Hilary Watkins, graduating senior and music vocal performance major, recently competed in the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions held at the University of Memphis. Watkins was one of four competitors, out of 21, to receive an encouragement award while three contenders moved on to regionals.
“Being able to participate in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions was truly a wonderful and eye-opening experience. I’m constantly coming to the realization of how diverse and subjective the opera world is,” said Watkins. “The different voices that I heard left me in amazement. It felt so good to be surrounded by people who love to perform just as much as I do.”
Watkins said it was also great to see that she was not the only African-American singer at the event.
“I met a beautiful singer by the name of Amanda Bottoms, she’s a Mezzo-Soprano. We talked a while about the different aspects of opera. She gave me great insight into grad school,” said Watkins. “We also discussed the need for young African-American students to be exposed to things like opera. We both understood that there are young people who look like us that do not know African-Americans sing classical music, too.”
Watkins shared that the highlight of the evening was receiving the encouragement award and watching Bottoms move on to regionals.
“After pictures, we congratulated and hugged each other. All in all, just know that I couldn’t let the day go by without thanking God for this wonderful and humbling opportunity. My gift of song, all of my success, and praise belong to Him,” she said.
Watkins also expressed her appreciation for the support of her parents, former vocal instructor, Mr. Larry Robinson, and Dr. Phyllis Lewis-Hale, assistant professor of ethnomusicology and director of opera and musical theatre in the Department of Music at Jackson State.