The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Twin Cities 2014, April 12-13

Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Upper Midwest Region

The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions is a program designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers. Since the Metropolitan Opera opened its doors in 1883 there have been auditions for the coveted spots on the stage. On February 12, 1954, the first Regional Auditions for the Metropolitan Opera were held at Northrop Memorial Auditorium on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. Until that time, Americans almost always had to go to Europe for training, experience and credibility. On that first audition day, 126 singers performed. Today, replicating the successful example of the Twin Cities, the auditions are held annually in 40 cities across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. This year 1500 youth will compete for approximately five coveted positions, with the grand prizes of $15,000. The final event of the auditions is the grand finals concert which has been broadcast on National Public Radio since 1974. The auditions are only made possible through the commitment of the volunteers, donors and sponsors who contribute their time, energy and financial support to the auditions. We receive no funding from the Metropolitan Opera. The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for the Upper Midwest Region have always operated under a fiscal sponsor – the University of Minnesota from 1954 – 1987 and the Twin Cities Opera Guild since 1987.

What new functionality we are looking for

A web site presence is important for our organization because it is the primary vehicle for disseminating information about the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions to singers, audience, and supporters, and the creation of new audiences.

The web site will publicize the careers of singers who have gone through the audition process in the Upper Midwest.

The web site will thank those who have made the auditions possible

The web site will link to other opera and arts organizations in the Upper Midwest.

The web site will provide the rationale for engagement in the annual competitive events.

The web site will have links to social media sites, further increasing our presence.

The web site will allow people to sign up for monthly newsletters that will further engagement.

The web site will allow visitors to see photos and read bios of the singers.

The web site will link to the singers’ online application form.

The web site will present Minnesota’s historic place in the Metropolitan Opera auditions.

A web site will allow us to accept donations on line.

How the new functionality will help

The majority of young singers today communicate through the web. The web is the preferred way for young people to access information. It is also the preferred way to communicate with our audience and supporters. Improvements in the functionality of the web will increase the value of promotion of individual singers and major steps in their careers through increased visibility.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

8 Messages from Supporters

2014-03-17 02:20:42 UTC
Jimmy Longoria

The annual District and Regional Auditions are the best ticket in the Twin Cities for live singing. No where else can you have the opportunity to see potential future stars of international calibre in a dramatic and high stress moment of triumph. They need a web site!

2014-03-17 02:43:29 UTC
Catherine Dehn

Did you know the very first winner of the Metropolitan Opera auditions was from Minnesota in 1952? Having a national and international presence on a home-grown website would be a dream come true. We'd like to be a winner so we can present emerging talented singers and future opera stars to the world!

2014-03-19 14:09:34 UTC
Bill Margolis

The Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions have been instrumental in launching the careers of young singers who have become world-renowned opera performers, including Renée Fleming, Thomas Hampson, and Jessye Norman. Although the singers who reach such a high level represent a small stratum, nonetheless, the auditions provide valuable and much-needed opportunities for young singers to develop their talent and perform in public. The Met National Council auditions are among the crème de la crème of experiences for these singers to hone all aspects of their performance - including foreign language pronunciation, advanced vocal technique, attire, and on-stage poise and magnetism.

A web presence for the Upper Midwest National Council Metropolitan Opera auditions has been seriously lacking. Although I am an opera fanatic, it was almost impossible to find information about the 2013-1014 auditions held in the Twin Cities. It was only by word of mouth that I learned where and when the auditions were held.

This season's auditions were held at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, in the Ordway’s splendid main concert hall. I believe that in part, owing to lack of publicity, the attendance was fewer than 100 people. Given the number of opera lovers in the Twin Cities, the number of professional and semi-professional opera companies and vocal music groups, the number of colleges and universities with fine music programs in the metropolitan area and the state of Minnesota, and the many private voice teachers, the meager turnout at such a significant (and free) event is nothing short of shocking.

I can think of no more deserving a non-profit organization than the Upper Midwest National Council auditions to receive the assistance of your organization. It reminds me of the graphic art services a major public relations firm donated to the Schubert Club a few years ago. Based in St. Paul, this world-class arts organization (whose concert recitals have included many Met audition finalists) had a website and print materials that did not reflect on it as well as they could. The new pro bono graphics and design work transformed the Schubert Club’s web presence and print collateral from ordinary to spectacular.

I wholeheartedly encourage the Nerdery to donate website design services to the Upper Midwest Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions to elevate this volunteer organization’s web presence to the level it truly deserves. Doing so will increase the organization's visibility and public awareness of the auditions, and opera in general, aiming toward the highest level of this art form in our country and worldwide.

2014-03-20 13:34:39 UTC
Jim Nash

The Upper Midwest National Council Metropolitan Opera auditions has had volunteers working for the benefit of aspiring and upcoming opera singers for over 60 years. There are five separate regions that each operate their own set of auditions several weeks before the final auditions (North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Minnesota). Judges provided by the Metropolitan Opera sit in at these auditions and award various rankings and allocate the cash prizes provided by the individual regions- they also choose individuals who will progress to the final regional auditions held in February in St. Paul.

Each of these subdivisions forming the Upper Midwest Region have their own Facebook or other websites. Logically, the Upper Midwest website should be acting as a central clearinghouse for the information provided on the other websites. At this point we really have nothing available as far as a central website. We have a Facebook page which has only 48 "likes" at this point- it was not really used for much in the past but but now has been updated with several hundred photos. The problem is that people who have our brochures from the past year will not see a link to this page listed. There is a link to our former website http://www.moncuppermidwest.com/ but the volunteer who was the sysop of that website pulled the plug and it is no longer functioning.

We really need some professional help in designing a modern website. We have a lot of talented individuals involved with the Upper Midwest Auditions but sadly website design is not a talent that is currently available. We have a talented writer who will be volunteering his efforts and we have access to some good quality photographs from the February auditions. What we desperately need is some expertise to start us off with a good looking website that we can take and build on for the future. We could then promote the new website with links placed on various Facebook pages of arts organizations.

If we can provide a website that looks good to the general public, we can more successfully promote the auditions in the future and fill a lot of the empty seats that we saw this last February.

This is definitely not requested to provide monetary gain to any of the volunteers involved in this organization. There are no paid positions involved here, just a lot of people who devote a great deal of effort over the year to try to help young people who aspire to become the opera stars of the future get a chance to be seen in performance and perhaps even to get to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. It would be really great if you could help us.

2014-03-21 13:16:11 UTC
Tom Nichol

The Metropolitan Opera auditions for our region need much wider publicity, and it goes without saying that a well-designed web site is absolutely essential. By donating its services to this worthy cause, the Nerdery would be making a major contribution to the arts in the Upper Midwest.

2014-03-22 19:32:30 UTC
Skye Smith

I attend the district auditions in November when I can. The regional auditions in February I try never to miss. This last edition, 2014, I'd say there were 4 moderately interesting singers. The other 9 were superlative. I don't know how the judges managed to pick a winner. It's an astonishing event to watch, even a bit nerve-wracking for those of us who aren't competing . . . or have no personal ties to the singers. I don't know why every seat in the house (Ordway) isn't filled. Seriously.

2014-03-24 02:31:40 UTC
Kelsey Bruso

The Metropolitan Opera! Just the name itself evokes an emotional response for so many people - Saturday afternoon broadcasts, Lincoln Center, the costumes, the sets, the spectacle. At the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions you get to hear the next generation of America's opera stars - live. Some will make it to the main stage at "The Met". Others will have great careers singing in other leading houses the world over. But first, we get to hear them right here in Minnesota. Go to YouTube and search "the audition metropolitan opera documentary" to get a taste of the audition performances. Upgrading the web site for the Upper Midwest National Council will allow more people to find out about the auditions and to experience the thrill of the live performances.

2014-03-24 14:22:38 UTC
Lynda and Frank Sharbrough

The Minnesota District and Uppermidwest Region Auditions invite the public to enjoy free auditions in the fall and winter. We must raise all the expenses and awards money every year to help highly trained singers persue their dreams of careers in opera. Our borders are open and singers from across the US are eligible to compete here. A professional website is essential in welcoming and registering them. Since 1975 we have been members of the Metropolitan Opera National Council whose sole purpose is finding, encouraging,and showcasing young opera singers. Minnesota District Audition winners progress to the Upper Midwest Region Auditions and thence, all expenses paid, to the New York semi-finals. The talented ten winners in the subsequent Grand Finals Concert are coached and prepared by the MET staff for the week before singing onstage with the MET Orchestra. What a golden opportunity to share beautiful singing while encouraging young hearts!

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Community Issue
Arts and Performance

Our Mission

The purpose of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions is to: 1. To discover exceptional young talent. 2. To provide a venue for young opera singers from all over the country and at all different levels of experience to be heard by a representative of the Metropolitan Opera and to assist those with the greatest potential in their development. 3. To search for new talent for the Metropolitan Opera and the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.