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Two Western New York singers distinguished themselves in recent Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. They will go on to sing in the Great Lakes regional auditions, to be held Jan. 31 in the Detroit Opera House in Detroit, Mich.

The two local winners are Gillian Lynn Cotter, a soprano from Buffalo, and Kyle Van Schoonhoven, a tenor from Lockport. Cotter sang the role of Frugola in Nickel City Opera’s 2011 production of Puccini’s “Il Tabarro,” staged on the USS The Sullivans. The News praised her at the time as “creative, clear-voiced and funny.”

Other winners from the auditions held in Buffalo were tenor John Riesen of Livonia, Mich.; soprano Danike Loren of Saskatoon, Sask.; and Emily D’Angelo, a mezzo soprano from Toronto.

Encouragement Awards were given to three sopranos: Jessica Lane of Burlington, Ont.; Lindsay Brown of Waterloo; and Suzannah Waddington of Philadelphia. The Buffalo/Toronto district auditions were held Dec. 12 at Nichols School’s Flickinger Performing Arts Center. The grand finals will take place in March on the Metropolitan Opera stage at Lincoln Center, in New York City.

– Mary Kunz Goldman

Shakespeare trods online

The coming year promises to bring global Shakespeare mania, as the 400th anniversary of his death prompts a cavalcade of performances and exhibitions around the world.

In advance of that deluge, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are offering a more unusual view of the playwright’s early celebrity: a meticulous online re-creation of the long-vanished, and wildly popular, first museum dedicated to Shakespeare. The project went live Wednesday.

The three-room Shakespeare Gallery, opened by publisher John Boydell in 1789 on the fashionable Pall Mall in London, closed in 1805. In its day, it was a sensation, attracting emotional crowds who came to gawk at enormous canvases depicting scenes from Shakespeare’s tragedies, comedies and history plays, commissioned from Britain’s leading painters and hung cheek by jowl on the pale blue walls. “It was the Georgian equivalent of binge-watching Shakespeare,” said Janine Barchas, an English professor who led the project.

The digital re-creation – the first detailed visualization of the gallery, scholars say – gives a glimpse of a high-water moment of Bardolatry, not long after the 1769 Shakespeare Jubilee in Stratford-upon-Avon that had helped cement the playwright as a defining national figure. The re-creation also captures a crucial moment in the birth of modern museum culture, with its democratic appeals to the middle class.

– Washington Post