By Francisco Salazar (staff@latinospost.com) | First Posted: Feb 28, 2013 05:04 PM EST

Angela Meade as Leonora in Verdi's "Il Trovatore."
Taken during the performance on January 16, 2013 at the Metropolitan Opera. (Photo : Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

The Metropolitan Opera announced the semi finalists to the National Council Auditions.

The semi-finalists with the regions they will represent in the competition and their hometowns are: Matthew Anchel, bass (Eastern Region; New York, NY); Michael Brandenburg, tenor (Central Region; Austin, IN); Brandon Cedel, bass-baritone (Middle Atlantic Region; Hershey, PA); Tracy Cox, soprano (Western Region; Dallas, TX); William Davenport, tenor (Middle Atlantic Region; Rockville, MD); Hye Jung Lee, soprano (Gulf Coast Region; Seoul, South Korea); Juan José de León, tenor (Great Lakes Region; Corpus Christi, TX); Christopher Lowrey, countertenor (New England Region; Johnston, RI); Sydney Mancasola, soprano (New England Region; Redding, CA); Felicia Moore, soprano (Eastern Region; Princeton, NJ); Edward Nelson, baritone (Mid-South Region; Los Angeles, CA); Musa Ngqungwana, bass-baritone (Middle Atlantic Region; Port Elizabeth, South Africa); Richard Ollarsaba, bass-baritone (Upper Midwest Region; Tempe, AZ); Rebecca Pedersen, soprano (Rocky Mountain Region; Bountiful, UT); Thomas Richards, bass-baritone (Central Region; Burnsville, MN); Efrain Solis, baritone (Western Region; Santa Ana, CA); Jessica Strong, soprano (Northwest Region; Winnipeg, Manitoba); Karen Vuong, soprano (Eastern Region; Los Angeles, CA); Benjamin Werley, tenor (Midwest Region; Pittsburgh, PA); Melinda Whittington, soprano (Southeast Region; Charlotte, NC).

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They will arrive at the Met on Feb. 28 to rehearse with the company's staff for two days to prepare for the semi-finals competition on March 3rd. The winners of that event will head over to the Grand Finals Concert accompanied by the Met Orchestra on March 10th. The finalists will have 10 days to prepare for the concert.

The winner of the competition will receive $15,000 and the chance to perform with the Metropolitan Opera. Additionally they will be seen by opera company executives, artist managers, and music critics. Bass-Baritones Eric Owens will host and perform on March 10th.

The National Council Auditions are known for launching the careers of many great artists such as Renee Fleming, Samuel Ramey, Dolora Zajick, Susan Graham, Deborah Voigt, Angela Meade, and Thomas Hampson. The competition was documented in a film entitled "The Audition" directed Susan Fromeke. 

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