GP at the Met: The Audition
Preview This Behind-the-scenes Documentary

Award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke looks at the intense pressures young opera singers face as they struggle to succeed in one of the difficult professions in the performing arts in The Audition. The feature-length documentary takes you behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions, where each year thousands of hopefuls compete for a cash prize, the chance to sing on the Met stage–and the opportunity to launch a major operatic career.

The Audition will air during primetime on THIRTEEN’S Great Performances at the Met in HD on Wednesday, January 20 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS (check local listings).

Watch a preview:

Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

Great Performances at the Met: The Audition is the second of 10 productions airing this season during the 2009-2010 series. The film covers the dramatic week leading up to the finals of the 2007 auditions, focusing on three very different tenor contestants: Michael Fabiano, a fiery 22-year-old grappling with his inner demons; Alek Shrader, a 25-year-old with movie-star looks who attempts to sing nine high Cs in the fiendishly difficult aria that made Pavarotti a star; and Ryan Smith, who at the age of 30, and with little formal training, is pursuing his dream of an operatic career. The Audition is both a suspenseful competition narrative and a revealing backstage look at what it takes to make it as an opera singer.

The Audition is made possible by the generous support of Frayda B. Lindemann. Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, Vivian Milstein, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers and PBS. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home-builder®.

For the Met,Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.

  • Ellen Burbage

    Can’t wait to see this again! Great human drama and fabulous singing.

  • john j diefenbach

    Supose you knew someone that has a great voice. Spent nine years with Andre Reiu. How would get her an audition?Where do i send her resume an music? She doesen’t need an audition she is very very good among the best
    John J Diefenbach

  • Mimi Kohen

    I adore listening to opera and look forward to this event this coming Wednesday. There but for the grace of God go I; I sing too and like to watch the expressions of the talented singers as well as their intonation and voices. I would like more opera presentations on TV. Thanks.

    Mimi Beth Kohen

  • Jaume Keyes

    30 years ago took voice lessons for the first time and the teacher was surprised when singing scales I easily could reach a D flat. She told me that I could sing like Pavarotti if I wanted. Now I am 68; just wonder if it is too late to continue vocal coaching at least to sing on special occasions.

  • Geraldine Cotter

    Listening to opera is wonderful! Enjoy it thoroughly, but would love to see more ballet performances and documentaries on past and present ballerinas.

  • Carol Nimberger

    As a former singer I cannot wait to see and hear the “opera stars this week. I have Spasmodic Dysphonia and can no longer sing….very frustrating but I do try when I am alone..even though it sounds horrible Thank you for this program.

  • Jordana Hardin

    I absolutely ADORE GP at the Met and I am so excited about seeing THE AUDITION! I am a teenage wannabe opera singer (Yeah, I know) and I always love watching things like this to get insight. Thanks so much to the Metropolitan Opera for making amazing productions for all of us opera lovers here.

  • Bonnie

    I’ve been called away and sadly will not be able to watch tonight. Will there be another chance for me to see it? On at another time?

  • Mom

    Jaume above, GO FOR IT!!!!!

  • MIMI

    R.I.P. Ryan Smith; what an inspiration!

  • Dee

    I was glued to the TV watching these amazing talented young men and women. I was moved by Ryan Smith’s performance only to find out he died of cancer! What a loss!

  • Matthew Murphy

    Just watched. Fantastic program!

  • Karen Payne

    Ryan Smith’s singing went straight to my heart. Thrilled by the prospect of following his career for years to come, I dashed to the computer to see what he is doing now, only to find that he died the year after this beautiful film was made. Kudos to the other singers, but for me Ryan was the brightest star among them and he will be missed.

  • Hue Burke

    What a wonderful and nerve-racking show! I was blown away to learn of the loss of Ryan Smith. During his performance I made a note to search him out. I loved the way he responded after his turn. Such a natural talent and so tragic a loss…

  • Linda Lehmann

    From someone who cannot sing a note (me) this was inspiring! What talent, what dedication! They were all winners in my book. Moved to disbelief that Ryan Smith had died. What a loss, but he at least got to dream his dream. Loved the program.

  • Cecelia Szurszewski

    We loved the show and wish we could see this competition every year. The singers were superb and had amazing presence for being so young. We were so sorry about Ryan. After Renee Fleming spoke with Susan Graham and Thomas Hampson there was a clip of a Met star singing Nessun Dorma and we’d very much like to know who it was. Thank you.

  • Eva

    I could not see it tonight either and really want to. I went to church with Alek Shrader’s family when he was born and his parents were great singers, too. Please air it again. Thank you.

  • Arlene

    Oh my goodness, how wonderful!! My toddler even watched it with me. Along with watching more GP’s @ the MET, this makes me want to take advantage of my area & watch more operas here in SF.

  • maddy coughlin

    This was great and showed so much emotion that
    goes on behind the scenes. It was devastating
    to learn Ryan had died. Such a loss.

  • Richard Bienvenu

    To Jaume Keyes: I am 57 and started taking voice lessons two years ago. Although I have sung all my life I never studied voice and am now training to sing classical music. My teacher is amazed I can hit a high E. So it’s never to late to start. I found this PBS programs to be inspiring and so sad to hear of Ryan untimely death, his performance was the best and most moving.

  • Terry Haigler

    I’m 53 years old and I have never liked opera. But I watched the show,”The Audition” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was moved…very moved. Can you tell me the names of the singers, and the songs they sang? I would really like to know them. I will be going to the opera.

  • Maria

    My husband and I were enthralled by this film. He is new to opera and we have seen several Met simulcast performances at the movies, so he loved all the backstage drama in The Audition. We were impressed by everyone but Ryan Smith was our favorite. We were crushed to learn at the end of the film that he had passed away…we were looking forward to his future performances. At least he was able to realize his dream. Wondering where the winners are now, 3 years later. Thank you for an exceptional film.

  • Kathryn Senne

    I thorougly enjoyed The Audition. As others above, I was impressed by Ryan Smith – and was then so sad to learn of his death. I would love to see the auditions every year.

  • Vince Zamora

    Breezing thru the channels when I caught this excellent show.Pulled out a pad and started taking notes and highlighted Mr. Ryan Smith among the top;he lived his dream! A most excellent show!Bravo!

  • David Rubeo

    You can see a complete listing of the arias on the Metropolitan Opera website. From the homepage go to the bottom and choose Archives, then from the left nav choose “database” or go to the following link:

  • Ann Gordon Bateman

    Fantastic program! (as are all of your Great Performances). I was smiling and laughing with Alek Shrader and absolutely LOVED his reaction after his final performance. What joy to see someone with so much talent enjoy so much what he did. I hope he keeps this enthusiasm. So many talented musicians I’ve seen perform don’t even smile at the end of an absolutely awesome performance. I don’t understand this. How can anyone NOT smile experiencing such beautiful music, especially when you’re the musician!!

  • Peter Schmidt

    This is a very moving, honest and beautiful piece of work.

  • Gigi Jones

    Just saw “The Audition”, and it was magnificent. What professionalism and dedication they all demonstrated-such talented singers. Of course, it was sad to learn of Ryan Smith’s death; in some ways, it made the whole show even more meaningful to me. I will tell all my friends this is a “must see”. RIP, Ryan-you were brave and lived your dream.

  • Mary Gibson

    Thank you for broadcasting this wonderful program. I loved every minute and hope that it could be available for purchase. I would like to be able to share it with my violin students.

  • Anne Steuart

    Loved every minute! Can you tell me how to get the DVD, please. Thanks.

  • Don Bell

    As Anne Steurt inquired, would love to get ahold of the DVD version if it was recorded. Bravo. Very sad to learn of Ryan’s untimely death, but loved the part where he had called his mother telling her: “I won !”

  • Seymour Horowitz

    Would like to irder a DVD copy of the show. A phone no.
    appeared at end of show-could not write it down in time

  • Seymour Horowitz

    Would like to irder a DVD copy of the show. A phone no.
    appeared at end of show-could not write it down in time
    Huh? I see that # 31 (Don Bell) asked the same question.
    How about giving an answer? Ii;; even accept your repeating
    the answer w/o insulting you…..

  • Alanzo Robles-Gordon

    I saw the show a few hours ago and was completely enthralled. I never thought I would enjoy Opera but I am sold. R. Smiths piece was so touching and so very moving. I am deeply saddened by his loss, however am grateful that his performances were recorded. Thank you greatly.

  • dominic messerly

    I was shocked to learn about Ryan. Can you do a follow up story on Ryan’s battle with cancer? What kind of cancer was it, how could someone so young and seemingly healthy just pass away like that? My condolences to his family…

  • D. Jeannot

    Wonderful program. I too was shocked to learn of Ryan’s passing. I was looking forward to hearing his singing in MET productions. My heartfelt sympathies to his family. It’s also our loss to have lost such a promising artist.

  • Laurie Ogden

    Oh! Excellent show – amazing singers!! I love to sing, but because of too much trauma due to tubes down the throat, can no longer sing adequately, but will listen forever! So sad to read of the passing of Ryan Smith – he was my favorite among the winners of the 2007 season … so very sad

  • Marjorie Carlson

    What an inspiring program! Please relay to Ryan’s family my sympathies for their loss. He was great!

  • Anne Taylor

    Thank you for the inspired evening! I was moved to tears at learning of Ryan’s death. I too would order a DVD of the show. I’d like to follow the careers of several of the singers, in hopes that I can hear them in person one day.

  • Jane Cameron

    I have just watched the amazing and exciting Auditions. Like others, I had ear-marked the name of Ryan Smith as one to definitely follow in the future and was stunned to read of his death. Alex Shrader was inspiring.

  • Beverly Tally

    I thoroughly enjoyed the documentary and seeing the very human side of artistic competition. Obviously, all the performers worked long and hard to get to the finals. Like other viewers, I was blown away by Ryan Smith’s performance. All that power coming from such a personable, modest young man who had the maturity to put a potential win in perspective. I too was shocked to see the memorial to him at the end of the credit crawl. What a loss. We can only hope that this film is of some comfort to his family. They must be so proud of him.

  • Vicki Nadsady

    I just saw the show (west coast – we see everything late). I don’t like opera, or any of the reality talent shows, and I was going to switch to CSI-NY but couldn’t… it had me enthralled. Like everyone else, I was shocked to see that Ryan had passed. But could pbs post an update on what the other singers are doing now? I think Alek could really be a star. He lights up the stage, and could interest more non-opera people in opera.

  • Gretchen Bertman

    I grew up with opera and my father sang in the chorus in the Seattle Company and here in Portland more than 30 years ago. I love opera. The Audition was wonderful treat but I was shocked and saddened by Ryan Smith’s death. I was so looking forward to enjoying his voice for years to come. My sympathies go out to his family and opera lovers everywhere.

  • Lynne

    As an opera major who went to Oberlin (Alek Shrader’s alma mater!), I can attest to the extraordinary discipline, talent, and, well, luck that these young singers have. I was so happy for Ryan Smith, that he pulled a truly extraordinary performance at just the right moment, and gasped aloud when the epilogue mentioned that he died. His poor parents. However, his “Mama? I won!” will forever bring a smile to my face.

    Alek Shrader is extraordinary. I will be following his career with great interest.

    The young lady from Iceland didn’t sound nearly as bad as she thought she did. I am glad she is continuing to star in her home country.

    The sobering thought that for each of those ten young people, there are at least a hundred who tried and didn’t make it. It’s a shame there aren’t more opportunities for young – and not so young – singers here in America.

  • kit

    to ryan’s family; he was amazing! i am so sorry for your loss. we all have lost a talented and obviously good man. i am going out tomorrow and find a vocal coach. imagine, at 66 years old! he was an inspiration. i also loved alek. amazing to hear and see. his obvious unabashed willingness to be openly ALIVE is also inspirational.

  • Chris

    Neither my girlfriend nor I are big opera fans, although we do go to the symphony on a regular basis. This GP show was a follow-on to “The Human Spark” and once my girlfriend realized it was filmed in a “reality tv” mode, we ended up watching the whole episode.

    We are now interested in possibly going to see an opera at our local performing arts center. Thanks GP!

    One thing: We were mesmerized by Ryan Smith immediately from the beginning of the show and we were so happy when he won! The last five seconds of the show was a total bombshell! We were literally sitting on the couch with our mouths agape. It’s amazing that in a two hour time span we felt so close to this person, and in a split second felt such an immense loss. He lived his dream though – and rose from the depths of bankruptcy to sing on stage with the Met Orchestra. If we could all be so daring and lucky before we depart… Our hearts go out to his ‘Mama’ and the rest of his family. :’(

  • Dashiel Hermann

    Amazing documentary! I couldn’t take my eyes away from the television screen. I really got a good idea of how exciting and at the same time stressful it is for these singers. I certainly didn’t envy the position of the judges. It would be so difficult to pick the winners. Each of the singers was so talented and wonderful to watch.

  • Karen (Horvath)

    I, too, found the program inspirational, and I was particularly rooting for Ryan Smith. I loved the realistic way he said he’d give himself two years to be successful with his singing and smiled when he called his parents immediately to let them know he won! It was wonderful to see at the first crawl that he got to sing at the Met, but the bombshell that he had passed away from cancer was devastating. Please extend my deepest sympathy to his family. They must be so proud of him, especially that he followed his dream!

  • Ina Schechner

    The show was absolutely marvelous
    All of the finalists were outstanding
    However the winners brought me to tears
    Ryan Smith’s untimely death broke my heart
    What a beautiful and gentle young man
    Alas however he realized his dream
    Condolences to his family

  • ARossiello

    An excellent program. It really shows that even after the audition, all these people are working at something they love. How can I purchase a copy of this film?

  • Mark H

    This was truly an amazing program (broadcast) and one that should be an inspiration to many young opera singers who are aspired to perform at the Met. I was totally mesmerized by Ryan’s performance and stood ready to follow this young man’s career. My heart truly sang at the end of the broadcast having learned about his death. This is truly a great loss. I am glad that he had a chance to realize his dreams. My condolences to his family.

  • Brian Striman

    Another amazing element that this GP show brought out that no outsider would know, was the exceptional dedication of all those teachers and mentors who brought up the “next generation” of the artistry and power of opera. Wow!

  • Mary Beth Makuch

    “The Audition” was one of the best reasons for supporting our PBS stations. I was mesmerized by the quality of their voices and the determined spirits of the contestants during the nerveracking process prior to the actual performance.
    We have lost a beautiful voice here on earth.
    I am confident that Ryan is praising God as only he can. Condolences to his family.

  • Eileen

    Such a wonderful program.
    Here is a link with more information regarding Ryan Smith.

  • Eva

    What a wonderful program and such talented people. I was glued to the tv and was shocked when I saw that Ryan Smith had died. What a loss.

  • Bill T

    I concur with Maestro Mark H. Ryan’s performance was quite Mesmerizing. This was a young man of great talent. He would have been a huge success. I am inspired by his zest of the Opera. In my opinion he achieved self actualization. My sincere and heart felt condolences to his family and friends.

  • Carolyn

    A fascinating and inspiring look behind the scenes of the Met auditions. I fell in love with all the performers, and was shocked and saddened to learn of Ryan Smith’s death. But he became who he was born to be, and lived with great joy. Would love to know how the others are doing – a follow-up program??

  • Patricia

    Incredible! I was so smitten by Ryan Smith I checked him out on Internet and got the shock of my life to read that he died of lymphoma. What a sorrow for not just his family but the world!

  • sharon mickey

    I love this program!!! I admire all the singers for their talent and work ethic. Ryan’s story broke my heart. What a natural gift that was taken away from us too early. xo

  • Gregory

    I saw part of the presentation, but not all of it. Could anyone tell me who the tenor was, who sang Nessun Dorma at the very end of the telecast?
    Many thanks.

  • Terry

    I joined this program 15 minutes in and could not take my eyes off it. Not a great fan of opera, (don’t know enough about it, I guess),but these young people were extraordinary. It was amazing (in relation to the blight of other competition shows where foolishness and ineptitude reign) to
    see this sheer talent! Alex Shrader’s competition piece was brilliant. I’d buy a CD of
    his work in a heartbeat. Shocked and saddened by
    the death of Ryan. What a fighter.

  • ally

    I am a long-term opera fan, and have wanted to see this documentary for a long time. Thank you for showing it. It was so sad to watch Ryan as I’d known of his death. What a tragedy, and loss to opera.
    Programs like this have power to introduce opera to wider audience and a must-see for fans of “(pop)era singers” on popular TV talent shows so that they can get an idea of what it takes to become a real opera singer. I hope it is shown again.

    To those who asked about DVD – you can find it here:

    To Gregory – “Nessun Dorma” was actually a preview of future “Great Performances at the Met” telecast of Turandot. The singer is Marcello Giordani. It’ll be shown at the end of February, but check your local listings.

  • Janet

    I too am a singer and this program was so fascinating to me. I know it is a competition but in what other profession could be be enthralled and entertained by your fellow competitors. I was very sad to see that Ryan Smith had passed away because he was such a dear with a great voice. RIP

  • Tania Santiago

    I too was touched to hear of Ryan’s passing. His journey was truly not in vain. He lived to realize his dream and his light touched anyone who saw him in person and on the documentary. On another site which includes an Obituary it mentions “the family asks that donations be made in Ryan’s memory to The Patrick G. and
    Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago”. I for one will be sending something in Ryan’s name. Blessings to you Ryan.

  • Garrett

    Wow! I’m not an opera fan per se but this got me started. I’ll be on the lookout for a few of these singers now.

  • Bill Griswold

    Outstanding production. The best suspense drama I hqave seen lately. I was there on the edge of my seat with each singer

  • Bill Griswold

    Hope you air this again soon and include in your video archives available online.

  • Phyllis Cum

    I am not a very big fan of opera, but something made me tune in last night. Bravo to all. What performances given my amateurs. My favorite Ryan Smith – a true gentlemen and an inspiration. My heart sank when the summaries were given at the end and I learned of his untimely passing. His mom must be very proud of her son. He was a treasure.

  • Christine Stouffer

    I, too, was crushed to see that Ryan had passed away in 2008. What a blow to see that in the credits after watching such an exhilarating show. As Chris posted above, it’s amazing how close I felt to these people after just watching a two-hour documentary. By the way, our local NPR station (WCPN in Cleveland) had an interview with Mr. Shrader the day before this program aired on PBS. They gave a spoiler alert that he was one of the winners. You can hear the archive on, on the Around Noon show (host Dee Perry), for Tuesday, 1/19/10. It was a great interview, so I was ready to watch the actual documentary the next night, and I am not an opera follower, but the WCPN radio interview captivated me.

  • Alex D

    An absolutely riveting and beautiful production.

    And as many have mentioned, a heartbreaking summary at the end.

    Now THIS is what “reality” TV should be about- bravo to all.

  • Lillian Lovas

    What a beautiful documentary. A tribute to all those hours of work that seems so seamless when finally seen on stage. Touching to see Ryan Smith; his soul and humanity shined through.

  • Sybil

    I was mesmerized by these very talented opera singers! Fantastic performances and program.Was saddened to learn that Ryan passed away. Also would like to know if there is a DVD of this program available.

  • whe3

    Waht a great program! Ryan Smith’s death was a shock. Remember, however, how he burst into his dressing room after he sang, noting that he was fine with whichever way the judges ruled, as he had accomplished his goal. I thought that most of the competitors who the audience learned about during the show shuold have good futures as opera singers, whether or not they were chosen as “winners/” I also welcomed the Renee Fleming interview at the end– interesting observations from all three people in that interview..

  • Robert

    I found this site, it is a friend of Ryan Smith who posted a small biography of Ryan after his death in 2008, he will continue to inspire !

  • Jon Varga

    As a pianist and professional musician, I’ve always intensely disliked the concept of competitions and auditions. The idea of dividing true artists into catagories of “winners” and “losers” is not a pleasant prospect. Yet, auditions – and especially the MET auditions – are extremely beneficial. I can think of no better setting than the MET for aspiring singers to have their talents showcased.

    The young singers who performed at the MET National Council Auditions all have extraordinary talent and – whether chosen or not – none of them left as losers. Clearly, this event enriched all of their lives. Susan Froemke’s film which documented this event was a pleasure and an inspiration to watch.

    Unfortunately I don’t have a complete list of all the singers who participated in this event, but I have no doubt that their names will shine in the future as they pursue operatic careers.

    The lovely blonde soprano Larusdottir (?)was disappointed with her performance of the Bellini but sang extraordinarily well, nevertheless.

    The three prominently featured male singers were all superb. Michael Fabiano, who sang the aria from Tchaikovsky’s “Onegin”, has a maturity beyond his years. Alek Shrader, who hit all the high C’s, has great charm and physical appeal. Ryan Smith’s intensely emotional performance blew me away. I was deeply shocked and saddened to learn of his untimely death from cancer.

    To all who were involved in the making of this film – bravo!

  • Priscilla

    I am not a huge opera fan but am so very glad that I watched The Audition – I was mesmerized – did not move for the entire 2 hours. Please, please show this again and also keep us updated on what these young men and women are doing now. How wonderful for Ryan Smith that he had his Met debut.

  • Marcia C. Maytner

    Best program on opera I`ve ever experienced.I felt the singers` nervousness and was elated at their success! Loved the voice and personality of Alek Shrader and of course was moved to tears to learn of Ryan Smith`s death. Please replay this program!

  • J. Lucas

    I couldn’t sleep last night and caught this documentary on PBS…I was mesmerized from the first look and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since then. You don’t have to love or even like opera to be enthralled by “The Audition” – it’s simply amazing. I loved all the singers and their stories, but I was hooked on Ryan Smith and Alek Shrader from the beginning. I was literally cheering and screaming for them in their performances, and words cannot express my dismay at reading of Ryan’s death at the end. I truly believe that he gave his all to his craft, using so well the gifts God gave him. Rest in peace, Ryan.

  • S. Reynolds

    As the mother of a young classical singer who hopes to start with her National Council Auditions next year, I found this a very moving documentary. On every level, the depth of information conveyed was quite exceptional. This impossible career to which my daughter aspires is perfectly viewed from the lens of this documentary. Over the years as my daughter as gone through her educational process I’ve spotted young non-professional singers whose path I later follow. I attend their concerts when I’m able and hope for their success. I saw two singers in this video that I intend to include in my next trip to the met. I was especially moved by the voices of all. Absolutely wonderful programming.

  • Dave

    Fantastic! Nerve wracking but worth it. Also, truly touching. God Bless ya Ryan!

  • Sarah Jane

    I was instantly hooked watching this wonderful film. I fell in love with Ryan and Alek and was heartbroken to learn of Ryan’s death. I hope he was filmed in another Great Performance for PBS.

  • Janet

    Fabulous performances. Please replay this program. Was so saddened to learn that Ryan Smith succombed to lymphoma. How could you not help but fall in love with him…such a spirit. Like so many others, I couldn’t move for the entire program and had forgotten how much I love opera.

  • stanley hersh

    This program is being repeated WLIW (channel 21 on the upper east side NYC) Feb 7 at 3 pm; and on Feb 7 at 12 pm on PBS (channel 13 same area in NYC). I had missed the beginning, but I want to weep all over again! What an experience! My heart goes out to all these wonderful talented people, and how hard it is, and that most don’t make the big time at the Met but other opportunities are always there.And what a tragedy for Ryan; He would have had a brilliant future career; Heartbreaking.

  • Howard

    I was enthralled by the beautiful voices, especially Ryan Smith. I was going to make sure to learn about his career following the audition. I shed tears when I saw the dedication at the end that said that he had died from cancer! What a loss! I imagine him singing with the angels.

  • Ruth McCormack

    I was instantly hooked on this show and enjoyed seeing the backstage fear and trepidation that each singer went through. I to was saddened to see that Ryan had passed away. Alek was my favorite and hope to see and HEAR him again

  • Bea Fodor

    I woke up at 3 pm to catch the rebroadcast of “The Audition”. NOW I was AWAKE and consumed every minute of it. I sat bolt upright at the summaries at the very end, re: Ryan Smith. PLEASE show this every year. What insite into the Profession of being an opera singer. Now we know

  • Jack Wheeler

    Wonderful show, I missed the beginning s I plan to purchase the DVD (To purchase, call 1-800-336-1917). I’d have made a terrible judge, they were all winners to me, I have a large collection of LPs ans CDs amassed over the last 50 years of singers from Caruso to the present, I love operatic singing. I felt bad for the young lady from Iceland who was so down on herself after her performance, She sang beautifully. God bless you, Ryan.

  • Suzy

    I, too, was captured by “The Audition”. And like many others that posted, a true novice to opera. But this was reality TV at its best. Truly brilliant film making to highlight the singers, get viewers hooked, reveals at the end and the poignant mention of Mr. Smith’s passing. What a loss.

  • bh lee

    Ryan Smith, the best performance ever. It was absolutely beautiful!

  • Leticia Ayala

    Yes Jaume,go for it,never give up hope,good luck

  • Richard Simon

    I loved this! Such talent! Wonderfully presented. I think it would have been helpful to have individual arias identified and performers more prominently identified.

  • Ally W.

    Omg! I adored watching this today! Such beautiful and inspiring music! Poetry and artistry accompanied by a stirring symphony! It was so beautiful! My favorite singer was Alek Shraeder! He was so wonderful, and his voice was that of a handsome angel ;) I found him very dashing *blushes* Yes, even a nineteen year old can throughly enjoy the beauty of Opera :)

  • Ruben

    I’m not the biggest fan of opera, as stated by someone else don’t know a whole lot about it. But to hear these people sing was amazing. I was hooked from the moment I was flipping through the channels and happened to stop and see this. Alex and Ryan were amazing. So sad finding out about Ryan at the end. I’m looking forward to purchase the dvd (or blu-ray). Does anyone know where I can buy it?

  • Mary J Black

    My forte is not in the musical arts. I do know a greatness when I hear it. God must be pleased with these songsters who have taken thier gift added discipline,focus,love and in doing so brought thier instrument to near profection for our enjoyment. In doing so, we recieve and they get such pleasure. How unselfish.

  • Marie Red

    Luckily found this program this morning about 6am and fell in love with most of the performers and the music and wondered why s.o. & I stopped attending local opera performances, we even had season tickets a few years ago. Such beautiful voices and talented people, Alek and Ryan were my favorites and I broke into tears learning at the end that Ryan had passed away. This is truly the type of program that makes PBS so special. Thanks !

  • Fredy K. Seidel

    Fascinating. Would love to see this program again.

  • Freda

    Just as enthralled as everyone else. I, too, was riveted to my seat throughout the entire performance. Unlike that other show, these passionate, talented performers are truly “American Idols.” They were all wonderful to behold and I held my breath at the end, feeling their anticipation. My condolences to Ryan’s family. He will be remembered by all who saw him. Bravo to each of the contestants and to PBS.

  • Renee

    Loved, loved, loved this program. PBS you always do such a good job of giving every experience its due, honor, and revelation. I cheered for these people as if they were my own family. Ryan’s story is bitter sweet, but he met his goal and and I know he was at peace for it. Alek is a talented cutey-pie and I’m sure he will be a success at whatever he does. The red-headed lady (sorry, I forgot her name) was my favorite female singer. She deserved to win. Her voice was outstanding. Bravo!!

  • Jeff Wilson

    I was so moved after the program that I turned off the television, sat in silence, and teared up. As sad as I was to learn about Ryan’s death, I was so thankful he was able to realize his dream before he became ill. God bless him. I truly felt all eleven artists could have brought goosebumps to anyone sitting at the Met on any given day. In my judgement they all earned a contract with the Met. I do need to see this again and to share it with my wife next time. I wonder if I need to purchase it or will I be lucky enough to see it on the schedule again? I think there should be a yearly filming of this competition. Talk about a true “American Idol”! PLEASE!!?

  • Ayse

    To find the DVD, I went to the metoperafamily URL ally suggests above. The “buy” links have been pirated by “Fathom”, and you can’t purchase.
    The metoperashop site website works:

  • Linda Farmer

    I’m so glad I dvr’d this wonderful show. I can’t stop watching it, particularly the performances of Alek Shrader and Ryan Smith. I will order the dvr for family members I know would love it too!!!!

  • Tiffany Anderson

    I can only mimic the sentiments of most of the other posts. The whole show enthralled me and I so looked forward to seeing Ryan Smith performing somewhere, only to be completely heartbroken at the very end to learn that he passed away a year later. What a spirit! What a light! What a voice! What a life!

  • Paul Smith

    I am Ryan’s father and would like to thank all of you for your heartfelt comments about my son. Ryan’s mother, sister, and all of his family and friends (for which he had many) are still trying to absorb this great loss. We have not talked much with anyone since we lost Ryan and I thought that this would be an appropriate forum to share our thanks. Ryan was able to see The Audition along with his family and some of the staff at the hospital before his passing through the efforts of Ms. Gayletha Nichols Director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council of Auditions who personally played the film for him (Thank You). We would also like to thank Carrie-Ann Matheson (she hugged Ryan after his performance) for her daily caring calls, research and fundraising efforts during Ryan’s illness. Thank you to the Metropolitan Opera Company, not only for the caring mentoring and support provided Ryan during the competition, but for the support they provided during his illness which we will cherish for the rest of our lives. We would like to thank the caring and support provided to our family by the great people of the Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago. We left our home in Los Angles to stay with Ryan in Chicago during his illness and the staff (Gianna Rolandi and Dan Novak) and the young interns (Craig, Daniel, Ed & Serena, and others) were there almost everyday to help us to cope with the many trials of this foul and evil disease. The Atlanta Opera Company (Walter Huff, the artist and staff) for their loving support. Thank you Ryan’s doctors, especially Dr. Andrew M. Evens, and especially the nurses and the staff for exceptional care provided by the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. Thanks to all Ryan’s family, in particular Ryan’s Grandmother Elois Blizzard, aunts, and cousins, and friends, in particular Shelvia, Amadou, Carris, for all the prayers and support, in particular the telephone prayer sessions, led by Rev. Harlan Cummings, First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, especially Margaret Talmage and Dr. George Wirth, Pastor, and St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church and Rev. Leon Fanniel and Rev Calvin Moore. And finally, to my brother, Peter Smith, for coming to Chicago and driving us and all Ryan’s stuff back to LA (we loved your enduring patience, love, and mostly the talks and laughter). We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.

  • Ernest McCaleb

    Mr Smith,

    The beauty of your son jumped off the screen from the moment he appeared. His zeal, determination and sincerity not only speaks to him, but obviously the people who raised him. Thank you so much for giving us Ryan Smith.

  • Crystle Hinson

    I’m from Germany so my English isn’t the best, but what I got from the article it was great! Thank you!

  • Dan Coomer

    Simply a magnificent program. Watched it twice and liked the second viewing more than the first. The marvelous singing, the depth of feeling of the participants, the caring and nurturing by the Met staff in assisting these young talents, the many poignant and joyous moments (”Mama, I won.”) and the wonderful notes at the end of the show telling how these performers continued with their careers. Sadly, the final note was the devastating news about Ryan Smith.

    My deepest condolences to the Smith Family.

  • peggy

    those wanting to buy the DVD. available at

  • peggy

    Today is the 2010 finals. I wish I were in NYC to see it and wish that
    it would be filmed, also. And I hope that Leah Crocetto, an absolutely
    gorgeous soprano wins. Well, she’s from my hometown. Good luck
    to all the wonderful final contestants.

  • Robin

    I love opera and as a New Yorker am fortunate to have seen many performances at The Met over the years, so when I saw that The Audition was going to be on, not really knowing what it was about, I sat down and did not move a muscle for two hours. I was enthralled–by their youth, their voices, their daring, their personalities and by the thought that some day I might see them in person. Similarly, I was shell-shocked by the note at the end about Ryan Smith. Maybe the next time you hear a dazzling songbird in a meadow it will actually be Ryan.

  • Karin Steil

    I missed this program and wonder if you are planning a repeat?

  • Dr. Iris St. John

    We loved watching this film! I taped it to watch again, then erased it by accident. Can you please show it again?

  • Bill Knox

    Wow…. just watched this, and as a 44y.o. life long pUnK & Hard Rocker, whose only knowledge of Opera is from growing up with Loony Tunes & Merry Melodies…. THAT was one of the most enjoyable things if ever watched — Bravo G.P.!

  • Drew

    Although it’s been a few months since I saw this, it still stands out in my mind as one of the highlights of the PBS 2009-2010 season. I was skeptical at first, thinking that this might be full of typical reality-show ploys such as gimmicky mini-contests and backstabbing interview excerpts, but it had none of those. This was a real competition with professional judges and significant consequences for the winners. In addition to the thrilling vocal performances, I appreciated the behind-the-scenes footage that helped us get into the minds of the contestants and judges. Just a great production all around.

  • ally

    Please, please, please, consider showing it again and across the states, not just in one location or another. I saw it twice, but I know so many people who missed it and would like to see it. There is much interest in opera competitions now even from people who don’t know much about it. Thanks.

  • Great women leaders

    That is some inspirational stuff. By no means knew that thoughts could possibly be this varied. Many thanks for all of the enthusiasm to provide such helpful facts below….

  • Sam Waters

    I assure you that the people that win these competitions are not only very good among the best, but THE BEST of the best. Several of them have trained with legends as well so I am sure that if this person is between the age of twenty and thirty she is by no means above ANY of these fantastic competitors.

  • Sam Waters

    OMG! Best thing of my life!!! I am a high schooler who absolutely ADORES opera and one day hopes to make it to the same point of these fabulous performers. Thanks so much to the MET! We need more programs like this! It is inspiring and wins a great deal of interest from people my age!

  • Joan Wilcox

    Overwhelming, the most riveting film event I’ve ever seen. All the singers were beautiful, bless you for making this movie and please show it again and again. Alek Shrader and Ryan Smith will sing for me as long as memory lives.

  • Mac Tidwell

    Alex Shrader will be singing at Spivey Hall in Morrow, GA on Nov. 7, Sunday, at 3:00 p.m. We just got tickets via Spivey Hall on Google.

  • cynthia StAmand

    I immediately fell in love with Ryan Smith’s voice. He was my choice from all the entrants….and I thank God I had even that one chance to hear him sing. Thank you Ryan for sharing such beauty with all of us. Your performance has affected my life in a most positive way. Thank you to his family…. Sincerely C

  • Katherine Hennessy

    We happened to see this show tonight, unexpectedly. My 10 year old son, my husband and I were captivated and could not leave the TV ~ nor could my son go to bed, although it was way past his bed time. Alek and Ryan were our immediate favorites which continued throughout the show and to see their accomplishment be honored with a win, in the end, was amazing. Upon learning of Ryan’s loss ~ we were quite saddened, but then we paused to reflect upon his accomplishment. He obviously lived his life to its fullest and his thrill that we all had the opportunity to witness upon the completion of the finals – captured our hearts and soul and allowed us to rejoice with Ryan. What a gift, we immediately called and ordered this DVD………..amazing! Live each day to its fullest and sing out loud with confidence, head held high!!

  • van

    If you stay at the hotel, can you get a guest pass to the Magic Castle? And if so, can you use it on the same visit???? Thanks for reply

  • Paulette Smith

    I had the good fortune to see The Audition then was able to tape it on another PBS channel. I absolutely adored the program and share with other peoples reactions on Ryan and Alex. However each year must produce a fair number of potential contestants for a spot at the Met. I have not seen any other year broadcast listed in our area. Have there been tryouts for any other year but 2007? Have they been released to PBS? How could I get a listing for my area? Thank you.

  • david ernst

    Hi Paulette,

    The Audition was a documentary by Susan Froemke on the Met Opera National Council Grand Finals in 2007. The finals do occur every year, but they are not necessarily recorded for television every year. As of right now, The Audition is the only current PBS broadcast about the National Council Grand Finals.

    We’re glad you enjoyed the program and hope you stay tuned for other opera offerings on GREAT PERFORMANCES and GP at the Met.

    Thank you.

  • Paulette Smith

    Thanks for the quick reply Mr Ernst.

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