Arts & Culture 

NAU alumna developing a music career

NAU alumna, Mary Kray, ’20, received the Encouragement Award at the Rocky Mountain Region Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition.

Mary Kray has a powerful presence on stage. As a mezzo-soprano, Kray sings full, lush notes in tones ranging from high and fiery to deep and smooth. She graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2020 with a bachelor’s in Vocal Performance. “Along with developing my musicianship at NAU, I also developed life-long friendships and a clear view of what I want for my future,” Kray said. She will be attending Boston Conservatory this fall for a Master of Music in Opera Performance degree.

She performed in several operas with NAU Lyric Theater, including roles such as Margaret in Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza and Third Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. She continues to perform professionally and in competitions. In addition to pursuing her own singing career, she offers voice lessons and music theory tutoring. “My music education at NAU has allowed me to start my own teaching practice and has paved the way for me to become the musician that I am today,” Kray said.

Building her opera career

Receiving the Encouragement Award from The Metropolitan National Council is not only an honor for young opera singers, but it is also hard-earned. The Metropolitan Opera National Council bills their auditions as a chance to discover and assist promising young opera singers. Auditions take place in 39 districts in the US, Mexico, and Canada. From the district, winners advance to auditions in one of 12 regions, and then regional winners advance to the semi-finals. The singers typically need to offer four contrasting arias—in two languages—and demonstrate not only their vocal talents but also stage presence.

Kray was one of three winners from the Arizona district. She then competed, along with ten other district winners, at the Rocky Mountain Region Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition.

Professor Todd Sullivan, former director of the School of Music, shared the news that Kray received the Encouragement Award at the regional audition. “At age twenty-two, Mary was the youngest competitor and one of three to receive an Encouragement Award,” Sullivan said. “She is an exceptional vocal talent, who will continue to be a stellar representative of the NAU School of Music as her operatic career develops.”

Competitions give opera singers stage practice, feedback from professionals, and opportunities to meet other aspiring opera singers—all helpful for a music career. “I have many career goals, but my main passion is opera,” Kray said. “I hope to be a professional singer, songwriter, and composer.”

Photo credit: Emilio Ferrara