It would seem a daunting big deal for any 16-year-old to sing opera at both the Kennedy Center and in the Abramson Family Recital Hall at American University. Still, soprano Rosemarie Chandler, along with 29 other young performers will do just that Friday and Saturday. And they can't wait to show off what they have learned.
If you go Washington National Opera Institute Opera Scenes Recital Where: American University Katzen Art Center, Abramson Family Recital Hall, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW When: 7 p.m. Friday Millennium Stage Recital Where: The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW When: 6 p.m. Saturday Info: Free performances; reservations not required
As part of an intensive, three-week summer program, which culminates this weekend, specially chosen staff at the Washington National Opera Institute at American University have been preparing teens, ages 15 to 18, for professional careers in opera. "The program is 12 years old and so the first students are now in their early 30s [and] they are just now starting their careers as opera singers," Christiane Boles, the program's coordinator and educational associate, said.
This one-of-a-kind Opera Institute has been designed for exceptionally talented and committed students. Daily instruction included drama, movement, music theory, opera history and Italian diction. Experienced artists conducted master classes on the practical applications of auditioning, vocal health and goal setting.
"It's been an amazing experience," Rosemarie said. "We're being immersed in this deep culture of opera. We're with other people who love doing the same things we do, so there's all this passion in the air [to] take us to the next level."
For now, the next level is live performance using the tools they have been given.
"The Kennedy Center is the big reward for the students and the big, final concert is [tonight] at American University," Boles said.
Opera scenes are on the program for this evening's concert. These will be sung in English and include classics such as the chorus scene from Verdi's "La Traviata," and a sextet from Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutti."
At the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage on Saturday, students will perform a series of Italian art songs and these will be presented in Italian, as well. Both recitals are free and open to the public.
"I've learned so many new things that I have been able to apply to the art of opera," Rosemarie said. "[These] will be professional performances."