Opera Hits a High Note in Musical Showcase
Updated February 25, 2003
HOLLAND -- Hope College's department of music has
long enjoyed a great national, reputation for choral work,
but a new area of growth will hit the high notes during the
15th Annual Hope College Musical Showcase, to be held
Monday, March 3, at 8 p.m. at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids.
Three different opera pieces will be part of the
evening's program. The program will include a song from
Ludwig van Beethoven's "Fidelio," a scene from Douglas
Moore's "The Ballad of Baby Doe" and a song from Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart's "Cosi fan Tutti." The selections have been
prepared through both the college's Opera Workshop and
individual lessons with Hope faculty members.
"Opera today is also a highly dramatic art form.
Modern audiences are not going to be interested just in good
singing--they want to see the character, the emotions,
everything," said Margaret Kennedy-Dygas, a professor at
Hope College who coordinates the voice program and directs
the Opera Workshop. "Training a singer to perform anything
in opera involves training the whole person--the vocal
technique, and also the actor, the mover, the emoting
As a result, Kennedy-Dygas works with the
singer/actors to intensify and extend emotions and attitudes
that happen normally in a second or two, since opera often
plays those emotions out with the music. The benefit of all
the effort is that a great deal of depth is added through
"The listener really experiences the character's
feelings in a deeper way, through a good operatic setting,"
That's where the college's Opera Workshop comes
in. While the choral tradition is already part of Hope's
program, the college is now providing an intensive opera
"Singers who are already enrolled in voice study
may participate in Opera Workshop for training in the use of
the hands, body, voice and emotions in the context of
excerpts from full-length operas," Kennedy-Dygas said.
Alyson Payne of Three Oaks is a senior who has
been studying voice during all four of her years at Hope
College. She will be singing an aria from Beethoven's
"Fidelio" and will be portraying Augusta Tabor from "The
Ballad of Baby Doe."
"I like the challenge that opera offers, both
dramatically and musically," Payne said. "And I like that I
get to pretend that I'm different people, and I don't get in
trouble for it."
Payne has been preparing her "Fidelio" aria
through individual study with Professor Linda Dykstra, and
for her role in "The Ballad of Baby Doe" through Opera
Workshop. Juniors Sara Luneack of Alma and Abby Whitenight
of Ludington have prepared for the "Cosi fan Tutti" duet
through study with Dykstra and Professor Stuart Sharp.
Luneack, like Payne, is also performing in the
Opera Workshop presentation. The other students performing
through Opera Workshop are sophomore Abbie Matthews of Fort
Wayne, Ind.; junior Carmen Rabbitt of Muskegon; sophomore
Rachel Trautwein of Wheaton, Ill.; and sophomore pianist Joe
Turbessi of Nunica.
Kennedy-Dygas noted the increased attention to
opera is finding only support among the faculty.
"All the voice faculty at Hope believe that the
deepened qualities of opera can be used even in classical
concert solos, to increase the impact of the resources at
the singer's disposal," she said. "There is a trickle-down
effect of operatic training into any solo that a voice
student might present."
Tickets for Musical Showcase are $10 each, and may
be ordered through the Office of Public Relations at Hope
College. The office, open from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m.
Monday through Friday, is located on the second floor of the
DeWitt Center and may be called at (616) 395-7860.
Tickets may also be purchased over the counter at
the Grand Center Ticket Office, which is open Monday through
Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In addition, tickets may be ordered by phone
through Ticketmaster by calling (616) 456-3333. A service
fee is added to the cost of each ticket purchased this way.