There's the old joke among musicians that concerns a tourist
in New York who asks a passerby, "How do you get to Carnegie
Hall?" The answer, of course, is, "Practice!"
Practicing to sing opera is not a simple matter. One must sit at the piano for hours plunking out notes. That, however, only helps with notes. There is still the matter of that elusive thing called "stage presence" and the ability to belt out a high A-flat while dressed in a heavy costume, filling an auditorium with beautiful sound and convincing everyone that you really are in love with the count. That talent usually comes only after years of fully staged productions.
Getting from the piano to the stage is the business of Peabody's opera workshops and student performances in the "Opera Potpourri"--staged opera scenes without costumes, sung with a piano. The idea is to introduce voice students to opera in manageable, bite-sized chunks.
Last Monday and Tuesday in the conservatory's North Hall, 19 singers took the stage to perform duets and trios by Berlioz, Bizet, Delibes, Donizetti, Massenet, Offenbach and Strauss. They got not only experience on stage, but also exposure to some of the large-scale standard repertory that Peabody is less likely to present otherwise. The Peabody Opera Theatre's artistic director, Roger Brunyate, shared staging duties with Georgianna Eberhard; Ron Gretz did the music preparation.
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