25-year-old Redding Singer Wins “the American Idol of Opera”


Sydney Mancasola, a Redding soprano, can be heard in a live webcast today – March 11 – at 4 p.m. (7 p.m. Eastern time).

 NEW YORK: Sydney Mancasola, 25, of Redding, was selected as one of six 2013  Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winners. In the world of opera, this is a very big deal.

Often referred to as the “American Idol” of opera, the National Council Auditions is considered the most prestigious contest in opera, giving singers ages 20 to 30 a chance to perform in front of some of the nation’s top managers and talent scouts. Finalists are chosen from a field of 1,500 from across the U.S., auditioned at the district and regional levels.

Monday at 4 p.m. (7 p.m. Eastern time) – Mancasola, a soprano, joined her fellow 2013 winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions at The Greene Space at WQXR in New York. The event, which was featured in a webcast on WQXR’s webpage, marked the winners’ first New York performance following the grand finals. They were joined by bass baritone Eric Owens as the group performed a varied program of operatic selections.


National Council Audition winners (left to right) Brandon Cedel, Sydney Mancasola, Michael Brandenburg, Rebecca Pedersen, Musa Ngqungwana, Thomas Richards Photo courtesy of: Rebecca Fay/Metropolitan Opera

Those interested in hearing the opera singers clicked here to hear the live performance Monday, March 11 at 4 p.m. (7 p.m. Eastern time). 

In addition to Mancasola, the 2013 winners include four other Americans: Michael Brandenburg, a 26-year-old tenor from Austin, Ind.; Brandon Cedel, a 25-year-old bass-baritone from Hershey, Pa.; Rebecca Pedersen, a 21-year-old soprano from Bountiful, Utah; and Thomas Richards, a 24-year-old bass-baritone from Burnsville, Minn., and one South African, Musa Ngqungwana, a 28-year-old bass-baritone from Port Elizabeth, South Africa.


Redding native Sydney Mancasola, second from the left, joins the other opera winners. – by Rebecca Fay Photography

Each of the winners will receive $15,000. And each of the four semifinalists will receive $5,000.

Sunday anewscafe.com contacted Sydney Mancasola for a comment about her award.

“One of the most wonderful things about today was hearing the audience’s reaction to my singing,” she said.

“I could feel the support of the audience, and win or lose, that is my first priority. If I can touch an audience, I have achieved my goal of communicating what these incredible composers have intended. As I get ready to go to bed tonight I have on my mind the people who have supported me and helped me get this far, my family, my amazing teachers William Stone and Daune Mahy, and many other amazing mentors.  This certainly wouldn’t have been possible without their constant encouragement.”

Sydney Mancasola is the daughter of John and Molly Mancasola of Redding.

The Mancasola family joined Sydney at The Met in New York. From left, Matteo Giovanni Mancasola, Sydney Mancasola, John Mancasola, Molly Mancasola and Kiira Mancasola. (Photo courtesy of Sydney Mancasola)

_ Adapted from a WQXR article

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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14 Responses

  1. Randall R Smith Randall R Smith says:

    Like the Sundial Bridge her father brought to Redding, Sydney's achievement is simply stunning! Congratulations!!

  2. What a gal! Looks like there's another name to add to the "Famous Homeschoolers" list.

    You can "like" Sydney's Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/sydney.mancasola.soprano

  3. Avatar Judy salter says:

    She is a beauty is so many ways we are Sll so proud of her.

  4. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    What beautiful, enriched children live in that family. Thank you John and Molly for sharing these amazing humans with the rest of the world. And, along with Sydney's family, a couple of other Reddingites were there to share with her. Sherie Eby (string teacher at Redding School of the Arts) posted some additional pictures on her FaceBook page.

    I tell you, we've raised some amazing talents in this town!!

  5. Avatar Ronda Paris says:

    Simply beautiful! So inspiring sweet cousin……you are SO amazing! Love you! xo

  6. Avatar Doreen Olson says:

    Many, many congratulations! I loved the family photo! I can remember all the kids as babies and preschoolers. This makes me want to treat all liitle folk with more respect—-you ever know who they will turn out to be! Hugs!

  7. Hey, everyone, quick, the performance is warming up now. Click here to hear Sydney and the other Met winners. http://www.wqxr.org/#!/articles/wqxr-features/201

    Hope that long link works 🙂

    • Avatar sharon chesnut says:

      Hi Doni – thanks so much for this link to her performance – it worked great and she is amazing. I remember her so well as a little one along with her family who visited our toy store..always a delight when they came in – interesting, fun, smart, and gracious all in one package!

      I appreciate "news cafe" keeping me informed and connected. Sharon

      • Thank you, Sharon. I listened to the performance, too. What a world, where technology can bring us closer and allow access to such wonderful things.

        I appreciate your kind words about anewscafe.com. Can you believe we're 6 years old now? You, and many other readers, have been with us since the start, and for that, I thank you! 🙂

  8. Avatar Carrie Dokter says:

    Sydney has a beautiful voice! Thank you Doni for this information to be able to see and hear her.

  9. She performed beautifully, and did a terrific job during her post-performance on-stage interview, too. Brava, Sydney!

  10. Avatar Canda says:

    Doni, thank you so much for posting the link to Sydney's performance and interview. What a beautiful and talented young woman. Her interview showed her intelligence and fun personality. Way to go, Sydney. You've made your home town so proud!

  11. Avatar Kirsten says:

    How abso-blooming- lutely WONNERFUL!! When will we have the pleasure to hear her here in Redding????? cannot wait! CONGRATULATIONS!

  12. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Sorry I missed that performance. She must be a wonderful performer. The Mancasola family has to be so proud; and they are a wonderful family!