Arts & Culture

UK Opera Student Chases Dreams at Met Opera Auditions

headshot photo of Taylor Comstock
black and white headshot photo of Key'mon W. Murrah
headshot photo of Michael Pandolfo
headshot photo of Maggie Smith

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 27, 2018) University of Kentucky Opera Theatre vocalist and first-year graduate student Taylor Comstock emerged as the sole winner of the Kentucky District Auditions of the Metropolitan (Met) Opera National Council Auditions held Nov. 17, at the Singletary Center for the Arts. Additionally, three other UK vocalists, alumni Key’mon Murrah, Michael Pandolfo and Maggie Smith, received the competition's Encouragement Awards.

Taylor Comstock, of Independence, Missouri, has had great success as an emerging opera vocalist. He is a previous recipient of the district auditions’ Encouragement Award in 2016 and a winner of the Kentucky District Auditions in 2017. And in March, he came in second in the graduate division of the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition. During his undergraduate work at UK, he appeared as Alfredo in “La Traviata” and as Conte Almaviva in “The Barber of Seville.”

Comstock will go on to compete in the Central Region round of the auditions Jan. 20, at DePaul University in Chicago, for a chance to sing on the Metropolitan Opera stage. He will compete against 10 vocalists from districts in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. If he is successful in Chicago, he will compete in the national semifinals of the competition on the Metropolitan Opera stage in New York. Traditionally, only one singer from each regional round will advance to the national semifinals.

Of the 28 vocalists who competed in the competition a total of four vocalists received Encouragement Awards. Three UK graduates including, countertenor Key’mon Murrah, from Louisville, Kentucky; baritone Michael Pandolfo, of Fort Worth, Texas; and soprano Maggie Smith, of Louisville, took home one of these honors. Soprano Alexandra Bork of Nicholasville, Kentucky, also won an Encouragement Award.

The highly acclaimed UK Opera Theatre program is part of the School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts. For more information on the program, visit online at

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions program provides a venue for young opera singers from all over the U.S. to be heard by a representative of the Met. Applicants prepare a minimum of five operatic arias in their original language; selections must demonstrate contrasting style as well as languages. Upon completing the audition, candidates are given the opportunity to meet with the judges personally to discuss matters of evaluation and advice.

The Met holds the auditions to discover new talent and to search for possible participants in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. The Lindemann program, designed to nurture the most talented young artists through training and performance opportunities, provides financial aid together with supervised artistic direction to the young artists.

The district level is the first stage of the three-tiered audition process, and contestants can choose to compete in any district regardless of their place of residence. There is no set number of singers to advance to compete in the regional with roughly 1,500 singers participating each year in the 16 regions across the country. Winners at the regional advance to the National Council Auditions Semi-Finals in New York in the spring. Ten or less singers are selected as national finalists and perform in the Winners Concert at the Met.

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