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Yelena Dyachek ’13 was one of five winners of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the largest and most prestigious such competition in the opera world.

Yelena Dyachek ’13 was one of five winners of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the largest and most prestigious such competition in the opera world.

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Pacific News

Pacific alumna wins on opera’s biggest stage

Mar 14, 2016

[Editor's note: Rising opera singer Yelena Dyachek '13 was featured in The Sacramento Bee in advance of her performance as "Fiordiligi" in San Francisco Opera's production of "Così fan tutte" on Aug. 4 and Aug. 6 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. For ticket information, visit] 

Yelena Dyachek '13 is living her dream.

Dyachek beat out 1,500 singers over the past year to become one of the top-five winners of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in New York City. The top five receive a grand prize of $15,000 and the remaining four finalists receive $5,000. But more than that, placing in the top five of the most prestigious competition of its kind catapults the careers of these emerging opera singers.

"Also memorable was the soprano Yelena Dyachek from California, who demonstrated impressive range, depth and power in 'Come scoglio' from Mozart's 'Così Fan Tutte' before delivering an emotionally captivating Letter Scene from Tchaikovsky's 'Eugene Onegin,"' according to a review in The New York Times.

The months-long competition began in the fall with the huge pool of singers auditioning throughout the country and Canada. Dyachek won the Los Angeles District and Western Region auditions before continuing to the March 6 semifinals. She and other semifinalists worked with Metropolitan Opera singers and musicians to prepare for the March 13 grand finals.

"The opportunity to perform with the Met orchestra is a dream come true," Dyachek said from New York City just before the grand finals. "It feels surreal, very unexpected, and absolutely wonderful."

Following the creation of the Met's National Council in the 1952-53 season, the first Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions took place in 1954. For more than 60 years, the annual competition has helped launch the careers of countless young singers, including some of opera's greatest stars. More than 100 past participants of the auditions appear on the Met roster each opera season.

Dyachek, a teaching assistant at the USC Thornton School of Music where she completed her Master of Music degree in vocal arts and is pursuing a graduate certificate, grew up in Antelope and El Dorado Hills. Her family continues to live in the Sacramento area.

She won several prizes before attending Pacific, including the Vocal Prize in the Mondavi Young Artist Competition in 2009, and a first place in the 2009 National Association of Teachers of Singing competition and second place the year before.

She was in several Pacific Opera Theatre productions while at Pacific, including the "Merry Wives of Windsor," which took first place in the 2013 Opera Production Competition sponsored by the National Opera Association.

Also in that production were Hannah Ludwig '14, Andrew Dwan '13 and Ted Pickell '14, who each competed in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. While they did not continue to the semifinals, each was given an Encouragement Award.

For a distinctive opera program such as the Conservatory of Music's to have one recent graduate in the competition would be rare, but to have four advance as far as they did in a single year is considered extraordinary.

Related stories:

"Dyachek '13 sings way to finals of national opera competition," March 6, 2016

"Fantastic four sing their way to The Metropolitan Opera stage," Dec. 4, 2015

Media contact:

Keith Michaud | 209.946.3275 (office) | 209.470.3206 (cell) |

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