Opera workshop previews young talent

 

The sounds of opera will fill the Light Recital Hall Tuesday night as the music department hosts this semester’s Opera Workshop.

The UW-Whitewater Opera Workshop will headline two free operas at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 in an effort to teach students between the productions put on every two to three years.

The two one-act comedies, “The Telephone” and “Signor Deluso,” will be performed in full.

“The Telephone,” a 1947 opera by Gian-Carlo Menotti, features the story of Ben, a man who wants to propose to his girlfriend before he leaves on a trip, and Lucy, a girl too preoccupied with conversations on the phone to give Ben the time of day.

“Signor Deluso,” Thomas Pasatieri’s opera from 1974, is the tale of a love triangle gone awry as several couples assume their respective partners are being unfaithful. Insults and accusations fly until one lover’s maid arrives to sort the confusing mess out.

Junior Emily Roach will be playing the role of Rosine in “Signor Deluso.” She said her love affair with opera began at the age of 12 when she first heard professionals sing the classical pieces she had been learning.

Roach

“My love for opera grew from a deep admiration of the singers I first listened to, like Renee Fleming and Luciano Pavarotti,” Roach said. “I decided at age 12 that I wanted to be able to sing like those incredibly gifted people one day, and I’ve been pushing myself ever since.”

Roach said her inspiration to pursue opera came from her first voice teacher, Bob Mirshak, who taught her that it’s not so much what’s on the page that matters, but it’s what you feel and what you make your audience feel.

This passion and determination, plus encouragement from her current vocal teacher and Opera Workshop Director Brian Leeper, drove Roach to audition for La Musica Lirica, a six-week program for performance artists who want to gain valuable training and experience in the craft of opera before graduating.

Roach was cast as the maid named Berta in a production of La Musica Lirica’s “The Barber of Seville.” She had to fundraise in order to travel to the small Italian town of Novafeltria. She received Italian lessons every morning, along with voice and dictation coaching.

“It was a truly amazing, life-changing experience,” Roach said. “I was honored to perform onstage alongside an incredibly talented cast.”

She said being an opera singer requires constant awareness. Having her voice as an instrument means Roach always has to be aware of how she’s using it.

“You can’t simply leave it at home and go yell and cheer at a sporting event,” Roach said. “You always have to be conscious of your vocal health.”

After graduating from UW-Whitewater, Roach plans to attend graduate school. After that, she said she wants to audition as much as possible for any opera she can, hopefully seeing the world in the process.

“I look forward to the day when I can list ‘opera singer’ as my official job title,” she said.

Leeper

Despite the difficulties of being an opera singer, Roach said giving up has never been an option for her. The competition can be ruthless, but she has never lost sight of her end goal, she added.

“This profession is for people who are passionate about music and are not easily deterred from their hopes and dreams,” she said.

Director Brian Leeper said Roach shines as a comedic actress in “Signor Deluso.”

“She has a really magnetic presence on stage,” Leeper said. “She can really draw the audience in.”

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