Southeastern graduate wins prestigious Metropolitan Opera competition
Contact: Christina Chapple
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MET AUDITION WINNER – Daveda Karanas, right, a native of Mandeville and 2003 Southeastern Louisiana University graduate, was one of five winners of the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She is shown on the Met stage following the Feb. 24 Grand Finals Concert with, left, Maestro Stephen Lord, Met orchestra conductor, and, center, concert host Patricia Racette, a leading soprano with the Met.
HAMMOND -- Mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas, a 2003 Southeastern Louisiana University graduate, is one of five winners of the Metropolitan Opera 2008 National Council Auditions, considered the most prestigious voice competition in North America for singers seeking to launch an operatic career.
Karanas, a native of Mandeville, advanced to the highly visible national auditions as one of 26 regional finalists after winning the Gulf Coast Region audition (Louisiana, Mississippi and Puerto Rico) in January. Approximately 1,500 singers participated this year in auditions held in 45 districts and 15 regions throughout the United States and Canada.
At the semifinal competition at the Met in New York City, Karanas was one of nine finalists selected to perform at the Feb. 24 Grand Finals Concert on the Met stage. The New York Times described as “formidable” and “gripping” Karanas’ performance of arias by Meyerbeer and Purcell’s “When I Am Laid in Earth” from “Dido and Aeneas."
Karanas' win carried a $15,000 cash prize and the career-boosting prestige of performing with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra on the historic Met stage before an audience of influential members of the music world.
“It was very surreal – an out of body experience,” said Karanas, who is currently under contract to the San Francisco Opera Center, where she is a first-year Adler Fellow. “As you’re singing, you’re looking at the beautiful red velvet and the gold and the gorgeous chandeliers and you realize, ‘I made it, I’m singing on the Met stage.’ It is something I won’t forget.”
Winning the prestigious auditions can be a career door-opener for young singers. According to the Met, past winners include many of today's leading operatic artists and during a typical opera season, more than 100 alumni of the Auditions sing in Met performances.
“I fully expect to see Daveda on the Met stage singing in an opera one day,” said Hammond resident and arts patron Fay Bright, who, along with Karanas’ parents Shari and Bill Karanas of Mandeville and husband Jonathan Brecheen, made the trip to New York City to attend the Met audition finals.
“I had heard Daveda sing at the regional auditions in New Orleans for the first time since she graduated from Southeastern,” Bright said. “That huge fantastic voice just threw me back in my seat.”
“Daveda’s voice has always been a unique and powerful instrument,” said David Evenson, head of the Department of Music and Dramatic Arts. “Her Southeastern instructor Scharmal Schrock predicted she would go far, but she has exceeded all expectations."
“She has achieved a singer's dream -- winning the MET auditions,” said Schrock, who now teaches at Indiana University. “As far as I know, no one from Southeastern has ever achieved this. I'm proud of her and shall enjoy watching her career and hearing her beautiful performances. She has a stunning voice and a wonderful technique. The past four years of further study and maturity have started her on a most exciting career.”
Karanas said her performance experience at Southeastern has been a factor in her success.
“Southeastern is really known for its undergraduate music program,” she said. “A lot of young singers have difficulty getting into a young artist program because they just lack performing experience. I was doing big roles in my undergraduate years. That helped me get into graduate school. The more experience you have the better, and I think that is something that Southeastern really helped me with.”
The next step in Karanas’ career will be her professional debut with the San Francisco Opera next October, when she will sing the role of the nurse in “Boris Godunov.” Last year she sang Tisbe in “La Cenerentola” with the company's Merola Opera Program.
Karanas made her professional debut in 2006 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and since that time has sung Ericlea in “Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria” with Chicago Opera Theater, La Principessa in “Suor Angelica” with Boston University Opera Institute, and Marchesa Melibea in “Il Viaggio a Reims” with the Music Academy of the West.
At Arizona State University, where she received her master's degree in opera performance in 2006, she sang Judith in “Bluebeard's Castle” and Lucretia in “The Rape of Lucretia.”
While a student at Southeastern, where she was the recipient of the James Wilcox Outstanding Senior in Music award, Karanas performed numerous roles, appearing in Opera/Music Theatre Workshop productions of “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” “Annie,” “Oliver!,” “Suor Angelica,” “Die Fledermaus,” “Tartuffe,” and “The Medium.”
In 2001, she studied and performed in Salzburg, Austria, with the University of Miami Summer Program. In Salzburg, she performed opera scenes as the title role in “Carmen” and as Maddalena in Verdi's “Rigoletto.” Karanas also performed as a soloist with many Southeastern ensembles. She was director of musical activities for Southeastern's Omicron Delta Chapter of the professional music fraternity, Delta Omicron, and an instructor in the university's Community Music School.