Houston – April 3, 2019—Three members of Houston Grand Opera’s prestigious Studio program were named the 2019 winners at the 65th annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Five winners were chosen, each receiving a $15,000 cash prize. This announcement came after a months-long series of auditions involving more than 1,000 singers at the district, regional and national levels.
The three HGO Studio Artists and their hometowns are:
- Thomas Glass, 28, baritone (Rocky Mountain Region: Edina, Minnesota) – current HGO Studio member
- William Guanbo Su, 24, bass (Eastern Region: Beijing, China) – upcoming HGO Studio member
- Elena Villalón, 21, soprano (Central Region: Austin, Texas) – upcoming HGO Studio member
Thomas Glass is a second-year Studio Artist at Houston Grand Opera, where he sang Marcello in Puccini’s La Bohème and Álvaro in Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas. Last season at HGO, he performed Baron Douphol in Verdi’s La Traviata, Fiorello in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Officer Krupke in Bernstein’s West Side Story, and outdoor performances of Figaro in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He was previously a Filene young artist at Wolf Trap Opera, giving his debuts as Mercutio in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette and as the baritone soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the National Symphony Orchestra. He was also a participant in the Merola Opera Program, where he was featured in the Schwabacher Summer Concert.
William Guanbo Su is currently pursuing his master’s degree at the Juilliard School. He was recently awarded second prize at the Eleanor McCollum Competition “Concert of Arias” and will be joining the Houston Grand Opera Studio as a young artist next season. This year he returns to the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist. He was previously a fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, where he sang Don Basilio in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Other roles include Pluton in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, Herr Reich in Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Seneca in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea. He recently made his Carnegie Hall solo debut with The Cecilia Chorus of New York.
Elena Villalón joins Houston Grand Opera’s Studio Artist program in the 2019-2020 season, after being a finalist and winning the audience prize in the 31st annual Eleanor McCollum Competition. She has been a vocal fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and at Houston Grand Opera’s Young Artist Vocal Academy. Upcoming performances include Adele in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), Barbarina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist, and a return to the Tanglewood Music Center as a soprano fellow. Previous appearances at CCM include Lucy in Menotti’s The Telephone, and Miss Wordsworth in Britten’s Albert Herring.
The Houston Grand Opera Studio is one of the most respected young artist programs in the country. For more than 40 years, it has served promising singers and pianist/coaches, providing a bridge between full-time training and full-fledged operatic careers. During a residency of up to three years, each performer receives customized training from an expert team while gaining invaluable performance experience at the highest level.
The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions is a program designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers. The Auditions take place in 41 Districts and 12 Regions throughout the United States and Canada, all run locally by volunteers.
About Houston Grand Opera
Houston Grand Opera (HGO) is one of the largest, most innovative, and most highly acclaimed opera companies in the United States. HGO is the only American finalist for Opera Company of the Year in the 2019 International Opera Awards. In fulfilling its mission to advance the operatic art to serve an ever-evolving audience, HGO has led the field in commissioning new works (66 world premieres to date) and in training and nurturing promising young artists and administrators. The company contributes to the cultural enrichment of Houston and the nation through a diverse and innovative program of performances, community events, and education projects that reaches the widest possible public. HGO’s pioneering community engagement initiative, HGOco, has served as a model for other arts organizations.
The NEXUS Initiative is HGO’s multi-year ticket underwriting program that allows Houstonians of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy opera without the barrier of price. Since 2007, NEXUS has enabled more than 250,000 Houstonians to experience superlative opera through discounted single tickets and subscriptions, subsidized student performances, and free productions.
HGO has toured extensively and has won a Tony, two Grammy awards, and three Emmy awards. It is the only opera company to win all three honors.