Arts & Culture

4 UK Opera Theatre Vocalists Recognized at District Met Auditions, 2 Advance to Regional

2020 Kentucky District Metropolitan Opera audition winners
banner of photos of the 5 Encouragement Award winners at the 2020 Kentucky District Metropolitan Opera auditions

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 16, 2020) Two University of Kentucky Opera Theatre alumni vocalists, Kendra Beasley and William Clay Thompson, were among the four winners of the Kentucky District Auditions of the Metropolitan (Met) Opera National Council Auditions held virtually Nov. 8.

Beasley, a mezzo-soprano from Madison, Georgia, who earned her master's degree in May from UK, and Thompson, a bass from Lexington, are still in the running to sing on the Metropolitan Opera stage. Their next audition will be the Central Region competition March 21. Each winner received a $1,000 cash prize. Joining the UK alumni will be fellow district winners Hayley Maloney, a soprano from Clifford, Pennsylvania, and Ethan Vincent a baritone from Kansas City, Missouri. This will be the second time Thompson has advanced to the regional competition, after his initial district win in 2013. Traditionally, only one singer from each regional round will advance to the national semifinals.

Five encouragement awards were also announced at the district competition, including two awarded to UK Opera Theatre students. Michael Pandolfo, a baritone from Fort Worth, Texas, who earned his bachelor's degree from UK in 2018, received the Myra Tobin Encouragement award. Current UK doctoral student Wagner Pástor, a tenor from Quito, Ecuador, received the Sylvia Davis Encouragement award. Each encouragement award winner was also presented with a $250 cash prize.

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 four arias for the competition. After being invited into the virtual audition room, singers typically begin with their choice from their four arias. The judges then chose a second for the singer to perform. After completing the audition, candidates are given the opportunity to meet with the judges to receive feedback and advice.

The 2020 National Council Auditions took place virtually in 30 districts, each with the capacity to host 20 singers, all of whom had succeeded during an initial online qualifying audition. Nineteen singers competed in the Kentucky District Auditions. Winners at the regional level advance to the National Council Auditions Semi-Finals in New York in the spring.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.