Emily Richter (center) is joined by the other four winners of the Met opera competition.
Emily Richter '20 (center) is one of five winners of the Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition. She is joined by (from left) Daniel Espinal, Meridian Prall, Lydia Grindatto, and Navasard Hakobyan. (Photo courtesy of Karen Almond / Met Opera)

Lawrence University alumna Emily Richter ’20 has joined impressive company in being named a winner of a prestigious 2024 Metropolitan Opera competition.

Richter, a soprano who was a standout performer during her undergraduate years in Lawrence’s Conservatory of Music, is one of five rising opera singers named winners of the Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition, an annual showcase that has helped launch numerous opera careers, among them Denyce Graves, Renée Fleming, and Lawrence Brownlee.

Richter was one of 10 finalists who performed March 17 at the Met Opera’s Grand Finals Concert, hosted by Graves, a competition alumna. The singers each performed two arias on the iconic Met stage, accompanied by the Met Orchestra and conducted by Evan Rogister. Five winners were then announced, including Richter.

Emily Richter '20
Emily Richter '20

“This has been my dream for so many years,” Richter said as she traveled Monday from New York back to Pittsburgh, where she is a second-year resident artist with the Pittsburgh Opera. “To say I’m humbled, honored, and grateful to be here would be an understatement. I had the most exciting week of my life, and singing with that orchestra was nothing short of joyous.”

Richter studied music performance (voice) and performed in the Opera Theatre program at Lawrence before going on to earn her master's degree from McGill University's Schulich School of Music.

“I’m so grateful for my time at Lawrence that didn’t just teach me how to sing but taught me how to feel and think deeply about the world,” Richter said. 

Beginning in May, Richter will join Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Center Ensemble.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled,” she said.

Combine technique-building workshops with genre-defying operatic experiences to hone your skills as a singing actor.

Richter was named a winner in the Met competition along with tenor Daniel Espinal, soprano Lydia Grindatto, baritone Navasard Hakobyan, and mezzo-soprano Meridian Prall. In addition to a $20,000 cash prize, the win comes with great prestige and opportunities to network.

The competition is operated at the district and region levels across the United States, Canada, and Mexico before finalists are named for the Grand Finals Concert. Richter came through the Great Lakes Region. The competition, now in its 70th year, was formerly known as the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Emily Richter performs in "The Marriage of Figaro" in 2020 while a student at Lawrence.
Emily Richter '20 performs in The Marriage of Figaro during her senior year at Lawrence. 

While at Lawrence, Richter performed in numerous ensembles and operas, including taking on the role of Countess in The Marriage of Figaro during her senior year in 2020. Her performance would help earn Lawrence a national honor in the 2021 American Prize Awards.

Copeland Woodruff, director of opera studies and associate professor of music at Lawrence, said Richter was a "rock star" in the making during her time in the Conservatory.

"She always brings a curiosity, a humanity, and an infectious, warm spirit into any space she enters," Woodruff said. "I could not be happier for her, for her successes so far, and the myriad ahead of her. I am lucky to have learned alongside her."

Richter’s time at the Pittsburgh Opera has included performances as the title character of Iphigénie en Tauride and Ginevra in Ariodante. She has sung Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and the Governess in The Turn of the Screw at McGill, covered Micaëla in Carmen at the Santa Fe Opera, and made her debut with the Seattle Symphony as a soloist in Handel's Messiah.