Opera singers enjoy randy good fun in Le Nozze di Figaro
The singers of Vancouver Summer Opera Studio, led by director Andy Maton and conducted by Kinza Tyrrell, have spent their August romping through Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, which was first banned in Vienna for its racy content.
Their work will culminate in two performances August 25 and 26 at the Koerner Recital Hall at the Vancouver Academy of Music.
"I've reset it into the modern times in the court of (long standing Italian politician and media tycoon) Silvio Berlusconi notorious for his bunga bunga parties, " explained Maton, while on a short break from rehearsal.
"I felt that there was a link to the Marriage of Figaro as it's also all about who wants to have sex with who."
Double cast to accommodate the participants hailing from all over the US, Canada and as far away as Brazil and Korea, VSOS, produced by Natalie Burdeny, offers an opportunity to work on a role. It's unlike theatre or dance, where everyone comes together on the first day of rehearsal to create a work of art together. Opera singers start the process already off book, knowing their music and having ideas about character.
This three-week summer school enables these young artists on the verge of major careers to engage with working professionals in developing their repetoire of roles and networking with an international cast and artistic team.
New York-based soprano Kristen Jayne (Barbarina) recently graduated with a Masters of Music from the University of Oklahoma, where she studied with renowned Met baritone Kim Josephson. She chatted with a group of fellow participants while enjoying the gorgeous August weather in Vancouver.
"It's a great opportunity to get nurturing when learning roles so when you get to a company, you can feel super comfortable."
Vancouver native and lyric baritone, Alistair Smyth (Count Almaviva) recently completed studies with JoAnne Bentley at the University of Toronto. He has performed around Toronto and Vancouver with organizations such as Opera in Concert, Essential Opera, and the Orpheus Choir of Toronto explained how opera singers differ from other musicians.
"It's important to get experience in learning how to sing the role," he said. "Singers don't get as much opportunity to learn how to organize, assimilate and practice a role as other musicians. "
Learning the technique of singing and music theory at any number of well reputed post secondary undergraduate and masters programs plus studying with private teachers all over the world is the norm for opera training but VSOS gives them the opportunity to learn how to build a role.
"I love working with young emerging professionals right on the cusp of their careers," enthused Maton. "I've directed numerous theatre productions including musical theatre, but this is my first opera. It's exciting to branch out and help them realize that, these days, opera singers have to be good actors as well."
IN BRIEF: Vancouver Summer Opera Studio presents Le Nozze di Figaro at the Koerner Recital Hall (1270 Chestnut Drive) on Sat. August 25 @ 7pm and Sun. August 26 @ 2pm. Fully staged opera sung in Italian. Admission by Donation – “Pay what you can”