The Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions Program is one of the most prestigious competitions for aspiring young opera singers. The contest holds auditions in 14 regions across the United States and Canada, attracting the most talented emerging singers in the field. This year, Annie Rosen ’08 MUS ’12 won first place in the New England Regional Auditions in Boston. Rosen, who currently studies opera at the School of Music, will take the stage at the Met for the next round of the competition, the National Council Auditions, on March 18.
Q When did you start singing opera?
A I attended a singing summer camp when I was 17 and 18, but before that it was mostly choral singing. I started officially singing opera in my sophomore year of college, when my friend Bryan dragged me to audition for an opera that was being put on by the Opera Theater of Yale College. The role I sang for was a male character called The Director, and I basically did the prologue of the show. I got up there, and I sang an aria for about three to four minutes by myself. I had never done anything like that before.
Q How did you get involved with the competition?
A If you’re a young opera singer, you know about the Met competition. There aren’t that many reasons not to do it, because one of the best things about it is that you can receive feedback from the judges. I’ve done it for three years now. The first time, it was my second year out of [college], and I had never really done a competition. I was really nervous. That was how I ended up at Yale’s School of Music, actually, because Doris [Yarick Cross], the head of Yale opera and my voice teacher, came to listen to the district audition. She heard me, she asked me to audition for Yale Opera, and now I’m here!
Q How do you feel about your upcoming performance at the Met in March?
A It’s very much on my mind. I’ve just been trying to stay in the right frame of mind. Opera is not a competition — it’s art. I’m trying to remember that the frame of this is not real; the reality of it is the performance. But not thinking about it is really hard — it’s seductive, you know? But in this competition, and in any competition, what the judges are looking for is simply a performer who has something to say.
Q Where do you like to sing?
A I like singing under the echoey bridges behind Central Park, and in any — and I mean any — shower.
Q What are you working on right now?
A I’m playing Dora Bella in “Cosi Fan Tutti” [opening Friday]. It’s about two sisters, and I’m the younger sister. Our boyfriends decide to test whether we’re faithful to them, so they pretend to go to war and come back as “other men” to seduce us. So we totally fall for it and end up falling in love with the other sister’s boyfriend in the span of 24 hours.
Q If you could choose any opera to star in, what would it be, and why?
A I’m going to give you two answers, and one’s going to be a real answer and one’s going to be a fake answer. Something I could kind of do right now is that I would like to be Romeo in Bellini’s version of “Romeo and Juliet” (“I Capuleti e i Montechhi”). The fake answer is that I want to be Tosca in “Tosca.”
Q What about opera makes it so compelling to you?
A I love the intensity of it. I love that even when it’s really trashy and awful, it’s never trivial. Even when it’s trivial, it’s never trivial. It’s about people living their lives intensely, and crazy and interesting things always result from that. What it expresses and the way it expresses it is not something that can be accomplished with other art forms.