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Partially deaf BYU singer wins Metropolitan Opera competition

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PROVO — Many people are talking about young college athletes during March Madness, but one BYU student has been rapidly garnering attention after her recent victory at the prestigious Metropolitan Opera competition.

Rebecca Pedersen, 21, has become the second-youngest person to win the Metropolitan Opera competition in its 60-year history. Pedersen's rich and resonant tones impressed the world-class opera judges at the event and helped her to rise above the 1,800 contestants.

"It was just supposed to be a learning experience and it turned into a dream come true," Pedersen said. "Whether or not I made it to the finals, I would be singing on the Met stage. It was surreal. It was a beautiful moment."

Her vocal coach, Professor Darrell Babidge, thought that competing would be a good new challenge for Pedersen. In a two-month period, the BYU sophomore won the district, regional and semifinal competitions.

"She was new to the whole idea of competitions and she just blew it out of the water," Babidge said.

Babidge said that Pedersen has a gift, as well as the discipline to work hard and the maturity to handle an opera career.

Ultimately, they all had things in them I could relate to and so instead of just singing, I was speaking from the heart.

–Rebecca Pedersen

However, the shocking factor of Pedersen's amazing talent is that the opera singer has only been singing for three years. She said that her high school choir experience was not a success.

"I couldn't sing parts for the life of me," Pedersen said. "I'm deaf in one ear so I couldn't sing alto. So my choir teacher's like, 'Well, we'll put her on soprano.' Then it was like, 'Shh, Becca, be quiet.' Because I would stick out like a sore thumb."

However, after a few years of training her voice and ears, she was able to step onto the stage at the Metropolitan Opera House and sing the arias that she loves.

"Ultimately, they all had things in them I could relate to, and so instead of just singing I was speaking from the heart," Pedersen said.

After her victory, Pedersen received offers from agents and opera companies, but she turned them down to continue studying at BYU until she graduates in 2015. In the meantime, she said she would like to gain some experience closer to home.

Pedersen plans to audition for the Utah Opera Company in April.


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Carole Mikita


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