Arts & Culture

UK Opera Alum Key’mon Murrah to Compete in Operalia

Watch Key'mon Murrah perform Laudamus te from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Mass in C Minor.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 18, 2021) — University of Kentucky graduate Key’mon W. Murrah has been selected to compete in Plácido Domingo's Operalia, The World Opera Competition 2021. Murrah will travel to Moscow, Russia, to compete against classical singers from around the world. The 2021 edition of Operalia will be held in Moscow, Russia, from Oct. 18-24, at the historic Bolshoi Theatre.

Operalia was founded in 1993 by Domingo to discover and help launch the careers of the most promising young opera singers of today. Operalia’s goal is to attract singers between the ages of 18 and 32, of all voice types from and all over the world, to have them audition and be heard by a panel of distinguished international personalities, in one of the most prestigious and competitive showcases in the world.

Key'mon W. Murrah, a countertenor heralded for his wide range and “hot coals-core of tone,” from, is a native of Louisville, Kentucky, and resident of Lexington. He earned his bachelor’s degree in arts administration and minor in vocal performance from UK in 2018, where he studied with Angelique Clay, associate professor of voice with UK Opera Theatre. Murrah has sung in George Frideric Handel’s "Giulio Cesare" with the Red River Lyric Opera and Antonio Vivaldi’s "Montezuma" with the America Baroque Opera Co. In 2020, he toured with the American Spiritual Ensemble and was a young artist at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival.

Each year, Operalia receives hundreds of applications. A pre-selection jury listens to every recording submitted and chooses the top candidates (between 30 and 40) to participate in that year’s competition. The international jury, presided by Domingo, listens to each of the chosen participants during two days of quarterfinals. Twenty participants are then selected to continue to the semifinals, and 10 singers are chosen for the finals.

The quarterfinals and semifinals are carried out in audition form, but the final round is presented in the form of a gala concert accompanied by full orchestra. Participating or even winning a prize in this competition is only the beginning of every singer’s relationship with Operalia. Since the jury is comprised, for the most part, of international opera managers and casting directors, these distinguished jurors often invite and engage some of the singers to perform in productions that are being scheduled in their respective theatres.

In 2018, Murrah won the Encouragement Award for the Metropolitan Opera Council Central (MONC) District Auditions and second place in the Emerging Soloists Competition. In 2020, he won first place in the Camille Coloratura Competition, he was a semifinalist in the MONC Auditions, and in 2021 he took second place at the Rochester Oratorio Society Competition, grand prize winner of the Premiere Opera Foundation + NYIOP International Vocal Competition, and first place winner of the HGO Eleanor McCollum Competition. In 2021, Murrah will be joining the Studio Artist Program at the Florida Grand Opera and singing Bertarido from Handel's "Rodelinda" at the Aspen Music Festival. This fall, he will continue his studies at University of Kentucky, sing Handel's "Messiah" at the Great Bend Center of Music, and make his debut as Orfeo in Christoph Willibald Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice" at Seattle Opera.

UK Opera Theatre is part of the School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts. The school has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, music therapy, composition and theory and music history.

headshot of Key'mon Murrah
Key'mon Murrah

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