School of Music’s Malas guest-teaches Opera Young Artists master class



chad m. weisman

Outside her office on Wednesday afternoon, Marlena Malas bade farewell to a departing singer with the fondest wish a teacher can offer to a student.

“Call me if you need anything.”

The student’s response: “I love you, Marlena.”

At 1:15 p.m. today in Fletcher Music Hall, Malas, voice chair of the School of Music, will lead a master class with a group of four students she’s never met before, in front of an audience of fortunate Chautauquans. The students are from the Chautauqua Opera Company’s Young Artists program.

“I’ve had people tell me they come to Chautauqua specifically for [the master class],” Malas said. “It makes me terrified.”

Malas’ personalized style of teaching — shaped by more than 50 years of experience — makes her master class a rewarding experience for audiences and presents an engaging challenge for her, too.

The challenge lies in personalizing lessons for students she’s never met.

“Nobody is the same, and nobody is going to express themselves the same,” Malas said. “It’s not me telling [a singer] what to do. It’s a give and take between the person that’s giving the class and the person that’s singing.”

Though Marlena has only one session with these four singers, the experience can really make a difference for them.

The first question Marlena Malas asks of her temporary students?

“How can I help you?”