The Vocal Performance students from the choir received a few special opportunities while we were in Detmold. On Thursday (2/17), we were invited to attend a final dress rehearsal of two Detmold Landestheater Studio Artists who were presenting a Liederabend concert later that weekend. As a part of their training, the baritone and mezzo both take lessons at the Hochschule. When speaking with them after their program, we were surprised to find out how nervous they were about their English (which was very good!) because we were there. On Friday (2/18) we were treated to a master class led by Soprano soloist and head of the Hochschule Voice Program, Caroline Thomas who was assisted by Thomas (Opera Studio Stage Director) and Fabio (Opera Conductor/Opera Studio Coach) at the piano. University of Minnesota graduate students Brianna Farah, Anna DeGraff, Zachary Colby, and John Grau sang in addition to sophomore Tim Murray (B.M. Voice Performance and B.A. Theater) to whom I posed the following questions:
DK: Have you sung in a master class before?
TM: This was not my first master class, but I was extremely excited to receive feedback from teachers that have different ways of viewing opera and performance.
DK: What were your expectations before you sang?
TM: I expected to sing and receive feedback and work through my selection. I expected there to be a sort of "fourth wall" between me and the teachers, where I'm on stage and they comment from the audience.
DK: So, were your expectations met?
TM: Yes, for the most part, but I have never been in a master class where the coach stands right next to you and acts along with you while you sing! It was great to feed off Thomas's (the Stage Director) energy and I got some great tips and ideas for coloring my piece!
DK: Any lasting impressions?
TM: I was so thankful for Caroline Thomas's directness. I feel that many times in America, we are so worried about hurting student's feelings, but Caroline was so direct and got right to the heart of the problem instead of "sugar-coating" every comment. I also really enjoyed the collaboration of Thomas, the Opera Stage Director, who focused on the acting of our pieces, Caroline, a voice professor, who focused on vocal technique, and Fabio, the Opera Conductor, who focused on diction and coloration. Together, the three coaches were outstanding! It was so helpful to gain a different perspective and discover new ways of thinking about vocal production and performance!
One final unexpected and unplanned interaction came on Sunday (2/19) when Anna and I were eating lunch all alone in the Mensa (Hochschule Cafeteria). Fabio saw us sitting there and asked if we would be interested in watching him work with a Chinese soprano who was a graduate of the Opera Studio and who was in Detmold to coach the role of Violetta in La Traviata for an upcoming professional engagement. It was an amazing experience to watch him coach her in the Italian text of the opera (his native language), speak to her in German and to us in English. As we left his studio, we both felt extremely fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time.
Here's a video of Dale and Tim in the anticipation of rehearsal!