The talents of CCPA’s voice program were showcased last weekend during the annual OperaFest event, which embodied the school’s commitment to showcasing performing arts to the wider community. Established 16 years ago by prior CCPA faculty member Scott Gilmore, the festival was created to prepare students for the rigors of professional performance and utilize various spaces throughout the Roosevelt campus.
Hosted this year in the Auditorium Building’s Murray-Green Library, the event comprised four opera excerpts performed by graduate voice students and presented in chronological order: Act I of Handel’s Serse, a scene from Jules Massenet’s Manon, a scene from Vittorio Giannini’s Beauty and the Beast and the one-act opera R.S.B.E. Remove Your Shoes Before Entering.
The final piece, written by contemporary composer Michael Ching, involved all 17 graduate performers and was presented in the round with singers facing the audience. “That proved to be a fantastic project in terms of collaboration, because everyone was onstage at the same time,” said associate opera professor Dana Brown. “This is a traditionally formless piece that is given some structure by the stage direction, and you’re able to the personae they have identified with.”
This festival resulted from weeks of rehearsal during Opera Ensemble classes earlier in the semester, with students balancing additional coursework with blocking, refining their acting techniques and physically embodying their characters.
"Compared to other productions, the production timeline for this festival was relatively lean, so I can’t praise our amazing students enough,” said Director of Opera Shannon. McGinnis She also credits the students for investigating social justice themes in the material discovering fresh interpretations for a modern audience. “When we surveyed our students last year, we found that students wanted a healthy balance of the mainstream opera repertoire with material that touches on difficult themes like racism and sexual abuse. I think that this year's program balanced those two interests very well."