouragement Awards
2011 Austin Thompson (’11) Two Encouragement Awards, Karin Copely (’09) First Place, Christen Horne (’12) First Place, Christian Sanders (’11) First Place (CO-WY District)
2012 Christen Horne (’12) First Place, Alex Rodrick (’11) Encouragement Award
2013 Christen Horne (’12) First Place, Alex Rodrick (’11) First Place