For one group of students at Ave Maria University, October 9, 2016 is a night to remember forever. Just as the sun had set over the campus mall, they began to gather in front of the Oratory. Three students dressed all in black crossed the boulevard, coming from the dorms. Another two meandered across the piazza. Two more walked down the mall. Slowly, the group of twelve came together on the steps of the Oratory.
When everyone was assembled, they filed into a white van and took off down Ave Maria Boulevard, heading towards Naples.
What were these students up to on this balmy November night? They were about to perform with Opera Naples in a semi-staged production of Puccini’s opera, Turandot—the tale of a cold-hearted princess whose heart is conquered by a bold and daring suitor.
At the Opera Naples 2016 production of Turandot, AMU students were part of a chorus of over one hundred singers, including members of the Opera Naples Chorus and the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers. They were accompanied by the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, and directed by world-renowned conductor, Maestro Ramón Tebar. Onstage, they sang alongside great operatic talents such as Betsy Dias (Liù), Thiago Arancam (Calaf) and Marcy Stonikas (Turandot).
The chance to perform with an opera company was a special one for AMU senior Sarah Gosselin, who isn’t even majoring in Music—she is studying Health Science. “I knew this was going to be a rare opportunity, so I wanted to take in every moment of it!” she exclaims.
Sophomore Francesco D’ Agostino, who is a Music Major with a concentration in piano, said that it was “such a gift” to participate in an opera production for the first time with Opera Naples.
Freshman Cassie Schultz was likewise mindful of the rare and exciting opportunity to be involved in a professional production. “Being in Turandot was an incredible experience,” she remarks afterwards. “I was in awe by the skills of the maestro, the amazing music, the talented performers, and the fact that I was involved in this production with such talented people! It made me more interested in opera and really inspired me.“
“This was such an amazing opportunity,” Katia Rezende, Administrative Assistant to the Music Department, explains, “because our students not only got to witness first-hand the whole process of putting together a production of this caliber, but they also actually got to be active participants!” She noted that Robin Frank (Chorus Master, Music Administrator, and Director of Educational Outreach for Opera Naples) was largely to thank for offering AMU students this chance to sing in a professional opera company production. She also commended the efforts of the Music Department Chair, Dr. Helen Tintes, together with Visiting Associate Professor of Music, Dr. Taylor Ferranti, for bringing the whole thing together.
“Singing with Opera Naples,” Sarah Gosselin concludes, “will be a performance that I will remember forever.”
Look out over the next few weeks for the many more exciting performances the Music Department has planned!
Monday, November 21: The Opera Workshop class [MUSC 415] will be presenting Opera Scenes Outdoors after the 5pm Mass. Students and members of the University community are invited to spread out on picnic blankets and lawn chairs while enjoying beautiful music in the beautiful outdoors.
Tuesday, November 29: AMU senior Music Major Megan Miller will be performing her senior capstone project—a full voice recital in the Student Union Private Dining Room.
Saturday, December 3: The Ave Maria University Choir joins forces with the AMU Men and Women’s Scholae and the children’s choir from Donahue Academy to present the tenth annual Lessons & Carols service, a musical celebration of the season of Advent that features hymns and choral arrangements, alternated with Biblical readings, in preparation of the birth of our Lord. (7pm, Ave Maria Oratory)
Tuesday, December 6: The Opera Workshop class will present a second performance of their staged opera scenes, this time indoors in the Student Union’s Private Dining Room.