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The Times-Picayune

Laura Rey: Soprano From Puerto Rico Wins Met's Gulf Coast Regional Finals; National Semifinals Next For 22-Year-Old

By Keith Marshall

February 17, 2003
Copyright © 2003
The Times-Picayune. All rights reserved. 

A 22-year-old soprano from San Juan, Puerto Rico, won first place and $6,000 in the Gulf Coast Regional Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Sunday at Roussel Hall on the Loyola University campus.

Laura Rey impressed judges with her renditions of "Bel raggio lusinghier" from Rossini's "Semiramide" and "Ach ich fuhl's" from Mozart's "Die Zauberflote" -- the first her own selection, the second a choice judges made from a list of five pieces that Rey, like the other competitors, had submitted in advance. Rey will now proceed to the national semifinals in New York on March 30 and the possibility of winning prizes of up to $15,000 in the finals and a contract with the Met. The finals will be broadcast live from the stage of the Met on April 6.  

Baritone Jon Truitt of Hammond placed second with his selections of "Avant de quitter ces lieux" from Gounod's "Faust" and "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's "Il Barbieri di Siviglia," and received $3,000.

LaToya Lain of New Orleans was one of two contestants who tied for third place and awards of $2,000. Lain won with her selections of "Cara sposa" from Handel's "Rinaldo" and "Lullaby " from Menotti's "The Consul." Fabian Robles of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, won judges' favor with "Una furtive lagrima" from Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'Amore" and "Si, ritrovarla io giuro" from Rossini's "La Cenerentola."

Contestants who received either honorable mention awards of $600 or encouragement awards of $300 included Francis Courtenay, Jose Hernandez, Timothy Kennedy and Angela Mannino of Louisiana; Melliangee Perez-Maldonado and Juan Carlos Rodriguez of Puerto Rico; and Bryce Smith of Mississippi

Judges for the competition were Lenore Rosenberg of the Metropolitan Opera; Lofti Mansouri, general manager emeritus of San Francisco Opera; and Susan Ashbaker of the Opera Company of Philadelphia.

"You are allowed to be disappointed but not discouraged," Rosenberg told the contestants after the awards had been distributed. "There's the interstate, and there are back roads. Sometimes there's a traffic jam on the interstate, and those who take the back road get there first. That's how you must think today."

Although Rey is on the interstate now, she has been working diligently to get into the fast lanes.

"I began my music studies at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico when I was 16, but I always sang," Rey said. "I'm finishing my senior year at the conservatory, preparing to audition for my master's degree. Now I must think about the competition at the Met. I'm so excited; I never expected to win today. Another contestant turned to me after all the other awards had been given out and said, 'You've won; you've won,' and I still couldn't believe it."

Rey said opera is her main focus right now, but she also sings popular music. "I have a CD out now, and I'm also a songwriter for a lot of Latin artists. I love to be involved in all aspects of the music business, and now I'm going to New York. It's a dream come true for me."

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