musi c educat i on and opera
Collaborative, submission based magazine for the 21st Century Opera Enthusiast
magazine Editor in chief Jennifer Choi www.operaswag.wordpress.com Editor Kim Feltkamp www.kimberlyfeltkamp.com Contact Opera21 www.opera21.tumblr.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Announcement The theme for the upcoming issue is 21st century operas. Guidelines for submissions can be found on our website.
Cover credit Thanks to Diane Bates (sudsyoperacat) Portrait based on photo by Andrew Eccles, Decca.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part is prohibited without written permission. The opinions expressed in Opera21 do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publisher.
O21 Table of Contents
Volume 1 No. 8
3 Letter from the Editor Jennifer Choi
5 Non-music Education Ilana Walder-‐Biesanz
7 The Diva who Walks the Walk: An Interview with Renée Fleming Jennifer Choi
10 My Life as a Cog Griffin Candey
11 Reasons Why I'm Teaching Music and not Math Kaela Talley
13 The True Face of Music in Brazil Isabela Zogaib
15 Music Education in France Lucie Knecht-‐Deyber 16 Review: Do great Voices Sing John Denver? Kevin Ng 17 Come Scoglio* Parts 10 & 11 Kimberly Feltkamp *Featured Novella, in parts
26 Opera Companies: Outreach Programs in America Valerie Demma Jane Hoffman Naomi Sankaran
Letter From the Editor I was fortunate enough to grow up in a district with one of the strongest arts programs in the entire state. My high school band teacher is on the short-‐list for the first ever Grammy Category for best music teacher. We used to ask him why he never accepted a guest conducting position for the local region band, which was comprised of students who were admitted via blind auditions, and he would joke and say, “I’ll conduct the region band when the entire region Wind Ensemble is made up of my students.” After a while, this went from being a joke to near reality. My younger brother, who recently graduated from the program, told me that so many of his classmates had been accepted into the program that rehearsal at region band felt like regular wind ensemble class at school. However, as the economy suffers and budget cuts have become a normal part of our conversation, I see many programs across the state struggle to provide the same, high quality education with a smaller amount of money. Our program has braved the cuts fairly well; because of the sheer size of the program and the dedication of the band parents, it has been able to sustain itself through fundraising events. Other districts do not have this kind of luxury. I recently sat down with Morna McDermott McNulty, a professor of education at Towson University. She does a lot of work with arts integration in schools, and we had a great conversation about the importance of arts integration and the current policy trends in education that are affecting the arts. She says that enough studies have been conducted to prove the benefits of arts education. “There are scads and scads of research that say that music education improves tests scores in math, that it improves reading ability, that having PE right before reading lessons improves reading. There is so much research out there, and it’s been around for 30 years. None of this is new […] We don’t need more research. The proof is so undeniable! Yet when we talk about improving schools around the country, arts is the first thing we cut.” I genuinely believe that arts education is crucial for our democracy and for the well-‐being and progress of society. In a recent blog post, I talked about how art is just as important as other disciplines, including the sciences, because art is another means to “find truth, truth about the human condition, truth about the world around us, and the truth about how we as humans interact with each other and with the world around us.” The conversation about arts education is one that our generation needs to not only continue but also bring to the forefront. It is up to us to advocate. It is up to us to fight for the arts. For those of us who love opera, the future of this industry is closely tied to arts education. I hope that you not only read the articles in this issue, but that you send us feedback. Tell us your stories about music education and why you think arts education is vital; this way, the conversation can continue! Happy reading! -‐Jennifer Choi
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Non-music Education Ilana Walder-Biesanz course.” Sarah van der Ploeg gave a similar response: “I definitely had a lot to learn—I discovered that my knowledge of even major opera plots, characters, and singers was well behind many of my colleagues.” I also wondered whether lacking the educational credentials made it difficult to get auditions for opera companies, Master’s programs, or Young Artist Programs. Sarah van der Ploeg wrote that her M.Mus. program at the Royal Academy of Music didn’t require a B.Mus., and that that was part of her motivation to go to the UK for her studies. Mary Bevan also studied at RAM: “These were performance-‐related courses and didn't require any academic musical knowledge, so there was no problem in getting auditions. My degree had no bearing at all on my getting a place.” As the only one of the three who did not pursue a graduate degree, Sarah Gabriel encountered more obstacles: “I didn't do a graduate programme, and it was definitely harder (in fact, pretty much impossible) to get auditions without an official singing qualification. I think that a lot of opera companies, particularly British ones, have a very simple cut-‐off for offering audition slots. Perhaps understandably, official singing training seemed to be the crucial criterion when I applied to audition. […] So the onus is on the maverick singer to find other ways. (Essentially, we have more rungs to climb, and we need to do this by finding (or making) performing opportunities and experiences that prove we're good). By luck, I went for a coaching in New York when I was on holiday there; the coach was encouraging and sent my details to the conductor, Lorin Maazel; I was called to New York the following week for an audition; and I got a principal role on his Young Artist Program in the US. What I loved about this experience was the absolute disregard for my qualifications: it was simply down to whether or not I sang well. Once I had this on my CV, it became a little easier to get audition slots in the UK.”
I love singing opera, but I just finished my undergraduate degree in systems engineering. It made for an interesting four years of study, and the job prospects are fabulous. However, I sometimes dream about running away to join the opera. So I was excited to discover that a sizable minority of opera singers did not have the traditional undergraduate music education. For various reasons, they devoted their time in university to other studies. Some of them went on to music graduate programs; others began careers without any formal, institutional training. To explore how this affected their outlook and careers, I asked three such singers—Sarah Gabriel, Mary Bevan, and Sarah van der Ploeg— about being in the opera world without following the usual educational path. Each studied a different discipline in college: Sarah Gabriel read English literature; Mary Bevan read Anglo-‐Saxon, Norse and Celtic Studies; and Sarah van der Ploeg majored in Public Policy and International Affairs. None of them avoided music entirely during their undergraduate years. They took lessons. Sarah Gabriel mentioned that, while developing her musical skills was important, “The most valuable thing for me at university was stage experience: acting in lots of plays, and writing, improvising and performing in comedy shows too.” When I asked these three sopranos what their largest knowledge gaps were relative to their peers who had majored in music as undergraduates, the answers were surprising. I had expected them to respond with the usual music degree pain points: theory, sight singing, ear training, etc. Instead, they mentioned having to catch-‐up in terms of familiarity with standard repertoire, opera plots, and famous singers. Mary wrote, “Obviously a knowledge of songs and arias was important, and that was something I had to prepare in my own time whilst studying for my degree. If I had studied music at undergraduate level then I suppose I would have had this knowledge as part of my
Despite the difficulties she encountered, Sarah Gabriel also saw benefits of having avoided formal music education. She noted that the competitiveness of music school can be destructive for singers: “I had seen some friends go to music college with beautiful voices and a delicious, raw artistry. Some of them came out of their training with pristine sounds, but often the raw artistry had had its edges rubbed off, and perhaps also for some of them, their confidence was eroded a bit too—and some even had a sense of panic about the work that they 'should' be doing. […] Because I wasn't in a particular 'year' of singers from music college, I didn't feel at all concerned about what everyone else was up to: I just looked for and took jobs that sounded exciting to me. […] I've loved this way of doing things, and it has resulted in some unusual projects, with extraordinary colleagues (not just in opera, recital and concert, but film, dance and theatre too). I might not have been up for some of these projects if I'd felt that I should follow a more conventional or prescribed path.” Independent of the challenges or benefits of not earning a music degree, does having a degree in another field provide value to a professional opera singer? Mary wrote, “I feel like I came to singing as a more mature person and I really was focused by that point.” Sarah Gabriel mentioned several more advantages: “It has given me a sense of perspective about the privilege of being on stage for a living. Meeting people in other walks of life before I started singing has also given me lots of characters and thumbnail scenes to draw upon when developing roles. Also, if I ever have a 'tough' day (very rare) I remember that I could be in an office instead, and I realize that I'm being an idiot. We are so lucky to be making music and telling stories for a living.” Sarah van der Ploeg echoed the other Sarah’s comments on perspective, and also saw the most practical benefits: “[My degree] informs some of my ideas for projects that I want to work on: I'm currently in talks with a couple of colleagues about founding a new opera company back in London with an international focus, and I'm also in the early stages of founding an NGO that would utilize arts training and mentorships
to empower women. I am a performer, and I love everything about being on the operatic and recital stages, but I am also motivated for those things to have repercussions beyond the hall. And, someday when my voice gives out (as it does to all singers at some point), I have the skills and the desire to be more involved with arts from the management / policy side again, and that can be a real possibility for me. And, having some experience with economics and arts policy is never a bad skill set for a freelancer whose self is her business!” Music school provides valuable training and makes getting auditions much easier. However, it is clear from my exchanges with Mary, Sarah, and Sarah that singers from other educational backgrounds can thrive as well. As an undergraduate, studying something other than music does not preclude you from pursuing an operatic career. In fact, it can offer advantages: less competitive stress, a sense of perspective about life as a performer, and the expertise and confidence to start new opera-‐related ventures. For most aspiring opera singers, majoring in music is probably the right choice. But deciding to pursue another passion in your undergraduate years doesn’t doom you to a life off the stage. Note: in the United States, “college” and “university” both refer to undergraduate higher education. Ilana is an engineer, actress, and mezzo-‐ soprano. She recently graduated with a Systems Engineering major from Olin College. Starting in October, she will pursue a graduate degree in European Literature at the University of Cambridge on a Gates-‐ Cambridge fellowship. She tweets about opera (and occasionally other topics) as @ilana_wb -6-
The Diva who Walks the Walk Jennifer Choi
As one of the greatest opera singers of her generation, Renée Fleming has captivated audiences worldwide with her stunning performances. However, for the last couple of years, she has also been investing her time and energy to advocate for arts education in Chicago. As the creative consultant for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Renée Fleming has been working in arts outreach through the Lyric Opera of Chicago. One of her projects includes mentoring students in the Merit School of Music. She conducts voice lessons through Skype when she cannot be there in person.
“I’ve only had one so far, and it went really well. My schedule takes me all over the world and it’s impossible for me to get there on a regular basis. What I discovered was that I can see and hear everything I need to be helpful. At the high school level, there are basic issues that I can identify and address through this format.” However, that wasn’t enough for her. Born into a family of public school educators, and she understands the value of a good education. Both of her parents were high school music teachers, and her brother is currently a public school teacher. In fact, she herself was certified to teach music in the state of New York. It was probably this background that brought her to do more than just pay lip service to the importance of arts education. She volunteered her time and star power to advocate for arts education in Chicago’s public schools. -‐ 7 -‐
In early 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration decided to push for a longer school day, and Fleming and other artists and leaders, including YoYo Ma and Damian Woetzel, became part of the movement that helped push for what is now known the CPS Arts Education Plan. “We met with the members of the mayor’s office and the chairman of the board of public schools and lobbied for part of the extended school day to be set aside for the arts.” In November of 2012, along with the Chicago Cultural Plan, the Arts Education Plan was officially announced. The Chicago Public Schools, whose leaders understand the benefits and vitality of a good arts education, has put into place policy that prioritizes developing an equitable, high quality arts education program for its schools. After the Arts Education Plan was released, arts education became a core subject for all students in grades K-‐12, and the Chicago Public Schools will work to implement the Arts Education Plan across the entire city. The plan guarantees a set amount of time each week for arts education, and every school will have an arts liaison. “Through this program, we want youngsters in the Chicago public school system to thrive. There are schools that are three blocks apart, and one will have a very strong arts program and the other will have none. Trying to make it equitable for students is important; trying to make sure all students have access to arts education is important. Students don’t even know if they have talent or interest in different things if they don’t have the exposure. That’s basically the goal.“ With the current state of the economy, most districts are cutting funding and turning away focus from arts education programs. Just last month, Congress approved a bill that would cut the President’s proposed budget for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in half, bringing the NEA’s budget to $75 million, a level not seen since 1974. “Our NEA gets such a small amount of money compared to arts programs in other countries in the developed world. Our entire NEA budget is less than the arts budget of Berlin, one city in Germany. To not understand the importance of culture is to short change us. Writers, musicians, poets, etc. have been the Greek chorus for history. They were the ones who saw, who commented, who pointed out trends in ways that left a cultural footprint. We have to support and be proud of the arts, and not get stuck in the politics.” In Chicago, however, the combination of public demand, strong advocacy, and good leadership has allowed for changes that are the opposite of the national trend. During the process of overhauling the education system, Chicago held over 30 town hall meetings. “What was discovered and voted on [during these meetings] was that the primary concern of the constituents was having a comprehensive arts plan for the city, which I thought was amazing. That set the stage for something happening that was much more comprehensive in terms of arts education.” According to the CPS Arts website, citizens and organizations throughout Chicago identified arts education as one of the top three most important cultural priorities for Chicago. Fleming says that another vital voice in the development of the CPS Arts Education plan was Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel. “He stood up at a press conference and talked about how ballet changed his life. It opened doors for him that otherwise would have been closed, and I really applaud him for being so outspoken about his experience in the arts and not downplaying it. “ It is not just public schools that are suffering from cuts in arts education. Private institutions tend to push arts education to the bottom of their priorities because the arts are not considered academically -‐ 8 -‐
rigorous. “That is a big missed opportunity,” Fleming says. “There have been some amazing musicians that have come out of Harvard, where my daughter currently is, and they have accomplished extraordinary feats in the world of diplomacy. Art is something we have to make sure stays valued, and stays in our educational programs […] Arts aren’t just extra or a luxury. They are necessary to the health and well being of the entire system.” The responsibility of arts education, however, does not lie solely in the hands of the schools. The future of the classical music industry is closely tied to the arts education trends in this country. When asked what opera companies should be doing to reach out to young fans, Fleming turned the question around. “I should probably be asking you that question. You’re all 10 steps ahead of us in terms of what’s available [technologically]. Opera companies should be appealing to the young fans and asking what they want.” While lamenting technology’s ability to distract and squeeze leisure time, Fleming also understands the important role that technology plays in exposure. “My children have made fantastic discoveries on YouTube. One daughter developed a huge passion for 1940s song stylists. She would never have had access to that if she didn’t have a computer. So young people are developing interests on their own, and it might not be what you might have expected because they have the ability to explore. For my latest recording, I found it very interesting that previous recordings of even the most unusual repertoire have already been uploaded onto YouTube. I used to pride myself on unearthing things that people didn’t know, and now it’s almost impossible. It’s all there. So young singers today have tremendous, instant access to everything. There is no substitute for exposure, and if that isn’t encouraged in school or in families or amongst friends, there will be even more people who don’t know what is available to them. Again, it’s why arts education is so important. “ Currently, Fleming and her team are finalizing plans for the American Voices Festival, which will take place at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. from November 22-‐24th. This is the first song festival that will focus on American music. There will be six different “Master Sessions,” in different genres of music, and each session will consist of a master class given by a leading artist in that field. The master classes will be followed by panel discussions moderated by Renée Fleming. Panel members and guest speakers include artists and industry leaders in that genre. Many of the events will be streamed live. Other special guests for the festival include Dr.Steven Zeitels, a leading laryngeal surgeon who operated on stars such as Adele and Steven Tyler, and speech pathologist Linda Carroll. They will discuss various aspects of voice therapy, including new treatments. Fleming says, “It would be great if Dr. Zeitels told me that when I’m nearing retirement, I could begin all over again, maybe starting with Gilda…I’m not sure what the market would be for a 70 year old Gilda, but funny and interesting to contemplate. Grandma Gilda. “ You can find more information about the festival here.
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My Life as a Cog Griffin Candey, MM in Music Performance at UIUC When I first stepped into the territory of writing about music education, I felt like a bit of a fraud: I am not and have never been a music educator. It requires a skill set, a devotion, and a level of patience that I do not possess. I am ever in awe of these individuals’ dedication to their craft and to the importance of music in the lives of young people. They are vital beyond description. Of course, my self-‐appointed fraud is a bit of a flaky charge. I can speak about music education, if only to a small degree, because I’ve lived it and continue to live it. I am a product of the system in question. Many articles about music education describe the inclusive community of music education. It encourages students to feel comfortable in their own skin, to open up in ways that they otherwise may suppress. From personal experience and from observation of others, that is absolutely the case. Without communally suffering through many years as a knobby-‐kneed trombone player or a voice-‐ cracking baby tenor, it is possible that coming out of my shell would have been a much longer process (or perhaps void entirely.) As I machete my way into the dense jungle of adulthood, I’ve found that many things that remained unquestioned as an adolescent have since reversed themselves without my noticing: my aversion to having children, my distaste for jazz, my lack of appreciation for oatmeal. More recently, I’ve discovered this 180˚ wonder: I distinctly remember a time when I hated the idea of being part of a whole. In my titanic struggle for teenage self-‐understanding – a struggle that surely only I, the loneliest speck in a lonely galaxy, ever had to endure – it was loathsome to think that I might ever be only a cog in a greater picture, functioning on one axis and bereft of any personal freedom. It was, like most teenage things, hilariously self-‐centered and impractical, and I am thankfully no longer of that opinion. In retrospect, it is primarily my time as a student of music that has caused this shift. The communities that form in musical settings, both educational and professional, encourage one to find and love one’s self, but perhaps more importantly, they encourage that new self to find its niche. Building a community requires much more than a group of people who like to sing in thirds. A successful, thriving community requires all of its participants to both (a) know where their strengths lie and (b) understand how to apply said strengths in order to provide the most benefit to the most people. Participation in music transitions all people, adolescent or adult, from an atmosphere of self-‐ service to one of greater collaborative goals. For every musician, the scope of music education extends far beyond our first band shells or choir risers. Our growth as artists is continual, borne forward by the musical challenges of our time and tested by the questions and needs of the next generation. Our lifelong education teaches us to become an integrated, useful part of some larger thing, to achieve something greater through cooperation with many passionate, like-‐minded artists. Always keep that collaborative spirit in mind. Think, act, and create while acknowledging your place in the web of musicians around you, and – while I rarely advise artists to “behave” – don’t become the self-‐serving wrench that hampers the progress of our bright, sometimes fragile machine. Griffin is both an opera singer and composer, with a MM in Music Performance from UIUC. -‐ 10 -‐
Reasons Why I'm Teaching Music and not Math Kaela Talley and make music with the same teacher and the same group of students, sharing the experience of creating and understanding music. They grow and learn from one another and form close relationships with both teachers and peers. Paul Eliot, a member of the music faculty at the Tacoma School of the Arts, talks about actively engaging his students in the community aspects of music making on the SOTA blog. He emphasizes that music is about interpersonal relationships and interaction, and says that “asking students to work in teams…develops both empathy and leadership”.1 While the SOTA has a lot more going for it than many teachers find is their reality, Eliot’s sentiment is spot on. He talks about a songwriting class in which the students help each other as needed, sharing their experience to make each project the best it can be. These aspects of a music classroom foster a sense of responsibility and autonomy that no set of classroom rules could hope to dictate. When a classroom functions like a community, with the students helping each other to learn and grow, they create day to day experiences that can’t be matched in other classes. Part of what makes the community of a music classroom so valuable is the idea that music is in every part of our lives and experiences – it brings us together. The notion of music as a refuge is not without merit. I’m not saying that my experience has shown me that music classes are comprised entirely of misfits, or that a choral ensemble is some sort of God-‐awful episode of Glee where the jocks and the nerds are suddenly friends because they’re singing, but music classes are (or should be) a place where anyone can participate. One of the joys of music is its flexibility, and I’ve come to find that students
Ask a foreign language teacher why learning another language is important, why their job matters, and you may be met with indignation. Gosh, everybody knows that learning another language is important! How will you get into college if you haven't taken two years of Spanish/C++/Klingon/Pig Latin?! Ask a music teacher why music is important, and you may end up with a poorly concealed sigh, a polite smile, and a thought bubble of "here we go again.” A hyperbolic scenario, perhaps, but it is not untrue. I've often wondered what it might be like if I had chosen to remain in German Education rather than switching to Choral Music. Do other education majors have to defend their right to exist as often as I do? In a world where subjects like math and foreign language are unequivocally accepted in their importance to life, the validity of curricular music classes is constantly in question. In my time studying music education, I've learned nothing so thoroughly as how to diplomatically defend my profession. Music education is always forced to define itself in terms of its contribution to I.Q, spatial-‐ awareness, or mathematical ability; the words “Mozart” and “Effect” uttered too closely together are enough to make me hiss like a vampire faced with a crucifix. I could summon half a dozen different answers to the question “what are the benefits of music education?” but several of those potential answers are neither convincing nor are they the reason I want to teach music. For those of us who’ve been “doing music” for a while, my own personal first and best reason for the maintenance of curricular music education shouldn’t be too surprising: community. Curricular music ensembles are unique among the school subjects in their progression: students return each year to learn -‐ 11 -‐
will respond to the concerted effort of teachers to nurture an inclusive community. The September 2012 issue of the Music Educator’s Journal featured a series of fantastic articles discussing how music teachers can make their classes more accessible for students with disabilities. Joseph Abramo’s article elaborates on legal aspects of inclusivity, but also the myriad ways that music classrooms can make a greater effort to include these students in the community. In this case, as with every, the onus is on the teacher to assure, to the best of their ability, that anyone who wants to “do music” can. The flexibility of music and music teachers makes it a classroom particularly suited to inclusivity. Abramo ends the article with a statement that makes me want to jump up on a chair and debase myself with exclamations of joy: “Regardless of their abilities and disabilities, students deserve thoughtful music educators willing to make these changes in the name of what is fair, right, and just”.2 Music classrooms aren’t just a place where the football player with the nice voice can commiserate with the nerdy guy who also doesn’t like Dostoevsky. More than that, it is a community where anyone with an open heart and mind, and a willingness to work hard, is welcome.
My own experiences shape my understanding of a music community, and I’m aware that it isn’t all sunshine and roses. But regardless of how well some individuals fare in being a part of the community, the opportunity and the opening are there for the taking, if one is willing to try. One of many conclusions that came out of a 2003 study featured in the Journal For Research in Music Education was that “the social climate of these ensembles is important to each member and provides many with an outlet that they might not have had to meet others from the larger school setting, or to form relationships away from the home environment that assist them in negotiating the often turbulent high school years”.3 Being in music is an unforgettable shared experience. It carries with it benefits that cannot be measured on the same scale as an improved intelligence quotient. I will never underestimate the importance of music in the lives of the students who participate in it. It’s impossible to forget the people I have seen grow and change after finding a place among us music-‐doers. It’s not because they placed first at a competition, or because they suddenly improved their hand-‐eye coordination, but because in music they found something infinitely more valuable: a home.
Kaela is a graduating senior studying Music Education and German at the University of Illinois. She is the outgoing president of the UIUC chapter of the ACDA, proud contralto, and voice student of Ricardo Herrera. A shameless nerd, Kaela dedicates her spare time to learning Vulcan and playing ukulele. Footnotes: 1 Eliot, Paul. “Community in the Music Classroom”, 10 December 2012. http://elementsofeducation.org/community-‐ in-‐the-‐music-‐classroom/ 2 Abramo, Joseph. Disability in the Classroom: Current Trends and Impacts on Music Education. Music Educators Journal September 2012 99: 39-‐45 3 Adderley, C; Berz, William; Kennedy, Mary; “A Home away from Home”: The World of the High School Music Classroom Journal of Research in Music Education Fall 2003 51: 190-‐205
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The True Face of Music in Brazil
As a person who fell in love with opera in my twenties, I look back and can see how things could have been different if I had had more appreciation for the art form when I was in school. But looking back, I see that the possibility of me getting hooked on what today is my sole purpose of living was very small because I live in Brazil. Brazil is, some might say, a country on the rise. It has the 6th largest economy in the world, and we are hosting the World Cup next year and the Olympic Games in a couple more. However, Brazil could easily be described as an underfed child who happens to be wearing pretty clothes and is told to behave when there are visitors. If you look from afar, it all seems all right, but if you get to know Brazil, you will be quite surprised. It’s a country led by people who are ready to spend billions of dollars building football stadiums but will not raise a finger when it comes to our educational system. It is this type of government that manages the public schools and sometimes produces "graduate students" who do not know how to write. The teachers in these schools are quite competent, but they're told to approve every student, regardless of achievement, and if the teachers do not comply, the students bully them out of their jobs. Suffice it to say that there is very little room for Arts Education in these schools. Normally, the pupils who attend public schools in Brazil come from low socio-‐ economic families who sometimes cannot afford rent. They do not have the means to invest in their children’s education. Often times, non-‐governmental institutions create a bridge between pupils and the arts. In some cases, music teachers will personally go to the public schools, gather up the students who are interested in learning more about music, and end up doing remarkable projects with these kids. A wonderful example is
Cartola’s Violin Orchestra (Orquestra de Violinos Cartola), which is based in one of Rio de Janeiro’s biggest favelas(slums), the Mangueira favela. Nowadays, that program has over 80 kids enrolled, and it has an extremely big waiting list. One of the orchestras many objectives is to bring in audiences and increase the general public’s exposure to classical music. Another school that teaches classical music in the slums is the Rocinha School of Music (Escola de Música da Rocinha), which was founded back in 1994 by the German musician Hans Ulrich Koch. Rocinha is one of the most dangerous places in Rio de Janeiro, but with projects like these, kids are taken out of the streets and find a purpose. There, kids take musical theory lessons, various kinds of instrument lessons, and choir singing, and it's all for free. In addition to all this, the pupils can borrow the instruments they are learning and take them home to practice. Unfortunately, the Brazilian government does not back these schools. Rocinha’s School of Music, for instance, is financed by European donors. In private schools, the scene changes a bit. More than half of the children in Brazil attend different kinds of private schools. We have a wide range of private schools, from high end expensive to middle class affordable private schools. Since there are so many different kinds of schools in Brazil, it is difficult for colleges to rely only on school transcripts to evaluate a student’s academic abilities. Each college holds an entrance exam every year for all who are interested in attending the school. These tests are the biggest factor for acceptance; so quite literally, schools teach entrance exam material instead of actually educating their students, especially in high school. Because the school curriculum is focused on the entrance exams, there is not much room for arts education in private schools as well. In - 13 -
many cases, children will have some sort of music class between the ages of 7 to 10. The quality of these lessons varies from school to school. Some have excellent programs, but most others are disappointing. Some schools have music lessons, choir lessons and flute lessons as extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, the quality of these lessons again varies from school to school. In order to learn about music or how to play an instrument, parents normally enroll their children in conservatories, music schools, and private lessons, which are often very expensive. The Conservatories sometimes have high-‐ end teachers who can provide excellent instruction. Very young children get basic music classes for a few years, and then they are directed to an instrument of their liking. Normally, these schools teach only classical music, but there are some schools that are opening their doors to more modern repertoire. The modern repertoire comes as an option the pupil can have once he or she has mastered the basic rudiments of playing the instrument. A full course in a conservatory can last up to 10 years and can sometimes even allow the student to skip needing a minor degree in music in order to do a Graduate course in college. One of the best music schools in Brazil is the Escola Municipal de Música in São Paulo.
Pupils are often given the opportunity to take private lessons with musicians who members of the major orchestras in São Paulo. For instance, one of their faculty members on the classical singing staff is one of the most in-‐demand sopranos in Brazil. Apart from the private instrument lessons, the students also get Harmony lessons, Counterpoint lessons, Ear Training lessons, and History Lessons, all for free. The courses can last from 2 to 12 years, depending on the instrument. The school’s capacity is 800 students, and they accept 200 new students every year. Although projects like these are wonderful, these numbers are not enough to meet the enormous need of the 11 million citizens in São Paulo alone. Moreover, most people are not exposed to classical music nearly enough and sometimes, they have no exposure at all. Because of this, ignorance and prejudice grow along with an absolute lack of interest. Fortunately, there are many who are passionate about classical music here in Brazil, and they do their best to do outreach and introduce opera to as many people as they can. Brazilians are stubborn and persistent when they find their purpose, and as we say around here, “Brazilians never give up”. Being both a Brazilian and an opera singer, I must confess I take pride when I look around and see no dry eyes by the end of La Traviata.
Isabela is a Brazilian soprano living in São Paulo. She will be finishing her minor degree in Music by the end of this year. Her life's passions are opera, books, friends and food. She blogs about opera for fun at http://unexpected-‐ song.blogspot.com.br/ and hopes to become an opera singer in the future.
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Learning Music in France Lucie Knecht-‐Deyber
During all my schooling in France, we only had "music lessons" when we were between 11 and 15 years old and only for an hour a week. That's not much. And what we did in those lessons was not much either. We listened to all kinds of music, we sang, and we played a sort of plastic flute (like a recorder). Our singing was more like "listen to the original and then try to imitate it." So, at the end of those four years, nobody was able to sing a single note right. Playing the flute was even worse : first, the instrument itself was quite awful, and the sound was really bad. We had to play very simple tunes, but most of us couldn't read the notes (exept those who played an instrument outside of school), so it was kind of a mess. The 'listening to all kinds of music' was maybe more interesting, since it made us discover things we wouldn't have listened to by ourselves, but at the same time, the only thing we did in class was write one or two paragraphs about the context and try to guess which instruments were playing. How were we supposed to know the different instruments if the only one we'd ever heard was a plastic flute? To me, the music education in France was really insufficient and inadequate. The result after those four years was that most of the pupils still couldn't read even a single note and most of them left with not much interest in music. That was six years ago, but my brother just recently went through it and he told me that it hasn't changed much. The only difference is that now they don't use the plastic flute anymore and now they don't use any instrument at all, which is not better. In my case, my parents listened to a lot of different things and I was curious enough to pay attention to every kind of music I heard. But I really regret that I didn't learn anything about music in school. The very few things I know about music now is what I've learned during the year I studied piano (when I was eight) and by reading, listening, and discussing music with other people. All I know I've learned by myself, outside of school, and that is a shame.
Lucie is a twenty year-‐old French history student. She is not a musician, but she is a big opera fan. You can find her at lulu-‐ptit-‐lu.tumblr.com.
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“Review: Do Great Voices Sing John Denver” Kevin Ng
Operatic crossover projects can be a gamble, ranging from Eileen Farrell’s iconic jazz recordings to Renata Scotto’s much maligned ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’. The difficulty, it seems, lies not in being able to sing all of the notes, but being able to adapt to the style of music required. The fifteen singers represented on the recording all do a decent job, and some actually sounding quite spectacular in this repertoire. Unfortunately, all are hampered by an overly schmaltzy orchestra track, complete with swooning strings and harp glissandi, that seems foreign to John Denver’s simple, acoustic aesthetic. Despite this, it’s an enjoyable, if not revelatory recording and is worth a listen.
Among the 15 songs recorded, it’s astounding that none are outright failures. The least successful is ‘The Eagle and the Hawk’, though that’s more the fault of the sound engineers than the singers. The idea of Rod Gilfry, Daniel Montenegro, and Dolora Zajick singing a trio is an odd one to begin with, and it’s not helped by the fact that the sound keeps getting more and more present as the song progresses. Otherwise, the rest of the singers sound more or less comfortable in their songs, avoiding the overblown emotion often used by opera singers who have no idea what to do with the music.
A few singers stand out, showing a close connection to the text and music while retaining their own unique musicality. Heldentenor Stuart Skelton sounds spectacular in ‘Fly Away’, lightening his tone effectively, and Daniel Montenegro’s sensitive and restrained ‘Goodbye Again’ was another highlight. Plácido Domingo in ‘Perhaps Love’ is pretty much exactly what you would expect from him, but Thomas Hampson surprises with a witty and understated ‘Sweet Surrender’. The standout has to be Patricia Racette’s ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’, performed with the same absolute commitment and passion as she does her celebrated Puccini heroines. Proof indeed that opera singers can bring something special to this repertoire! Kevin is a second year university student who dreams of a career in the opera world, which is why he is currently studying cell biology and doing chemistry labs. You can find him at nonpiudifiori.wordpress.com.
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Come Scoglio A drama giocoso in three acts* K. A. Feltkamp
About the Author Kim Feltkamp is a mezzo-‐soprano currently pursuing her MM at Bard College in Dawn Upshaw’s Vocal Arts Program. She has been part of the online opera community as OperaRox, providing interactive opera liveshows and contests to educate and unite the opera community. She is also a published writer. You can find her at OperaRox, Kimozart, and her professional website.
Note from the Author I wrote this story to depict, as closely as possible, the people and events in Mozart’s life when he was at the height of his compositional success. The people in this novella all really lived and had personalities close to the characters portrayed here. This is a work of fiction, but the goal was to remain as close to history as possible. I took the time to read countless letters, journal entries, autobiographies, and the like, not only to capture the true essence of the people in the story, but also to get all the facts and dates straight. Many of the things said or alluded to by the characters are directly from these sources. The one exception to this is the narrator, Louise Villeneuve. History tells us what and where she sang, but not who she was. Therefore, I have taken some license in regard to the narrator and her connection to the composer, especially in ways which strengthen the plot. In short, everything relating to Ms. Villeneuve is completely from my imagination. I have made educated guesses from what others said about her, which is very little, and from the music that Mozart wrote for her, which tells us a bit more. Therefore, this story is a conglomerate of sorts, as all fiction tends to be, but there is a great deal of truth in it. I hope you enjoy the ride and learn a little of who Mozart truly was and what he experienced as a composer and a man. *continued series. Previous chapters can be found in earlier issues of Opera21.
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Act III January 26, 1790 The noise outside my dressing room door was louder than I’d ever heard it. I was a bit apprehensive as I opened the door. People came from all directions, pressing in and chattering and extending their gloved hands. For a few moments, I couldn’t tell what was going on. I tried to stabilize myself, but I found it extremely difficult. I plastered a smile on my face and kept nodding, accepting hands and congratulations. It took me a moment to realize that someone was pulling incessantly on my sleeve. I turned to see a servant. His uniform betrayed his position: he worked for the Emperor. He shoved a small card into my hand and said, “Madame, the Emperor sends his deepest regrets for not coming in person. He was feeling a bit ill and had to go home, but he wanted to give you this message. Please give me your response.” I looked down at the handwritten card and couldn’t believe what I was reading. I read it again and knew that I wasn’t mistaken. It read, “Please join me for dinner on 12 Feb. Details to follow.” “I accept,” I told the servant, my voice breathless. “Thank you.” He bowed and then disappeared into the crowd. The sea of people pressed in closer after his departure. I did my best to enjoy the onslaught of strangers. After I’d drowned in compliments and disentangled myself from the socialites, I retreated to my dressing room and checked my makeup and hair. Before I could do much else, there was a knock on my door. I hoped I would open the door to a familiar face. My hopes were fulfilled. Mozart stood there, his face flushed with excitement. The moment the door was no longer between us, he took me in a fierce embrace, saying rapturously, “My dear, my Liebchen, you were absolutely stunning tonight! I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Thank you, thank you!” I was overwhelmed. I laughed and he let me go. “Thank you,” I said. “I’ve never had someone write an entire role for me.” “Consider it two roles,” he said, “for you are surely Fiordiligi. To me, you will always be Fiordiligi.” “Then, thank you twice over.” He shook his head. “You’re the inspiration. My muse. I’m eternally grateful.” He kissed my hand. “Come,” he said. “My carriage is waiting outside and everyone else is probably already on their way. This is a night to celebrate!” He took my hand and started to pull me from my dressing room. “One moment,” I said, going back for my things. He stood impatiently, energy almost visibly throbbing from him. I felt caught up in it—in the rush of his movements, in the intense life radiating from every inch of his body, in his obvious affection for me… I came out of my dressing room and he immediately put my hand on his arm, leading me away. We entered the warm darkness of his carriage. As he helped me in, I saw Constanze already seated in the carriage. The old feelings of friendship felt subdued. A smile didn’t come automatically. Instead, I had to summon it. I took a seat next to her and Mozart climbed in after me, sitting across from us.
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“I assume you two know each other,” Mozart said with a smile. “Wonderful singing tonight,” Constanze said. “Thank you,” I said. “What did you think of the show?” “It was fun,” she said. I didn’t believe her. Something in her voice made me feel uncontrollably cold. I fought back a shiver. “I’m glad to see you were able to come,” I said. “I know Herr Mozart was afraid you wouldn’t be well enough.” “I’m glad to be well again,” she said. “The doctor said that I’ve almost fully recovered. Now life can go back to normal.” She looked intently at Mozart with her large, brown eyes. Mozart looked back with his equally large blue eyes although his gaze was pleading more than accusatory. Constanze’s anger was suffocating. The carriage felt too small, too hot. I willed the carriage to drive faster. How different this trip was from last night’s! How quickly things could change! The night continued in much the same way. I could barely enjoy myself at the party because Mozart was working so hard to keep everyone happy. Constanze was upset and trying to hide it with silence. The tension between them and within each of them was too much to deal with. I watched them from across Signor da Ponte’s parlor and it felt like something was rotting inside of me. My emotions had become tied up in them. How had I let this happen? How had I become so dependent? Vincenzo sidled up beside me and I didn’t notice until he said, “What is so interesting?” I nearly spilled my wine all over him from surprise. “Vin, don’t do that.” “I’ve never seen you so intent. What are you looking at?” I considered not telling him. But I couldn’t hold it in. I said, “The Mozarts. There’s something awful between them tonight.” Vincenzo nodded. “They can get into the most terrible fights. Constanze can hold her anger for days. Mozart always tries desperately to smooth things over immediately, but she’s too stubborn. She doesn’t let things go.” “I wonder what they could be fighting about,” I said. I didn’t dare voice my suspicions as to the answer to that. I hoped my thoughts were wrong. “It could be anything,” Vincenzo said. “Don’t bother yourself over it. It’ll be over soon enough.” “I hope so,” I said. “I know so,” he said. “They love each other too much.” He smiled at me, saying, “Marriage is a strange thing. You’ll understand it one day.” I hoped so. Although, the way things were going… I looked across the room at Mozart and music rushed through my head. All that magical music that so easily pulled at my heart, so quickly changed who I thought I was. Feelings pounded through me and I thought, Damn it all. One look should dissuade me. He has Constanze on his arm. He’s a married man. Constanze’s my friend. There’s no way around that. Normally the thought of loving a married man would never cross my mind. What’s wrong with me? What has happened to me in the past few months? When did things start to break down? Mozart caught me looking and smiled at me from across the room. “Louise?”
-‐ 19 -‐
The voice belonged to Vincenzo. “Yes?” I asked. “You’re acting so strange tonight. We just had a fantastic premiere. You should be elated.” He was right. Nothing was the way it should have been. My unwarranted emotions were ruining everything. But I couldn’t tell Vincenzo that. Here I stopped telling him the truth. I smiled at him, saying, “I’m okay. I guess it’s all so overwhelming. I’m not sure how to feel.” “Understandable,” he said. “Just try to enjoy yourself. This may never happen again.” “You’re right,” I said. “I think I’ll go congratulate Pietro.” “Yeah,” Vincenzo said, “go congratulate him on his self-‐control.” “Vincenzo, you’re so bad.” He shrugged, then said, “Teresa’s giving me the signal. I need to go talk to her. I’ll come get you when she wants to leave.” He kissed me on the cheek and went across the room to his wife. I stood there, unsure what to do with myself. Mozart must have noticed me standing there looking lost because he whispered something to Constanze and they started towards me. I stood there, helpless, as they came closer. My heart started its restless beating and I had to force myself to breathe normally. I felt like I was 15 again and I hated it. “Mademoiselle Villeneuve,” he said, kissing my hand. “Are you enjoying yourself?” I nodded and smiled. He smiled back and I wondered if he knew. Could he tell? Was I being obvious? “Constanze is rather tired,” he said, “so we’re heading home. Do you have a way home?” “Yes,” I answered. “Vincenzo and Teresa are set on taking me. Thank you for asking.” “That Vincenzo is always stealing you from me,” he said playfully. “So, what are you going to do with your day off tomorrow?” “Sleep,” I said. “I need it.” “Don’t we all,” he said. “Well, then, we’ll say good night.” “Good night,” I said to them both. “Good night,” Constanze said, leaning in to kiss me on the cheek. The touch’s sterility upset me. I reached out and squeezed her hand, trying to bring some warmth back into the situation. She went away without a reaction. “Good night, dear,” Mozart said, kissing my hand again. He let Constanze walk away and as he passed by me, he pressed his cheek to mine and simultaneously pushed something into my free hand. His clean-‐shaven face was cool against mine. I hoped that he didn’t feel how flushed my face was. It must have seemed so warm against his cold skin. He left without another glance backward at me. I looked down at what he’d given to me and saw that it was a piece of folded paper. Not wanting to open it here, I quickly hid it in my purse. I wanted so badly to know what was written on it! A thrill of anticipation raced from my feet upward. Vincenzo and Teresa will probably want to leave soon, I thought. Once I’m home, it’ll be safe to open it. I smiled at the prospect and floated through the rest of the party, smiling at every little incident.
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January 27, 1790 I sat on my bed, pulling my knees to my chest. The light of mid-‐morning flooded the room but it did not affect me. I buried my face in my legs, willing the outside world to disappear. Why did everything have to be so convoluted? I picked up my head and stared at the two objects beside me on the bed. The first: Mozart’s letter from last night. It was crumpled from my hasty move of smashing it into my purse. I could see bits of his handwriting between the uneven folds. The second: my mother’s wedding ring. It had come in the mail for me today. Apparently my family members had gone through all of my mother’s things and found it in her will that I have her wedding ring. They’d sent it to me with a lovely note, but I’d left that on my clavier. The small golden circle glared accusingly at me. I picked up Mozart’s letter and decided to face it again. I read it carefully, meditating on each word: Dearest Louise, My dear, my Liebchen, I can no longer hold back what must be said. I cannot bear to keep this from you any longer. I must speak with you. Will you meet me? Constanze is out visiting tomorrow. Will you come to my place during the day? I intend to discuss things while the sun is still out, for the cover of dark would suggest the wrong intentions. I shall be anxiously awaiting your coming, my Fiordiligi. Always yours with much love, Mozart I let the letter fall to the bed, covering my mother’s ring. I immediately felt guilty and moved the letter so I could pick up the ring. I turned the small gold object over between my fingers. It was pure and smooth to the touch. I couldn’t help but remember it on my mother’s finger. The image brought a smile and tears. I caressed the ring and thought, Oh, Mother, why can’t you be here now? You left me when I needed you most. You could always make things right. Why can’t you do the same thing now? I thought of all the times we’d sat at the kitchen table discussing life, love, God…anything and everything. How many of those profound conversations had we had? Mother was so wise. She always knew what to say, how to deal with things. All those promises I’d made her! I told her I’d live my life right. I’d treat people right. I’d wait for the right man. I’d do things with purity and a solid conscience. Did those things matter now? Had my promises died with her? My tears of sorrow turned to tears of anger. It was all too much. I shouldn’t have to deal with this. It was unfair to ask it of me. I’d been abandoned. It was time to act for myself. I looked down at Mozart’s letter, my anger pulling me toward a decision. I dropped the ring on the bed and picked up the letter. I would go. Vincenzo’s words of warning resounded in my memory. Be careful. He isn’t in my situation, I thought. He doesn’t know how I feel. He doesn’t know what I need. Besides, I’m just going to talk. There’s nothing wrong with talking. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m just going to hear Mozart out. I’ve lost so much. Why can’t I have this one thing that I’ve found? I stood to my feet and started to get ready. I picked my prettiest dress and shoes. I’d hire a carriage. Plans started forming as I dressed.
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Yes, yes, I thought. That is how it will be. I am my own woman. I will do what I please. I’m tired of doing things the “right way.” I’m going to do them my way now. I’m going to take what life never deigned to give me. I finished dressing and headed for the door. The ringing of the Stephansdom bells echoed through my room. I stopped, not even breathing as I listened to each toll. Finally the resounding of the twelfth bell dissipated and I was released. Yet something kept me from leaving. I felt as though I was forgetting something—something immensely important. I looked around the room, trying to think of what it might be. My gaze caught on my mother’s ring sitting innocently on the bed. It called to me, paralyzed me. It wouldn’t let me leave without it. I fought the terrible feeling in my chest for a moment then gave in, walking slowly to the bed. I picked up my mother’s wedding ring and quickly slipped it onto my right hand’s ring finger. The fit was disturbingly perfect. I didn’t look at it anymore, but I felt its weight the entire way to Mozart’s place. I heard clavier music through the door. Had it been warmer outside, I would have delayed stating my presence just so I could listen to it. But it was too cold to wait. I raised my hand and knocked on the door. The music stopped at once. Heavy feet stamped down the stairs and the door opened with a powerful force. Mozart stood in the doorway, staring at me in disbelief. He had his blue suit on. “You came,” he said. There was something so hopeful and childish in his expression and tone. I wanted to laugh, but I chose to smile instead. “I did,” I said. He stood there a moment, simply looking at me. It was as though he expected me to disappear like some teasing shade. “It’s cold,” I said. “Oh, of course,” he muttered. He stepped aside and said, “Come in.” He was all energy as he closed the door and followed me up the stairs. “I’m sorry the maid wasn’t here to let you in,” he chattered. “She accompanied Constanze and Karl. It’s just the two of us here.” He spoke nonchalantly but the words held an unmistakable depth of meaning. I didn’t say anything in return. We reached his apartment. He took my things and told me I could go into the parlor and make myself at home. How ironic. If only he knew how much this room meant to me. I was simply standing in the middle of the room, soaking in the atmosphere, when he came in. He smiled at me as though he found my behavior overwhelmingly adorable and gestured for me to sit on the loveseat. I sat obediently, watching him incessantly. He looked straight at me with his blue eyes and everything that I loved about him was there in that moment. If only he would go over to the clavier. Then I would truly be undone. He did not go to the clavier. Instead, he spoke. “Since it was I who invited you here, I shall begin the talking,” he said. “There’s no other way to say this except straight out. I love you, Louise.” The words weren’t totally unexpected, but they still shocked me. “I couldn’t keep it from you anymore,” he said. “I had to tell you.” I wanted to say something but the words stuck in my throat. He took my hand and kept talking. “I’ve had little passionettes, as da Ponte likes to call them, but this is different. I’ve never taken
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things this far. You are so much to me. You’ve brought such music from me. You’re an inspiration— my muse. You’re like no one I’ve ever known. Music just flows right through you into me. I feel connected to you in a way that I can’t explain. This is something special – I cannot deny that. Do you feel it, too?” I couldn’t lie to him. “I do,” I answered. “You do!” he said, rapture on his face. I took hold of his other hand, suddenly wanting to be close to him. “But what are we to do?” I asked. “I was hoping you would know.” He just looked at me, a dangerous question in his eyes. I looked back at him and the silence pressed on my chest like a corset tied too tightly. Suddenly Mozart’s gentle yet strong fingers were on my exposed neck, moving upward. My heart raced. I reciprocated by touching my fingertips to his cheek. The space between us decreased. Right before our lips met, I caught sight of the ring on my finger. All the promises flooded back. I turned my face at the last moment and he kissed my cheek instead. He moved back and took his hand away, obviously confused. “What’s the matter, dear one?” he asked. I feel like a traitor. “Don’t you love me?” he asked. “Oh, I do,” I said. “Terribly so. More than anyone else I’ve ever known.” “Then what are you afraid of?” “I’m not afraid,” I said. “Then what’s the matter? Why won’t you let me kiss you?” Contrasting emotions raged inside of me. My heart was a bloody battlefield and I was feeling every death. I wanted so much to give in to him. I wanted to scream “I want to kiss you!” but the words wouldn’t come out. My body was no longer obeying my commands. I couldn’t move toward him even if I wanted to. I didn’t have to, because he came to me. He moved closer, taking both of my hands. “Dear one,” he said softly. “Please don’t reject me.” His words were beginning to thaw the frost that had settled over me. I leaned against him and he put his arm around me. I let my head nestle against his chest. His scent – candles, ink, and something else indistinguishable – filled me. I felt myself relaxing against him. How nice it felt to be held like this! “I could never reject you,” I said into the lace of his shirt. He heaved a sigh of relief. His breath lifted and lowered my head. I wanted to stay there, listening to him breathe, forever. I wanted him to be mine, to belong to me. Was that asking so much? “Why can’t we be together?” The words came out of my mouth despite my better judgment. “Why can’t we?” he asked. I sat up. “It’s all painfully obvious,” I said. “You’re married.” The word hung in the air like a deadly poison. Suddenly everything was sharp and clear. “I shouldn’t even be here,” I said, standing. “I don’t know what I’m doing.” “’Non so piu cosa son, cosa faccio,’” he quoted. I no longer know who I am, what I’m doing. “That’s what Cherubino says,” he said with a smile. “Must you always be so noble, my Fiordiligi?” His words were said lightly, but they cut me deeply. He called me ‘my Fiordiligi.’ I wanted to be his! “I’m not so noble,” I said. “It’s just…” You’re not what I need.
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It was all so unfair. He reached from his seat on the couch and took my hand, trying to bring me to his side once again. “Liebchen,” he cooed. “Come here. Calm yourself.” As he caressed my hand, he noticed the ring on my finger. “What is this?” he asked. “It was my mother’s,” I said. “It came for me this morning.” He examined it, his expression perturbed. It seemed like he wanted to ask a question but kept himself from doing so. Instead he said, “It is so unassuming, just like you.” I could only nod and let him pull me down to the couch. My stomach felt like it was eating itself. I thought: why does love feel so horrible? Mozart brushed the back of his fingers on my cheek. “You are so beautiful,” he said. I blushed. “Why can’t I have you?” he asked. He leaned in to kiss me. Something in me knew that one kiss would undo me. Once I stepped in, there would be no more resistance. Fiordiligi’s fatal words crossed my mind: Fa di me quel che ti par. Do with me what you want. The words scared me. When he got close, I asked the question that had been unspoken all along: “What about Constanze?” He moved back abruptly. “We both know it’s wrong,” I said. “I wish it wasn’t like this, but it is. I can’t reconcile it.” “Louise,” he said, his voice strained, “you’ve seduced me and now you push me away. Why would you do this?” “I seduced you?” “With every look,” he said, “with every note that you sang. I couldn’t help but fall in love with you.” His face was pale, as though he was in pain. “I didn’t mean for any of this,” I said, my voice starting to break. “Don’t be upset,” he said. “I didn’t mean to blame you.” His words came too late. I could feel the tears starting already. They stung as they fought to be released. A tear fell down my face and Mozart saw it immediately. I hated to show such emotion in front of anyone, least of all the man I was trying to resist, but self-‐reproof made me even more upset. “Oh, my dear,” he said. “This is not what I wanted. Here, I’ll make you feel better.” He stood and moved over to his clavier. He opened the lid and started to play a gay little tune. It was all useless. The music swept over me and made me cry all the more. I hid it with my hands until Mozart gave up at the clavier and came over, pulling me to him. I cried on his shoulder, unaware of all else. After a few minutes, I moved away and he offered me his handkerchief. I took it and as I looked at him, I saw that he had tears in his eyes as well. I felt extremely vulnerable. Everything in me was screaming out for the things I wanted: love, comfort, to belong to someone… And here was the man I’d come to love, sitting so close beside me with tears in his eyes. Willing, waiting… The temptation was so strong. I could feel my strength wearing thin. I did the only thing I could think of. “God, help me,” I whispered. That hadn’t worked for Fiordiligi, but my life wasn’t a libretto written by Lorenzo da Ponte. I felt a new resolve in me. I suddenly wanted space, time... I looked up at Mozart and for one moment, I felt that I had a bit of control. I held his gaze and smiled lightly, asking, “Can I ask you for something?” “Anything,” he said quickly. I saw hope return to him.
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“I want some time. Not too much – just a few days. I want time to think this through.” He said with reserve, “If that is what you wish.” “Sunday,” I said. “No longer, I promise.” He smiled. I took his hand, feeling a tingling again. I chose my words carefully, thinking through my German before speaking. It was my third language after all. “I want to make sure you understand,” I said. “I don’t want you to lose the meaning because of my German.” “Then we’ll use your language,” he said in perfect French. I was astonished. “Thank you,” I said. Then, going back to the subject at hand, I continued, “I’m not backing out. I just need time to think. That’s how I work. If I make a decision, it’s with everything in me.” He smiled and touched my cheek affectionately. “That’s why I love you, my Fiordiligi,” he said. He watched me, adoration in his eyes. “I should have expected you to say this,” he said softly, tracing my jaw with his fingers. “I do understand you as well as I thought. You see—people don’t understand me, but I understand them. I can see how people think, how they work. I’m like a tinker: I can open a clock and understand what makes it tick. Only instead of clocks, I open people.” He leaned closer to me, whispering, “So that’s my secret: I know how you tick, Louise. And that’s why I love you.” I thought I would melt away. Hearing those words from anyone, and especially in my own language, was almost too much to handle. I smiled at him without thinking about it and he smiled back. “I need to go,” I said quietly. “Then you may,” he said, standing and extending his hand to help me up. I took it and he drew me close, pressing his body against mine and kissing my cheek. “I’ll get your things,” he said and disappeared down the hallway.
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Opera Companies: Outreach Programs in America On the hit CBS show, The Big Bang Theory, several of the main characters brainstorm ideas to get more women interested in the hard sciences. Sheldon, the self-‐declared brains of the group, makes a very important statement. He says, “All your ideas address the issue at a university level. By then, it’s too late. You need to design an outreach program that targets girls at the middle school level and sets them on an academic track towards the hard sciences.” Similar in concept, the future of the opera industry is very heavily tied to the state of arts education, especially in America. Several opera companies seem to have caught onto the necessity of investing in children, for building young fans is an excellent way to make the art form accessible and invest in future opera lovers. We have highlighted various opera outreach programs in several major opera companies in America. Please write to us and let us know what you think. Do you think these programs are effective?
The Dallas Opera One of the leading opera companies in the country, the Dallas Opera has hosted and continues to host some of the best stars and productions of the opera world. In addition to its excellent programming, the Dallas Opera has one of the best music education outreach programs in the country. Dallas Opera has two types of outreach programs. The first is a two-‐day residency program called “Dallas Opera in a Suitcase.” It is an after school program for students grades K-‐6. Members of the Dallas Opera will go out to different schools. On the first day of the program, the opera staff introduces opera to the students. They explain to the students what opera is, and then they introduce different aspects of performing an opera (lighting, costume, etc.). On the second day, the students will watch a performance of and opera called Jack & the Beanstalk. In addition to the after school programs, the Dallas Opera also has an in-‐school program targeted towards students in grades 3-‐8. The opera company will take a 45-‐minute opera into the school and do a full performance with a piano. The Dallas Opera’s school programs are aligned with the state standards for curriculum and lessons. In fact, schoolteachers are asked to help write the curriculum for the Dallas Opera programs. Therefore, teachers need not worry about spending time on material that does not meet state standards. The Dallas Opera also provides teacher-‐training sessions about how to incorporate opera into their curriculum, and the teachers who show interest are not just music teachers; they range from math teachers to librarians. The Dallas Opera also invites high school students to dress rehearsals. Up to 1000 dress rehearsal tickets are offered, free of charge. Last year alone, through all of these education programs, the Dallas Opera reached over 25,000 students. With the community outreach programs, including dress rehearsals, simulcast, hospital and nursing home programs, over 90,000 people were reached. You can find more information about their programs at http://dallasopera.org/learn/. -‐ 26 -‐
San Francisco Opera By Jane Hoffman The San Francisco Opera, the second largest opera company in the United States, is renowned for its ambitious programming and prescient casting choices. They offer a wide array of educational programs that range from educational and outreach programs for school age children, to programs designed to welcome families and first-‐time audience members. SFO’s educational programs empower educators and schools to make the best choices for their students by emphasizing flexibility and interdisciplinary integration. Each program is designed to blend seamlessly into any school’s curriculum. Opera ARIA (Arts Resources in Action) encompasses a series of programs which promote three core principles: cooperation between educators and teaching artists, adaptable content and implementation, and professional development for educators. Each level of the ARIA program is tailored to a different amount of classroom time and grade level. SFO encourages educators to adapt the program to fit their needs and the needs of their students. SFO offers educators hours of professional development that includes integrating the program and planning classroom activities. Although the ARIA program includes the option of a visit by SFO resident artists, the program does not focus solely on performers. Schools can receive visits from costume staff, set, or prop staff, tours of the history War Memorial Opera House and tickets to dress rehearsals, simulcasts, and student performances. SFO offers educators the option to simply attend professional development sessions, giving them the opportunity to incorporate opera in their classrooms as they see fit. Finally, the San Francisco Opera Guild offers many programs of its own which cater to every age group and commitment level. Together they offer educational programs to fit many different situations, and encourage educators to mold them to fit their own needs. SFO also welcomes new audiences to its own performances via educational programs centered on performances at the opera house. Even the most inexperienced audience member can feel right at home at the opera by taking advantage of some of their introductory programs. For adults, SFO offers free pre-‐performance lectures at every performance that cover the music, story, and historical background of each opera in less than half an hour. The San Francisco Opera Guild offers pre-‐performance panels on selected evenings. Working together with Opera Guilds from the Bay Area, the San Francisco Opera Guild invites composers, singers, librettists, and musicologists to share their insights into the works being performed. New audience members can also participate in an Opera Workshop, which give participants a behind-‐the-‐scenes look at how an opera is created; a Workshop next month will be led by composer Tobias Picker and will cover the creation of new operas. Even the SFO’s website offers resources for those who are not opera regulars. Their concise guides to “Opera Basics” (courtesy of San Diego Opera and Elizabeth Otten) and “New to Opera?” cover the most frequently asked questions in a warm and casual manner.
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The Metropolitan Opera By Naomi Sankaran The Metropolitan Opera is one of many opera companies that takes an interest in educating people about opera and making them feel involved in the opera community. They run both community and student programs. The student education programs have reached over 1600 schools in 20 different states. In the classroom, students learn about the different arts that make up opera: writing the librettos, acting out scenes, composing music, and designing costumes and sets. Then they have the Access Opera program which provides classes with the opportunity to see a dress rehearsal at the Met itself. The students can study the opera that they are going to attend in school before they go to the performance. The aim is to help them learn about the music and words of the opera and how it can be interpreted in different ways by different directors, conductors, and singers. The Met emphasises that, as opera is developing and changing constantly, it’s important that it is approached from new perspectives. Even those of us who live a long way away from New York are aware of what the Met does through their radio and Live in HD cinema broadcasts. The cinema broadcasts are also used for the Met’s HD Live in Schools program, in which classes and their teachers are given tickets to go to a performance in a local cinema. The Met provides teachers with suggestions for activities in lessons that relate to the opera that they are going to see. Afterwards, the students know something about the opera’s music and plot and can discuss the performance and think about what they liked or disliked about it. Of course, many teachers will not be confident in their knowledge of opera. The Met tries to help with this by offering workshops on introducing opera in schools. The Met also tries to help create an opera community and get more adults interested in opera. Their main work in this area is the lectures which take place at the Met. The lectures vary from masterclasses and interviews with singers to discussions about the characters and plots of certain operas. The Met also offers backstage tours for the public so that people can see how every part of opera comes together to make the productions that we see on stage.
Lyric Opera of Chicago By Valerie Demma Lyric Opera of Chicago has a long history with its educational outreach programs. Catering not only to young children but to the adults, students, and teachers of the Chicagoland community, Lyric is committed to introducing opera to people at all stages of life. Lyric’s grade-‐school programs include OperaKids and Opera in the Neighborhoods. OperaKids is open to children in grades 1-‐6 and is open to schools across the Chicagoland area. OperaKids prepares students for a performance of an original work through in-‐classroom sessions which are led by teaching artists from Lyric that involve music study, creative writing, drama, and movement. Teachers are also prepared for these sessions with professional development workshops. The program is quite popular and, more often than not, reaches capacity far before the deadline (as is the case with this upcoming school year). Opera in the Neighborhoods is an opera presented by Lyric that is tailored to younger audiences. Produced
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by the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, the production is usually a kid-‐friendly one. This year’s selection is The Barber of Seville and is performed by singers from Lyric’s young professionals program. The performances are in English and the story is abridged in order to make it a bit easier for young audiences to sit through. The performances are fully staged and costumed and accompanied by a live pianist. Study materials are provided for both the students and teachers. Opera in the Neighborhoods is performed at a number of remote locations around the city and suburbs, usually taking place in either a high school or college. The program is geared to entertain students from grade 3 and up. Lyric also offers student-‐centric backstage tours. Available to grades 3-‐12, the 80-‐minute tour takes students through the Civic Opera House from the wig department to the props displays to the catwalk. Lyric makes its full-‐length performances available to grade school students during the course of opera season. Student performances are offered at a discounted rate. This gives students the opportunity to experience a fully-‐staged opera in-‐house, up close and personal. In addition to its grade school programming, Lyric also offers the Teen Opera Circle. This program allows junior high and high school-‐aged students the opportunity to experience opera through in-‐depth, guided study. In addition to attending a performance, students also attend a dress rehearsal and are assisted by Lyric’s teaching artists. Lyric also provides resources for teachers to bring opera into their classrooms. A mailing list, workshops, and professional development seminars are available to educators interested in integrating opera into their classroom teaching. Lyric’s educational outreach has become more visible in the past few years especially with the naming of Renée Fleming as Lyric’s first-‐ever Creative Consultant in 2010. In her time in this position, Ms. Fleming has made many school and public appearances and worked with a number of school children and introduced them to opera through workshops and school appearances. All information from www.lyricopera.org
Washington National Opera The Washington National Opera boasts a thriving education program, teaching all ages about the wonders of opera. For the younger children, they have various programs including Kids Create Opera, Opera in the Outfield, and the NSO “petting zoo.” In Kids Create Opera, children are taught all the aspects needed to put on an opera and then, at the end of the program, they stage an opera of their own. The Opera in the Outfield program lets the children sit in on dress rehearsals, experience stage combat demonstrations, and try on the costumes that make up the opera world. The NSO Petting Zoo allows the kids to have hands-‐on fun with the instruments in the orchestra. For adults, WNO hosts “Explore the Arts,” which is a series of opportunities for community members to become immersed in the arts through master classes, lectures, open rehearsals, and workshops. You can get more information and read about all of their education initiatives on their website at http://www.kennedycenter.org/education.
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Music Education and Opera