Displaying items by tag: Singing

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.

Published in Finer Points Blog

by Adam Griffiths

Brian Manternach, Assistant Professor (Clinical) in the U of U Department of Theatre, is a man of many hats. Like most voice teachers, he has an extensive performance career, but what makes him stand out are his numerous achievements in vocal science and pedagogy research. Brian is the chapter head of the local division of NATS (National Association for Teachers of Singing), an organization which meets regularly to discuss how to improve vocal pedagogy in the voice studio. Additionally he serves as Associate Editor, and regularly authors and co-authors articles in the NATS periodical The Journal of Singing. He also writes regularly in a book review column, “The Singer’s Library,” for the Classical Singer magazine.

Brian uses his love of vocal science to directly affect those he teaches. Last year he gave a talk at TEDxSaltLakeCity about why singing is an activity people should all be able to benefit from and enjoy. In that talk, he cited studies that indicate how singing can lead to increased physical and psychological well being. By the end of the talk, he had the entire audience singing “You Are My Sunshine” with him.

He says, “What draws me to singing the most is the opportunity to collaborate with others and to build relationships through the shared human experience of singing together. In the same way, the research projects in which I’m most interested do not involve one person hidden away in a lab somewhere. For me, it’s all about like-minded people who are enthusiastic about a topic sharing what they have to contribute in order to hopefully learn something new. And when we do find something new, it’s exciting to be able to share that through presentations, publications, and in our teaching.”

Coming from the performance and teaching world, Brian says that he doesn’t have the research background to do a lot of work on his own. He states, “I rely on others who have a much greater understanding of research methods and acoustic analysis techniques to help carry out the studies we do. I’m particularly indebted to the U’s National Center for Voice and Speech and their associate director, Dr. Lynn Maxfield — a brilliant voice scientist who is truly committed to bringing vocal science and art together.” This past June, Brian and Dr. Maxfield presented research in Philadelphia at the Voice Foundation’s Annual Symposium: Care of the Professional Voice. “For that study we played audio clips of professional and student singers for professional casting directors to see how the casting directors would evaluate their sound.” That research has recently been published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Voice, which is “widely regarded as the world’s premiere journal for voice and medicine and [voice] research.”

This month Brian presented at the Pan American Vocology Association (PAVA) Symposium in Toronto, in collaboration with Dr. Maxfield and Dr. Jeremy Manternach (his brother), an Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of Iowa. He will also present at the NATS Conference in Las Vegas next summer. Regardless of how busy he gets, he will always prioritize his work as a teacher. “I have had wonderful, inspiring, patient teachers throughout my life and I’m really passionate about doing my best to fill that role for others.”

Published in Finer Points Blog

Giacomo Puccini is one of opera’s most famous composers. His music permeates the great opera halls of the world and even makes its way in to movies and television advertising advertisements. His opera “La Rondine” has been maligned and un-appreciated for a host of reasons. The music is certainly beautiful: Magda's Aria di Doretta is well-known and beloved, but most people have a hard time humming anything else from this wonderful score.

By guest writer Robert Breault.

As both a singer and a director, I've been involved in five productions of “La Rondine” and I've appreciated the complexity and intricate structure more and more with each visit. As a director, sharing it with audiences in Italy remains one of my most significant professional achievements. For the first time in my 24 years as the U’s Director of Opera, I’ll direct a fantastic student cast as we present “La Rondine” in historic, Kingsbury Hall with the incomparable Utah Philharmonia under Dr. Robert Baldwin. It’s my hope that we’ll change some minds about this under-appreciated gem.

lan rondine poster

The opera deals primarily with love. The poet Prunier sarcastically exclaims early in Act I: "In elegant Paris people are falling in love...old fashioned, sentimental love is all the rage!" We've been taught that art imitates life and nature. In essence, the concept mimesis holds that the creation of art is relative to, and directly inspired by, the physical world which was held to be a model for truth, beauty, and what was considered "good". Throughout Western history, Nature was the inspiration for writers, painters and musicians. Oscar Wilde, in his 1889 essay "The Decay of Lying", noted that "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life". It is within this context of "life imitating art" that I chose to set and illuminate "La Rondine".

Early in the show we find our heroine Magda decides to visit one of the many famous night clubs, whose façades lit up the sky, and whose dance floors were redolent with the smells and sounds of the all-night waltz, the champagne-induced frivolity, and the endless quest for a good time. She is one of the most famous courtesans in Paris but finds herself trapped in a cage of opulence and duty which she finds tiring. I've set the opera in the lead-up to the outbreak of WWI, a war which saw the end of the era in Paris known as "La Belle Époque". Magda is led to a one of many famous night clubs, whose façades lit up the sky, were redolent with the smells and sounds of the all-night waltz, the champagne-induced frivolity, and the endless quest for a good time. Will the happiness she finds there last? Throughout the story, she is lead into fantasy inspired by art and music. Will she trade the riches and opulence of the demi-monde for true love? The Swallow (La Rondine) flies to the land of love and happiness. Will she remain in her new-found world with Ruggero, the love of her life - is that world reality, or mere fantasy? Puccini, with the pen of a mature and brilliant composer, accompanies Magda on the path to her past, present, and to the tragedy of her future. Come join us for the journey!

LA RONDINE runs 4/21 - 4/22 at Kingsbury Hall.
U of U student tickets are FREE, non- U students with ID are $10, general public tickets are $20
youth 18 and under are $10, U staff/faculty save 10% with ID.
Tickets available at music.utah.edu

Published in Finer Points Blog