On a finer note

Opera class started with a sing-off.Two students, ready to accept their challenge, took center stage to begin. Pianists started playing their keys and the conductor waved his wand from left to right, while the two students began at the top of their lungs — the rest of the students sitting in silence, watching the competition.A sing-off between two competing students in the opera program, is as intense as two basketball athletes facing off for first dibs on a jump ball, and the students in the College of the Arts and Music Department happen to have the dedication of athletes.

The time and hard work it takes for an opera singer to prepare for a show is a huge commitment, and the students have shown much dedication along their journey to becoming the best.

Although it is still the beginning of the semester, students in the opera program at CSUF have already begun competing for the positions in an upcoming College of the Arts production of Hansel and Gretel.

Gina Maldonado, a 25-year-old soprano studying vocal performance, won the role as the Sandman character in the opera, which, according to her, wasn’t an easy task to accomplish. “Being an opera student means putting a lot of time into what you do. We have to practice inside and outside of the classroom. I’m constantly going over my music notes and always trying to remember my character’s part,” said Maldonado.

Preparing for an opera production consists of some of the following difficult tasks — learning to read, understand and practice the music, critiquing the vocal segment of the performance, and memorizing the movements and the words.

It has taken some students over a decade to master the art of opera.

“I’m 53 right now… and I started singing and studying opera at 40. I decided to come back to school to pursue singing because it is my passion,” said Lilly Mettler, an alumna obtaining a bachelor’s degree in music and vocal performance.

The instructors at the Arts and Music Department have played a vital role in aiding their students to success. The students recognize their instructor’s effort and express great gratitude towards them.

“The opera program at (CSUF) — I feel truly prepared me musically (on) how to audition, and present yourself, et cetera. I feel that the instructors … really take the time to nurture the talent and abilities that you have,” Mettler said, who plays the role of the mother in Hansel and Gretel in the opera. Nettle, who graduated from the music program in 2004, has returned to sing with the music students.

The role of Gretel is being played by Saouson Jarjour, a 25-year-old vocal performance major. “The play and (the story) is about two kids finding love, security and family (when) they get trapped in the woods. Their imagination brings all these beautiful dreams to them (and) … it’s fun to see how the relationship (between the brother and sister) develops through the opera.

According to Jarjour, the music is inspired by folk music in Germany. “The music is absolutely gorgeous. A lot of the songs that you will hear are probably (from) music that you heard when you were a child. It’s a wonderful show and it’s a famous story, so I think that people should bring their children and come out to see it.”

The art and music majors will continue to work long hours preparing for the opera, which will make its premiere in April.

ajai guyot