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April 15, 2011
Vol. 52 No. 21

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Opera Studio scenes, repertoire hit a high note

Courtesy of Music Department
SING IT LOUD - Students perform in L'Orfeo for the 2008 Opera Studio production. This years' students will perform scenes from The Crucible.
The Opera Studio performance, a Susquehanna tradition, will take place Sunday, April 17. It will include scenes from four operas, including "The Crucible" and "The Barber of Seville." Every year the Music Department alternates between a full opera and opera scenes.

Freshman Justine Doherty, an alto in "The Crucible," said that she was surprised to find out how much fun opera can be. "My voice teacher suggested it to me," she said, "but I didn't think I would like it. I didn't think I had that vibrato range."

Instead, she learned that opera is "a far more diverse experience" than what most people expect.

She said that when people hear the word opera they think of "an old fat woman in a Brunhilda costume, belting trill notes with lots of vibrato."

However, Doherty said that it's much more than that. She said that it is a combination of theatre and music.

"Opera is a new direction from musical theatre," Doherty said.

Senior tenor Ira Barth agreed. His favorite part of the performance is the amount of variety of opera scenes. He said that it is not only an opportunity for many people to perform but also a chance to expose audiences to a variety of opera stories.

Senior soprano Allison Bramnick has taken part in Opera Studio for all of her four years at Susquehanna. "The process of putting a show onstage is always lots of fun," she said. She added that it keeps her busy. After an audition process, 26 students ranging from freshmen to seniors were chosen for the performance. They were then given materials for the performance before Winter Break and expected to begin practicing on their own.

Senior baritone Timothy Gonzalez said: "I love experiencing the evolution of a scene throughout the course of the semester... Often times, we begin the semester with very frustrating rehearsals littered with mistakes. By the time the performance rolls around, however, the scenes have truly developed and taken shape."

"I think my most favorite part is when we finally reach the final product and we are able to perform on stage. We work months on these scenes and it is really rewarding to see what our hard work accomplishes," sophomore Kevin Traux said.

However, Traux added: "The rehearsal process can be grueling at times with everything else going on in our lives, but I do really enjoy the whole process of putting on the opera scenes... When we were finished with learning the music and we moved on to the actual staging, that is when the real fun begins."

He said that the opportunity to come together with other students and "create something truly spectacular" is the greatest reward of the performance.

Associate Professor of Music David Steinau supervises the students in preparing for "Opera Scenes." Adjunct Professor of Music Sasha Piastro-Tedford will direct "The Crucible."

For seniors Bramnick, Barth and Gonzalez, this will be their last time to perform as students with the Music Department. Bramnick said, "It is sad, in a way, but I am looking forward to moving on." Gonzalez said: "While this is my last performance here at SU, I certainly hope that it is not my last operatic performance. I really enjoy singing opera, and I hope that opera is a very important part of my career."

Barth said that this year's performance is a special opportunity because "it is the last time I get to sing with these people at SU."

He said that the friends he met through the performance are irreplaceable. He described them as "a fun and energetic group of singers and friends" and said it has been a privilege to work with them and get to know them.

Doherty added, "Music can express emotions as well as acting," a strong encouragement to come see a good presentation of the often-misunderstood world of opera.

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