Being accepted to the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program is both prestigious and difficult.
Most young singers go through multiple rounds of competition before becoming a finalist of the Metropolitan Opera competitions. And even the winner of the Met contest will find that it's only a qualifying factor not a guarantee of being accepted as a Lindemann Young Artist.
But one Utahn has made it, and she did so via an unusual route.
Ginger Costa-Jackson spent the summer in Italy, participating in a slew of vocal competitions. "I happened to meet Lenore Rosenberg at the Ottavio Ziino competition," said Costa-Jackson, "and she is the artistic director of the Lindemann Young Artists' Program.
"After hearing me, she thought that I had a lot of talent. She was very excited about my voice and very taken by my young age and the darkness of the (vocal) color. She extended an invite to me to come to New York to audition for James Levine, to see if he would accept me into the program.
"It's not how they normally do it. I skipped all those steps. They just had me directly singing for James Levine."
Levine, she said, had a busy schedule, and it wasn't until the end of December that they were able to work out a time for Costa-Jackson to audition. Three other singers were also invited to perform a special audition. "I was the youngest I was 20," which is an unusually young age for the program, said Costa-Jackson. "The age they normally do people is more around 23, 24, 25 more in that area.
"I think the youngest they've taken is a soprano that was 19."
As a member of the LYADP, Costa-Jackson will have specialized training in music and language and dramatic coaching from the same people who work with the Met stars. "Not only that, we're getting these performance opportunities not only at the Met, but through other companies throughout the world. It's like a scouting pool, and they're seeing who are the ones that show potential, that they would want to hire."
Of course, outside engagements have to be approved by the artistic director, and opportunities within the Met are also available. Young artists also have access to the Metropolitan Opera rehearsals, something that Costa-Jackson says particularly excites her.
Each young artist is given a stipend for living expenses, along with funding for private lessons with approved teachers from outside the Met staff. The invitation for the program is for one year, with the option of extending it a second and third year.
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