Epic storm no problem for SUNY Fredonia graduate student and Met district winner

Marketing and Communications staff
Mia Mandineau by Adanya Dunn

Mia Mandineau (photo by Adanya Dunn)

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…” oh no, that’s for postal delivery persons – but now includes SUNY Fredonia soprano and graduate student Mia Mandineau, who delivered an award-winning performance Jan. 13 at the Buffalo-Toronto District of the Metropolitan Opera’s Laffont Competition.

Held at Nichols School in Buffalo, Ms. Mandineau was one of three winners including soprano Hannah Crawford and mezzo-soprano Simona Genga. The trio will go on to the Great Lakes Region round of competition in Pittsburgh, PA, on Saturday, Jan. 20.

Encouragement Awards were presented to sopranos Alexa Frankian and Sofia Scattarreggia, mezzo-soprano Madison Hoerbelt and tenor Hayden Smith.

Mandineau was accompanied by SUNY Fredonia faculty member and pianist Dr. Anne Kissel, who will also travel to Pittsburgh to accompany her for the next round of the competition. It was Mandineau’s first time performing in the Met competition and works offered to the adjudicators included, “Deh se piacer mi vuoi” from Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito,” “Here on this corner” from Kevin Puts’ “The Hours,” “Stridono lassú” from Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci” and “Senza mamma” from Puccini’s “Suor Angelica.”

In her words, Ms. Mandineau described the experience:

"The SUNY Fredonia support is outstanding, it felt like I had family with me.” - Mia Mandineau

“I still cannot believe I won! I am so grateful to the amazing team of teachers who came to support me: Dr. Kissel, who played with me on stage and who will play with me again on Saturday in Pittsburgh for the Regionals, [SUNY Distinguished Teaching] Professor Newell, who made sure I was safe and sound during the biggest winter storm I’ve ever experienced, and Professor Marrazzo, who has been my voice teacher for almost seven years now and whose work has been life-changing. The SUNY Fredonia support is outstanding, it felt like I had family with me.”

On the advice of SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Julie Newell, the soprano went up to Buffalo on Friday night ahead of the storm. Ms. Newell, Dr. Kissel, voice Professor Joe Dan Harper, and Don Marrazzo - who is Mandineau’s voice teacher, director of Opera Studies, Hillman Opera producer, and assistant professor of Voice at SUNY Fredonia – followed on Saturday. After receiving the exciting results, returning home was another story – the trio of Mandineau, Marrazzo and Newell left north Buffalo in an ice storm which transitioned into heavy snow. They were finally forced into a hotel in Hamburg on late Saturday afternoon, not returning to Fredonia until Monday morning.

Originally from Paris, Mandineau came to study at SUNY Fredonia because she had always dreamed of living and starting her career in the United States and when her teacher, Professor Marrazzo, joined the School of Music faculty, he suggested “this would be a wonderful place for me to start my American dream. (He was right!)”

As a first-year graduate assistant, Mandineau is responsible for Hillman Opera’s social media presence and assisted with many aspects of  Hillman’s production of Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus,” in November 2023.

“I’m thrilled for Mia - her performance in the Metropolitan Opera's Laffont Competition was excellent. She possesses a beautiful and impressive voice, a compelling stage presence, and is a highly sophisticated and nuanced artist.”- Assistant Professor Don Marrazzo

Marrazzo noted, “I’m thrilled for Mia - her performance in the Metropolitan Opera's Laffont Competition was excellent. She possesses a beautiful and impressive voice, a compelling stage presence, and is a highly sophisticated and nuanced artist. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching Mia since 2017 and am inspired by her talent and tireless commitment to the development of her craft. Since beginning her studies at Fredonia in August, Mia has received this honor from the Laffont Competition, been accepted into a very prestigious summer training program, and received a First Place prize from the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition. In addition to her studies and work as a performer, Mia is passionate about arts education. As the founder of the highly successful YouTube channel L’Opéra et ses Zouz, she enjoys collaborations with internationally acclaimed artists and opera companies. I am very proud of Mia and believe she has the potential to have an important international singing career. We are delighted to have her at SUNY Fredonia!”

Story Update: Mandineau competed Jan. 20 in the Great Lakes Region round. Ms. Newell reported afterwards that while Mandineau was "spectacular today," she was not selected to proceed to the next round of the competition.

On another happy [vocal] note – Fredonia School of Music alumna Stephanie Doche, ’14, won second place in the D'Angelo Young Artist Vocal Competition, also held over the weekend. Ms. Doche most recently made her Pittsburgh (PA) Opera debut in the role of Rosina in “The Barber of Seville” in October 2023. It’s a role she performed with Florida Grand Opera and Gulfshore Opera earlier in the year. At Fredonia, she was a student of Professor Emeritus Daniel Ihasz.

The Fredonia School of Music has historically been well represented in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, now known as the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition. Most recently, SUNY Fredonia alumni tenor Kyle van Schoonhoven, ’11, was named a Winner at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals Concert in 2017, soprano Danielle Beckvermit, ’15, was a Grand Finalist in 2018 and mezzo-soprano Amanda Lynn Bottoms, ’14, was a Regional Finalist in 2019.


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