Three Simpson Grads Advance in National Opera Auditions

It has been a very good week for the Simpson College music department.

Three recent graduates – Abby Rethwisch, ’11, Chris Carr, ’10, and Shannon Prickett, ’09 – have advanced to the regional round in the prestigious Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions.

And Rethwisch, a 22-year-old soprano from Iowa City, has been admitted to the 2012 Des Moines Metro Opera Apprenticeship Program. She graduated in December.

“This is an opportunity afforded usually to only the most talented graduate students and young professional singers from all over the United States,” said Bernard McDonald, Simpson’s director of opera.

The National Council Auditions is the Metropolitan Opera’s annual search for promising young talent. Three performers advance from each district site.

Rethwisch and Prickett, a soprano from Burlingon who is now in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, participated this weekend at the Iowa district auditions in Ames.

“They were hands down the clear winners,” said Michael Egel, artistic director for the Des Moines Metro Opera and one of the judges.

Carr, a baritone from Quasqueton, competed in the Missouri district. He’s now in graduate school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Rethwisch and Prickett will next compete in the regional auditions in Minneapolis, while Carr advances to Tulsa.

As many as 24 regional winners from throughout the country will be invited to the national semi-finals in New York City. The next step is the stage of the Met.

Dr. Kimberly Roberts, assistant professor of music, was the vocal coach at Simpson for all three students.

“It’s terrific,” she said. “Most of the winners are normally in their late 20s. It’s very rare to see someone move on to the regionals at the age of 22 or 23.

“It’s great for them to get their names out there and for people to get them on their radar.”