U of U Vocal Students Perform Around the World

November 01 2017
U of U Vocal Students Perform Around the World Photo credit Kristen Loken.

By Adam Griffiths. 

Addison Marlor, second-year U graduate student in vocal performance, had the opportunity to participate as a performer with the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco over the summer. Merola is known for jump-starting careers for young singers, coaches, and directors, by giving them unique performance opportunities and exposure. The Merola program kept Addison quite busy as he and his colleagues participated in almost daily coachings and lessons, multiple performances with the orchestra, a variety of classes, masterclasses, and mock-auditions. This is in addition to putting on fully staged large operas. “This year I had the pleasure of singing the role of Satyavan in Gustav Holst’s ‘Savitri’ for the triple-bill, a night of three one-act operas,” Addison said. “I also was delighted to sing on the main stage of the San Francisco opera for the Merola Grand Finale, which is the last performance of the summer and features all of the Merola participants, or ‘Merolini’, as they are lovingly called.”

The Merola Opera Program understands the financial burden placed on young musicians, and graciously allows young artists to participate free of charge, with housing and a living stipend provided. This is made possible by generous donors of the program. This is a rare occurrence, as most summer young artist programs charge a hefty fee to even participate. Addison said, “I was delighted to find out very soon into my time in San Francisco that there are many avid supporters of opera who become invested in you and your career as they welcome you into the family that Merola has created over the years.” Addison’s voice teachers in his undergraduate and graduate studies, Dr. Tyler Nelson and Dr. Robert Breault respectively, both participated in the Merola Program in years past, and Addison felt privileged to be able to follow in their footsteps.

Addison was one of many current U of U voice majors who performed in programs around the world. Adam Griffiths and Cody Carlson, along with recent graduates Ivana Martinic, Garrett Medlock, and Hilary Koolhoven, participated in the 11 and ½ week program Ohio Light Opera, where they produced seven fully staged operettas and older musical theater works, and sang in over 45 performances each. Jared Lesa attended the intensive three-week Institute for Young Dramatic Voices in Nevada, run by Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick, where he received training through lessons, coachings, acting direction, and body movement instruction. Keanu Aiono-Netzler participated in the SOARS program (Scenes, Opera, Art Song, Recording Session) at the Bay View Music Festival in Michigan. Dana Wirth travelled to Northern Italy to be a part of the Music Academy International, as part of the Trentino Musical Festival, where she performed in two fully-staged operas. Becca Clarke travelled to Bavaria, Germany to participate in the International Performing Arts Institute, where they held masterclasses, dance and acting classes, and produced a Lieder and Opera Scenes concert. David Sauer and recent graduate Genevieve Gannon both played leading roles (Rodolfo in La Bohéme and Zerlina in Don Giovanni) at La Musica Lirica in Italy, directed by the U’s Dr. Robert Breault. Young artist programs are very competitive and it is impressive that there were so many U of U singers that were selected. Programs like these are crucial training experience and exposure to aid singers in starting their professional performing careers. The singers were also happy to represent the University of Utah and know that their experiences will help bring attention and prestige to the U’s vocal program.