Opera Scenes to give Voice students a chance to showcase talents

For Voice Program students who might not have landed a leading role in Ariodante or La bohème, Opera Scenes gives them a chance to enjoy a moment in the spotlight.

At 7:30 p.m. today and 4 p.m. tomorrow in Fletcher Music Hall, 30 students will perform scenes from an array of operas — a few being Lehar’s The Merry Widow, Strauss’ Arabella and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro — over a two-day period.

Don St. Pierre, voice coach and music director of the program, said this production is gigantic. With 10 scenes today and 11 tomorrow, finding the time to execute Opera Scenes is a challenge.

“It gives all of our students an opportunity to perform opera scenes they will be challenged by,” St. Pierre said. “And how we manage to do it in the time we have baffles me.”

Audiences should plan to attend both nights — each evening will be vastly different from the other, he said.

Assistant stage director Mikhaela Mahony said the production is an incredible learning experience for the students as well as the faculty. The difference in styles is important and exciting, and the techniques that are learned for the Opera Scenes are blended with the vocal talent singers already have.

“Acting is a challenge. It’s really amazing to see them do so much,” Mahony said. “I think the challenge becomes finding those moments of stillness and honesty and truth in the work.”

Students are all assigned pieces to perform, although some do ask for the scenes they are interested in. Opera provides a beautiful way to connect and expand students’ skills, she said. It takes energy and a level of ardor unique to these artists to execute a scene.

“It’s a playground to stretch themselves and to grow,” Mahony said. “It has that energy to it. You take that energy and you throw it into the scene and create this live experience where people are discovering things within the moment.”

The fervor that flows from these 30 Voice Program students is something Mahony recommends all Chautauquans are exposed to.

“There’s so many exciting things in this world,” Mahony said. “Opera is one of them. And I want to be a part of it.”