Boston Conservatory Student Michaela Wolz Takes Home Grand Prize at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions
On March 31, nine talented finalists took the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, singing for a chance to claim one of opera’s most prestigious accolades—to be named a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Among them was Boston Conservatory at Berklee student and mezzo-soprano Michaela Wolz (B.M. '17, voice, M.M. '19, opera), who was named one of five winners after a thrilling performance of “Addio, addio, o miei sospiri” from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and “Que fais-tu, blanche tourterelle?” from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.
Along with the priceless gratification of being recognized for their talent and hard work by the best in the business, Wolz and her fellow winners each walked away with a $15,000 cash prize.
“Performing on the Met stage has been a dream of mine since I started singing opera, but I didn't realize how soon that dream would come true,” Wolz explains. “When they announced my name, there was a huge release of the hours and hours of hard work, doubts, and negative emotions, and I could not stop crying. It was so rewarding because I have never put so much work into anything in my life.”
Wolz was one of hundreds of hopefuls who entered the intense, four-round competition in January. After winning at the district level in her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, and at the Midwest Regional level in Little Rock, Arkansas, she joined 20 other singers from around the country at the semifinals in New York City. Upon advancing to the grand finals, Wolz and her colleagues spent a week rehearsing and coaching with Metropolitan Opera staff and orchestra to prepare for an exhilarating public concert, hosted by Grammy Award–winning countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and featuring guest artist and former National Council winner Christian Van Horn.
During her time at Boston Conservatory, Wolz has performed major roles in productions of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters, Handel’s Alcina, and Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. Most recently, she appeared as Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Mère Marie in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites.
Wolz credits her Conservatory teachers, in particular Rebecca Folsom, Johnathon Pape, Michael Strauss, and Andrew Altenbach, with being so generous with their time in preparing her for the competition, through hours of lessons and vocal and dramatic coachings. Folsom, her primary voice teacher, is “elated beyond belief” for Wolz's achievement: “She is my first student to win at this level and I am so proud of her drive, work ethic, courage, and overall determination. She is well on her way to a successful career in opera and I am so happy that I could be a part of her journey.”
Winning the National Council Auditions has been an important stepping stone towards an illustrious career for many of the most renowned opera stars performing today; Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Samuel Ramey, and Sondra Radvanovsky all claim the title. After advancing to the National Council Auditions Grand Finals in 2017, Boston Conservatory alumna Gabriella Reyes (B.M. '16, voice) was invited to join the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Soon after, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as the High Priestess in Verdi’s Aida, and returned as Nella in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi—alongside opera giant Plácido Domingo—and as the First Lady in The Magic Flute. The most recent Boston Conservatory alumnus to win the top honor at the 2012 National Council Auditions, tenor Matthew Grills (B.M. '10, voice), currently enjoys a prolific operatic and concert career with companies worldwide, including the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.
After she graduates this coming May, Wolz plans to return to St. Louis for the summer to perform the role of Amore in Monteverdi's L’incoronazione di Poppea with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She hopes that her National Council win will continue to open doors to new opportunities, but for now will simply allow herself to enjoy the moment. “When I heard my music played by the incredible Met orchestra, I was finally able to take a deep breath and really take in how amazing the opportunity was," Wolz reflects. "It was a beautiful experience and I wish I could do it again today.”