Reginald Smith Jr., a studio artist with Houston Grand Opera, and Nicholas "Nick" Brownlee, a former Shepherd School of Music at Rice University student have been named winners of the annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in New York City.
Along with three others, Adams and Brownlee each received $15,000 in prize money. It also recognizes all five finalists as rising stars in the opera world which has to be a boost to their careers. The competition, held across the United States and Canada is designed to discover new talent for the Met and to encourage the best young singers, according to its website.
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Baritone Smith, who we profiled last year in our Houston Creatives series, was singled out by HGO Music and Artistic Director Patrick Summers at last year's Studio Artists performance as someone who was going to be doing great things.
He competed as a representative from the Atlanta, Ga. area, where he grew up. When interviewed by the Press last year, he described his job as: "I sing the best music in the world. And I think that goes for opera music, that goes for art songs. It goes for French, German, Italian, English. I love singing concert works like Beethoven's symphonies. But also doing wonderful things like 'Unforgettable.' I think I have the best job in the world. I get to sing great music and experience wonderful opportunities in new and interesting places and I get paid to do it! "
Smith also said that when his opera career comes to an end someday, he'd like to go into teaching at the high school level to inspire love of the arts.
Brownlee, a bass-baritone, is a Young Artist with the Los Angeles Opera. He attended Rice as a grad student studying with voice teacher Dr. Stephen King.