Singers compete in opera 'Idol'

Met Semi-Finalists
Kyle Albertson, Cory Renbarger and Tom McNichols are on their way to New York City for the Metropolitan Opera's National Council Audition Semifinals.
MPR Photo/Karl Gehrke

Three locally-based singers are off to New York City this weekend for the next step in what has been described as the "American Idol" of the opera world.

Baritone Kyle Albertson, bass-baritone Cory Renbarger and bass Tom McNichols each won first place in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for the Upper Midwest Region last month in Minneapolis, and qualified to compete in the semifinal round at the Met on Sunday, Feb. 17.

The three will compete with some 25 other semifinalists from around the country. Winners of the semifinal round will sing with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at the National Grand Finals concert on Feb. 24.

The stated purpose of the auditions is to identify young singers with the greatest potential for a career, rather than those who are most polished and professional.

While the auditions don't guarantee an opera career, approximately 100 former audition participants have appeared in Metropolitan Opera productions.

Albertson, Renbarger and McNichols are each singers with professional experience. Albertson is a resident artist with the Minnesota Opera. Renbarger has sung with the Florida Grand Opera and has been a resident artist with Dayton Opera and Cleveland Lyric Opera. Tom McNichols is currently a member of the vocal group Cantus.

Before leaving for New York City, the three stopped by the Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser studio to talk with Minnesota Public Radio host John Birge about their hopes for this weekend, and to share the vocal skills they want judges to notice.

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