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MA Top 30 Professional of the Year: Melissa Wegner
By John Fleming
December 3, 2019
Melissa Wegner has heard countless young opera singers do their best to make an impression. As executive director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Wegner will hear, and judge, up to 250 singers audition at the district and regional levels, and then in the semi-finals and grand finals concert (March 1) at the Met. Does she tire of hearing the same arias over and over?
“Never,” she says. “Each time it’s a new singer, and that singer has an opportunity to express that piece as only they can. That’s what this entire tradition is all about. Someone singing ‘O mio babbino caro’ and making it so memorable that their voice stays with you after the day is done.”
A double major in voice and music business at SUNY Potsdam, with graduate degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and Bard College, Wegner performed as a soprano throughout the U.S. and Europe. She was a supertitle associate at New York City Opera, and still does titles on a freelance basis (a favorite project was Jordi Savall’s The Routes of Slavery). A frequent judge at voice competitions, she is a faculty member of Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute and much in demand for master classes at conservatories. Responsible for casting workshops in the Met’s opera commissioning program, she is a casting consultant for the new Ricky Ian Gordon/Lynn Nottage chamber opera Intimate Apparel, which opens at the Lincoln Center Theater in March.
Many great singers got their start in the Met’s National Council Auditions, and Wegner is acutely aware that she is in a unique position. “I feel that I have a responsibility to give back to young singers as well as being the one who is making decisions that might affect their career. That being said, I also have a realistic outlook on the industry and know that I’m not here to make or break anyone’s career. But I help any way I can when it’s a young singer that I really believe in.”
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