Indiana University Newsletter
Indiana University Jacobs School of Music master's student Jamie Barton was named a grand prize winner at the annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions on Sunday (April 1), making her the eighth winner from the IU Jacobs School of Music in the past 10 years.
The award, a coveted recognition of up-and-coming opera stars and a way for the Metropolitan Opera to discover new talent, was previously won by such IU alumni as Sylvia McNair (1982), Elizabeth Futral (1991), Angela Brown (1997), and Larry Brownlee (2001). Other famous singers who were selected as winners include Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner, Jessye Norman, Samuel Ramey, Frederica von Stade, Deborah Voigt and Dolora Zajick.
Mary Ann Hart, professor of music and chair of the Department of Voice at the IU Jacobs School of Music, is not surprised at her student Jamie Barton's success.
"You just cannot mistake Jamie's voice for any other singer. Everyone has a unique sound, but Jamie's timbre seems to extend a mile in every direction; dark and bright, soft and loud, serene and vivacious," Hart says. "The other enormous gift she has is something we call 'The Jamie Thing.' She can draw you into the music with amazing assurance. She also has a great sense of humor, and that infectious humor is appealing to audiences, even people who might be intimidated by a classically trained voice."
Barton's other mentor at IU, associate professor Brian Horne, has a teaching relationship with her that extends to her youth. "My first impression of Jamie, whom I met when she was 13 and I was teaching at Shorter College (Rome, Ga.), was that she had a talent and personality that went well beyond the usual a teacher comes across," said Horne. "I've always thought that Jamie would go far. She has a phenomenal voice, a grounded personality, and a deep sense of appreciation for those around her. I imagine that the Jamie I know in 20 years will be much like the one I met at 13. Her fame won't change that. She is proof that you can live a life of integrity and not step on people to get ahead."
Barton is euphoric from her triumph at the National Council Grand Finals. "This experience has been unreal! The Metropolitan Opera personnel greeted us with such warmth and have been such a pleasure to work with. They have treated us like true honored guests of the Metropolitan Opera, and I hope to someday return and work with such a warm and professional house," she said.
For her winning performance, Barton was accompanied by the Met orchestra and sang "Priva son d'ogni conforto" from Giulio Cesare by G. F. Handel and "Hurr hopp hopp hopp!" from Hänsel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck. The Grand Finals Concert will be broadcast at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, on WFIU (103.7 FM in Bloomington, 95.1 FM in Terre Haute, 100.7 FM in Columbus, 106.1 FM in Kokomo).
A native of Rome, Ga., Barton, 25, has been seen on the Indiana University Opera Theater stage as Tisbe in La Cenerentola, the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel, Buttercup in HMS Pinafore, and Mrs. Soames in the 2006 world premiere of Ned Rorem's Our Town. In recent years, she has worked with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and has also attended Tanglewood Music Center as a fellow in vocal studies. She has worked with artists such as Dawn Upshaw, Alan Smith, Kayo Iwama, Susan Graham and James Levine.
Additional winners this year were tenor Michael Fabiano of Hoboken, N.J.; soprano Angela Meade of Centralia, Wash.; tenor Alek Shrader of Cleveland, Ohio; tenor Ryan Smith of Los Angeles, Calif.; and soprano Amber L. Wagner of Santa Barbara, Calif. Each winner will receive $15,000. Nearly 1,500 singers throughout the United States and Canada participated in this year's competition.
Two additional IU singers made it to the semi-finals this year: mezzo-soprano Lindsay Ammann (a student of Chancellor's Professor of Music Costanza Cuccaro), and alumnus Christopher Bolduc (a student of Distinguished Professor Timothy Noble).
Barton will return to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in the summer of 2007 to cover Katisha in The Mikado and make her professional operatic debut as Annina in La Traviata, and she has also been invited back to Tanglewood Music Center for the summer 2007 season. Barton will sing a solo recital in New York City next season in the recital series The Song Continues, an outgrowth of The Marilyn Horne Foundation's annual masterclasses in which she sang last January.
With a total of 30 voice and opera studies faculty members, the Jacobs School of Music has the largest voice department in any university school of music. It has consistently been ranked as the top voice department in the country. The Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater Program produces seven fully-staged operas each year in the Musical Arts Center, which gives students an opportunity to train for the international world of opera.