We all know that opera is intense, right? I mean I think it can be assumed that it's the nature of opera to be intense. It's intense for the audience, intense for the singers, composers, maestros, orchestra members, set designers, crew, etc.
But what about for the young student who aspires to make their way to the professional stage? It opera still "intense"? When you don't have the pressure of singing over an orchestra and playing deep emotions to a packed arena or concert hall, is it still intense? When you are only learning the basics.. intense??
I can say from experience that yes, yes it is.
I just spent six weeks in a small Italian town, intensely studying opera and the Italian language. While it was one of the most rewarding and impactful experiences of my life, it was still an exhausting and, you guessed it, intense one.
I spent six weeks in Urbania, Italy with the program Si Parla, Si Canta! I had the opportunity to perform opera scenes and solos in numerous concerts, I learned under famous professional opera singers, and learned Italian from people who were born and raised in Italy. When I talk about it I can't wrap my head around the fact that I did all of that, but it was real, and I sure did do it.
As a person, I can say that it was one of the most challenging things I've ever done. Day to day was very manageable, but jam packed with learning, rehearsing, and silent practicing. Looking back, my resilience surprises me. I made friendships that will last well into my career, and hopefully we will be performing with one another someday.
As a musician, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Again, INTENSE. Full on immersion, 100% of the time. There was no distraction of a science or math class, no extra-curricular activities to participate in, but only opera and Italian, all day, every single day.
I learned so much about my own voice, musicality, performing as a character with a purpose, diction, meaning behind words, work ethic, etc. I truly feel that I took the next step toward being the musician I hope to become some day.
Through all of this, I gained a much deeper love, and a solidified sense of joy for music and performing. Understanding more of what a composer wanted is so essential to the art, and that's what we did - delved deep into the music and every dot of ink on a page.
I'm thankful for this opportunity, I'm thankful for music.