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SF Opera's Apprentice Scene Program Begins Sunday

on August 11, 2017 - 6:40pm
A past performance from the Santa Fe Opera's Apprentice Scene Program. Courtesy/Santa Fe Opera
Los Alamos 

On the path down to the Dapples Pavilion Cantina at the Santa Fe Opera there is a paver with the inscription, “The SFO Apprentice Singers/ May Our Dreamers Become Our Stars." Stardom was in Joyce DiDonato’s future when she was an apprentice in 1995. She speaks with authority when she said, “The wonderful performing opportunities and intensive instructions the young artists receive here are invaluable and could very well be the building blocks to their own spectacular careers." 

Eight of the principle artists this season had been apprentices.

When John Crosby initiated the apprentice program in 1957 his goal was to give American singers training in Santa Fe. Before then their careers developed from training in Europe. More than 2,000 apprentices have benefitted from coaching and performing alongside seasoned principle artists. The teaching faculty this year includes diction coaches for English, Italian and Russian, voice teachers and repertory coaches.

Of the 44 apprentices this year, three were born in Canada, one in Mexico and three from overseas. Of those not born in the U.S. nearly all are in vocal training programs in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia or Bloomington. Former apprentices have expressed that vocal training programs give one a sense of how fragile the vocal apparatus is, and that participating in the SFO apprentice program grows your abilities in ways that make for greater confidence to progress in this demanding art form.

For each of the Apprentice Scenes Programs the SFO Music Staff of 12 take turns serving the apprentices as Music Director and piano accompanist. The printed programs describe the scenes being performed, and the Electronic Libretto System titles provide additional information for the audience.

Scenes for the Aug. 13 program come from Prokofieff’s Love for Three Oranges, Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, Moravec’s The Shining, and Wagner’s Rienzi. After the intermission there are scenes from Puccini’s Turandot, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ravel’s L’heure espagnole, and Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. The libretto for The Shining is by Mark Campbell, librettist for The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.

Among the apprentices for that evening  are singers that performed in this season’s operas in the roles of Lord Arturo Bucklaw and Normanno (Lucia), Ida and Dr. Blind (Die Fledermaus), and The Golden Cockerel and First Boyer (Golden Cockerel). Others have covered roles performed by principle artists, and all have been choristers for Die Fledermaus, Lucia, Golden Cockerel, or Steve Jobs.

Tickets are available for the 8 p.m. Apprentice Scenes for $15 (adults) and $5 (ages 6-22). 

A paver at the Santa Fe Opera. Courtesy/Carl Newton