Music: Trial Songs at the Met

Under the Metropolitan Opera's harsh proscenium lights, the interior of St. Katherine's Church looked sadly tattered. The backdrop sagged, and the huge carved chair from which Walther von Stolzing sings his trial song in the first act of Die Meistersinger was pushed to one side. But out in the cavernous auditorium sat a crowd of invited guests, waiting for another kind of trial song. The occasion: the Met's first public talent audition.

In past years the winners of the Met's annual regional auditions got a chance to sing on the radio. This year, with...

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