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Opera Students Take Third Place at National Competition in New York City

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JANUARY 13, 2014Three music majors representing The University of Texas at Brownsville won third place at the National Opera Association Convention held Jan. 9-12 in New York City.

Students Connie Lopez, Azalea Laredo and Robert Reyna departed Brownsville on Tuesday, Jan. 7 to sing in the Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition, where they competed against four other schools from across the nation.

Dr. Daniel Hunter-Holly, students Connie Lopez, Azalea Laredo and Robert Reyna, staff accompanist Laura Brumbaugh and Dr. Nicole Asel are in the grand ballroom of the Roosevelt Hotel following the competition and presentation of the awards.

The scene performed by Lopez, Laredo and Reyna was selected by Dr. Daniel Hunter-Holly, and Dr. Nicole Asel, Assistant Professors in the Department of Music, is from Gaetano Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment.)

Mezzo-soprano Lopez, a music education major who graduated from Harlingen High School South in 2011, played the role of a noble woman, the Marquise de Birkenfield, who tries to turn the Regiment’s daughter into a proper young lady.

During this trip I was exposed to a world I had only dreamt about,” Lopez said. “I’m happy to say that I’ll be leaving knowing that this dream could very well be my future.”

Baritone Reyna, a junior vocal performance major who graduated from Harlingen High School in 2010, played Sulpice, a sergeant in the regiment. Soprano Laredo, a senior vocal performance major who graduated from high school in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2010, played Marie, a young woman who was adopted by the Regiment many years before.

“This has been hard work, but we have enjoyed every minute of it,” said Laredo “We are singing in French, so that made this selection even more challenging.”

Along with Hunter-Holly and Asel, staff pianist Laura Brumbaugh accompanied the three students to the convention.

“We have received so many positive comments from colleagues,” Hunter-Holly said. “This really has been an extraordinary experience for all of us.”

Schools were selected to compete by the National Opera Association from audition videos, with the finalists placed into undergraduate and graduate categories. The ages of the students in UTB’s audition video were in the higher category; therefore, Lopez, Laredo and Reyna, all undergraduates, competed against older students in the graduate category.  Wichita State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder won first and second places, respectively.

On their first day in New York City, the group visited the Ford Foundation and enjoyed a private dinner hosted by the President of the Ford Foundation. They also received a behind-the-scenes tour of Carnegie Hall.

Along with attending the activities at the conference, the group attended a Broadway musical, The Lion King,and they saw the opera Falstaff by Verdi at the Metropolitan Opera.

For more information on the Bravo Opera Company and the Department of Music, contact Dr. Hunter-Holly at 956-882-7178 or


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