Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, a 23-year-old countertenor and recent Princeton graduate, was named one of six winners of this year’s Metropolitan National Council Auditions. The award is one of the most prestigious granted to young opera singers; past winners include Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, and Eric Owens.
In the competition’s last round, the Grand Finals Concert presented on the Metropolitan Opera’s Lincoln Center stage on March 19, nine finalists each presented two arias.
The six winners, whose ranks also included mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey, soprano Kirsten MacKinnon, tenor Richard Smagur, tenor Kyle van Schoonhoven, and soprano Vanessa Vazquez, were each awarded cash prizes of $15,000, while the remaining three finalists were each awarded a cash prize of $5,000.
The finalists were chosen after an extended series of auditions at the district, regional, and national levels.
Nussbaum Cohen, the son of Forward contributing editor Debra Nussbaum Cohen, sang George Frideric Handel’s “Pompe vane di morte…Dove sei, amato bene?” from “Rodelinda” in the first act of the Grand Finals Concert. In the second, he sang Jonathan Dove’s “Dawn, still darkness” from “Flight.”
The award was not the first coup of Nussbaum Cohen’s breakout season. In January, he took home first prize in the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition; he has also, this year, been a finalist in the George London Foundation Competition.
Nussbaum Cohen has forthcoming engagements with Virginia’s Wolf Trap Opera, where he will serve as a studio artist for Philip Glass and Robert Moran’s “The Juniper Tree,” and the Houston Grand Opera Studio, for which, appearing in “Giulio Cesare” and “Elektra,” he’ll mark something of a milestone: The Studio has never previously engaged a countertenor.
If you missed Nussbaum Cohen’s performance in the Grand Finals Concert, get a sense of his performance with the video of him performing “Dawn, still darkness,” below.