UK graduate heading to Met auditions finals

University of Kentucky Opera Theatre director Everett McCorvey, bass Matthew Turner, UK voice professor Dennis Bender and baritone Reginald Smith Jr. at the Metropolitan Opera Sunday afternoon. Turner and Smith competed in the semi-finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Sunday, and Smith advanced to the finals March 22. Photo courtesy of Everett McCorvey.

University of Kentucky Opera Theatre director Everett McCorvey, bass Matthew Turner, UK voice professor Dennis Bender and baritone Reginald Smith Jr. at the Metropolitan Opera Sunday afternoon. Turner and Smith competed in the semi-finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Sunday, and Smith advanced to the finals March 22. Photo courtesy of Everett McCorvey.

Reginald Smith Jr., who took an overnight Greyhound bus ride from Atlanta to Lexington to win a full scholarship to University of Kentucky’s voice program in 2007, has advanced to the final round of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Smith will sing in the grand finals concert at 3 p.m. March 22 on the Metropolitan Opera Stage with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, conducted by Fabio Luisi.

With the win, Smith joins Gregory Turay (1995) and Mark Whatley (2002) as the only singers from the University of Kentucky to advance to the Met Auditions finals. Turay is the only winner from UK.

Matthew Turner, a bass who was last seen locally in the UK Opera Theatre production of The Tales of Hoffman, also competed Sunday, but did not advance. There were 17 singers in Sunday’s semi-finals and nine advanced to the finals. In an interview with the Herald-Leader, Turner said it was amazing to be one of the 17 finalists in the competition that began with thousands of competitors in district rounds.

Smith enjoyed a high profile UK career, appearing in leading roles in many opera productions as well as singing with the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra and other groups. He graduated in 2012 and is currently in the Houston Grand Opera Studio Program for young artists and has appeared in numerous Houston Grand Opera productions.

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