Pikes Peak Opera Theatre of the Rockies came to town this past Sunday, and it was wonderful to see the theatre full of patrons despite the waning days of Indian Summer. It was a gorgeous day and in the back of my mind I was wondering how many more light jacket, sunny days were left to enjoy. Should I be outdoors basking in the sun (charging the batteries before the onslaught of winter) or should I be indoors supporting In Concert, a local philanthropic group that brings classical music to The Valley?
I decided to attend the concert, and I was amply rewarded. Jennifer DeDominici, Desiree Dodson, Shannon Kaye, Daniel Fosha, and Bradley Thompson were in fine form – their voices and command of the stage brought the text to life. I was amazed at the number of roles they had played and the opera companies with whom they had performed. They were so young to have so many professional credits!
I was humbled by the high quality of the performance. There is no money in opera. Most performers have a day job. Imagine the dedication it must take to have a day job, and then during your free time, to leap off the couch to train, practice, and perform. The training is rigorous. The lessons never stop. There is always another lesson, another coach. When do they do their laundry… read a book… or walk the dog? How many of us are so passionate about our vocations that we would take a second job to pay the bills?
On Monday, three performers and Daniel S. Brink (Opera Theatre Music Director/accompanist and Colorado College faculty member) went to Custer County High School where they held a master class for advanced vocal students. What a gift! In these tight financial times, when school budgets and art courses and teachers are being axed, it is gratifying to know that someone is willing to bring a master class to a rural school of 449 K-12 students. Thank you to the In Concert Board for their sponsorship, and thank you to Martile Rowland whose mission is “the advancement of opera in Southern Colorado through performance, education, and training.”
It took considerable courage for the six high schoolers (Rachel Lee, Joe Schneider, Catherine Zeller, Weldon Smith, Carly Dunlap, and Peter Zeller) to stand alone and sing an aria before a discriminating audience. The students’ maturity and talent were impressive. It can’t be easy, especially for boys, to sing opera in high school when the majority of males are focused on football, rodeo, and hunting.
The helpful critiques and the hands-on nurturing of the professional singers made my heart swell. This was highest form of mentoring and teaching. I wanted to jump up and join in. I miss my students.
Many people deserve thanks, but Martile Rowland, founder of the non-profit opera company, rises to the top of the list. She has performed in opera houses throughout America, Europe, Mexico and Brazil. Her professional credits run for pages. Yet, she is committed to music education. In 2006, she was named Classical Singer/Teacher of the Year by Classical Singer Magazine. To that end she brings expertise, enthusiasm, and passion. What a kick to see her sitting stage left, her face wreathed in smiles, her attention focused on her performers, willing them to shine, to give their best performance ever. If every teacher came with those attributes…
Write about your musical background. The music that you made or the music that your parents had hoped that you would make.
Performing in front of any audience is not easy. Create a character who is in the throes stage fright. His head will be whirling with images and fears. Set his internal monologue off in italics.