Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Student opera class showcases singing skills

Today, Thursday, Dec. 3, students in Whitman’s opera class will be showcasing their talents. The showcase takes place at 7:30 p.m. in Chism Hall and is the culmination of a semester’s worth of work with Music Lecturer Dr. Monica Griffin Hunter’s class.

Opera is a rare form of music on campus, so both the performance and the class leading up to it offer unique opportunities for musically-inclined students.

“I am a music major and I want to pursue a career in music, and so having this music performance experience is very valuable. It is a lot of fun. I really enjoy it — the people are great, the music is great,” said sophomore soprano Olivia Coackley.

Olivia Coakley (2017), Jack Wheeler (2017), Caitlyn Yoshina (2015) rehearsing for the show.
Olivia Coakley (2017), Jack Wheeler (2017), Caitlyn Yoshina (2015) rehearsing for the show. Photo by Marra Clay.

The performance will display scenes from eight different operas. Scenes are taken from several different operas, including “The Magic Flute,” “Don Giovanni,” “Cosi Fan Tutte,” “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and “Die Fledermaus.” Musicians will also perform the famous duet from “Lakme.”

The performers have been practicing their roles in their respective scenes from the different operas since the start of this semester, beginning with auditions.

“There is an audition process for the course; selected students must also be enrolled in voice lessons,” said Griffin Hunter.

Practice was key in preparing for the showcase. Within three weeks of the start of fall semester, students were rehearsing their roles.

“We have been working on our opera scenes once a week for about three months now,” said junior tenor Nathanael Fleming.

Students are involved in the showcase for a variety of reasons. Some auditioned for the opportunity of gaining opera experience, while some students are trying something new and fun.

“Last year, I saw the opera scenes performance and it looked like so much fun and decided to be a part of it next year,” said Coackley.

Students in the showcase represent a range of experience levels, but all students have been practicing their performances together in class. Some students have sung in opera and understand the music and history, while some students are new to the performance.

“I’ve never sung an opera before and opera has never been my forte, but it is something I have wanted to grow at with my voice,” said Fleming. “Singing opera is different for me and a different mindset of how I let my voice ring throughout the hall and how I let it vibrate, which has been something new and cool for me to do.”

Brenna Feeney (2016) during a rehearsal. Photo by Marra Clay.
Brenna Feeney (2016) during a rehearsal. Photo by Marra Clay.

In addition to rehearsals, research is key to the opera class.

“The students study the opera, find out who their characters are and what happens to them throughout the entire opera. This is part of the class as well. They study their character and scenes, learn their vocal parts and put everything together with their scene partners and the music,” said Griffin Hunter.

The featured opera selections were chosen based on the students in the class. After auditions, Griffin Hunter spent time finding music appropriate for the group of students.

“It’s different. It depends on the students who audition for the class. You have to consider voice types and vocal qualities and abilities for both male and female roles; finding repertoire that fits all qualified individuals is a challenging part of the process,” said Griffin Hunter.

Like all live performances, the students are very excited about the opportunity to perform and present all their time and hard work that was put into the making of this performance.

“I’m excited to be putting on a good performance, showing off to people that opera is a different kind of performance, but there are people who can and are interested in operas,” said Fleming.

The showcase will employ lights, costumes, makeup and props. All of these requirements were facilitated with the help of the Department of Theatre.

“In the last few years, the opera performances have been one of the times that the theatre department and music department have worked together on something this big, but we hope to change that. I know we are looking to do a full opera soon in collaboration with the theatre department,” said Griffin Hunter.

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