Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Summer at Camp: A Voice Teacher's Perspective

Mezzo-soprano Nicole Mitchell was asked to join the artistic faculty of the 2012 Sarasota Youth Opera Summer Camp just this past June.  Her primary responsibility was teaching voice.  Ms. Nicole, as the campers called her, has been both an apprentice artist and studio artist with Sarasota Opera and won critical acclaim for her performance of Tituba in the 2011 production of Robert Ward's The Crucible.
We asked her to write up what her experience was like and the challenges she faced working with such young singers.  Here is what she had to say: 

Mezzo-soprano Nicole Mitchell
When I was asked to be a part of Sarasota Opera's 2012 Youth Opera Summer Camp I have to say I was THRILLED!!!  As thrilled as I was though, I was also a bit nervous and perplexed at how I would be able to relay information on the process of singing to almost four dozen children- whose ages ranged from about seven to eighteen years old. Overall, I was excited at the opportunity to share what I've learned as a classically trained singer, but I was also excited to be on the receiving end of knowledge as well. Nothing hones a teacher's skills better than their students. 

Learning how to sing in the classical style is more than just learning how to sing a song without a microphone. It is about what one does physically, emotionally and mentally to prepare BEFORE using the vocal cords.  Teaching voice to a group is a challenge in that you must find the simplest way to convey knowledge to over forty minds about posture, good breathing technique, pitch accuracy, scales, diction and name a few, in a limited amount of time. 
Over the three-week period I saw the young singers, some with more abandon, others a little shyer, take chances in trying to do what was asked of them during different exercises.  It was great to see youthful courage, enthusiasm and imagination being used from the many. At times it was a bit daunting as they were asked to combine the information they'd received, not only from my instructions, but that of their other teachers as well. The art of an artist at any age is the effective merging of their talents with their acquired skills and techniques to make a performance look "easy".  
Members of the Sarasota Youth Opera perform a
selection from Little Nemo in Slumberland
on the last day of camp.

In the end, what I was most proud of for each student is that they stepped out of their comfort zones and tried and succeeded! They gave their ALL which is what great performers do. I was thoroughly impressed at their willingness to put their best creative selves forward. In the camp's final exhibition, the young artists sang, emoted and moved in character to tell the stories they were involved in from excerpts of Puccini's Turandot, Verdi's Macbeth and the upcoming children's opera Little Nemo in Slumberland by composer Daron Hagen. I was SO proud!!!

What I stressed most for the young artists during our three weeks together is that they try their best in all they do. Try, just try. You can't go wrong from there because you'll learn something new no matter what.  Now isn't that good advice for us all? It was good for me!

-- Nicole Mitchell

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Single Tickets for the 2012-2013 Festival Season
On Sale Online TODAY

Sarasota, FL – Single tickets go on sale online at to the general public Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 for Sarasota Opera’s 2012-2013 Fall and Winter Festival seasons, the company’s 54th consecutive season.  Sarasota Opera continues its tradition of assembling casts of international talent to perform a mixture of classic favorites paired with rarely performed works of artistic excellence in the beautiful historic Sarasota Opera House.                  
The fall 2012 season opens with the return of the acclaimed Sarasota Opera production of Verdi’s Rigoletto (Oct. 26 – Nov. 12), last seen in 2008 as the opera chosen to commemorate the re-opening of the newly renovated Sarasota Opera House.  Interspersed between the final two performances of Rigoletto will be the Sarasota Youth Opera world premiere of their fifth commissioned opera Little Nemo in Slumberland (Nov. 10 – 11), music by Daron Hagen and story by J.D. McClatchy. 
Title page of the score of Puccini's Turandot(Ricordi, Milan),
c. 1926 (akg-images)
Opening the 2013 Winter Festival on February 9th will be Giacomo Puccini’s vocally extravagant Turandot, the largest production ever mounted at Sarasota Opera.  Immediately following will be Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, Verdi’s second opera A King for a Day (the 29th installment of Sarasota Opera’s ongoing Verdi Cycle) and Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men (the third opera presented in the company’s ongoing American Classics Series).  The Winter Festival will close on March 24th with The Verdi Concert: Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Verdi featuring Sarasota Opera soloists, chorus and orchestra conducted by Maestro Victor DeRenzi. 
Additional concerts available for ticket purchase will be the Apprenctice & Studio Artists Concert: Verdi’s Times on March 8, 2013 and the Artists Choice Concert on March 17, 2013.  Also available will be Sarasota Opera’s ongoing lecture series entitled Meet the Artists where patrons are offered an insider’s perspective as Maestro DeRenzi interviews the singers, directors and designers of all 6 of the Sarasota Opera productions. 
Due to the overwhelming popularity of our matinee performances, Sarasota Opera will continue to offer weekday matinees during the fall and winter season for specific performances of Rigoletto, Turandot and The Pearl Fishers.  All matinee performances begin at 1:30pm.  Check or call the box office for specific dates. 
And patrons travel from around the world for Sarasota Opera’s “Opera Lovers’ Weekend”!  Perfect for those with a tighter travel schedule, Sarasota Opera offers three consecutive weekends in March where anyone can see all 4 operas in 3 days!  Dates for the 2013 Season are March 8-10, March 15-17, or March 22-24.  Log on to for more information. 
Single tickets go on sale in the Box Office on September 4, 2012.  Subscription packages are still available for purchase in four and five show packages through the Box Office as well. 
2012 Fall Season

Opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
Based on the play Le Roi s’amuse by Victor Hugo
Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Sarasota Opera House
Performances (6):   Oct. 26, 28(m), Nov. 1, 3, 7, 12(m)

Little Nemo in Slumberland  
Sarasota Youth Opera World Premiere
An opera in two acts by Daron Aric Hagen and Libretto by J.D. McClatchy
Based on the comic strips by Winsor McCay
Sung in English with English supertitles  

Sarasota Opera House
Performances (2): Nov. 10 and 11

2013 Winter Festival

Sarasota Opera Premiere
Opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni
Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Sarasota Opera House
Performances (11):  February 9, 12, 17(m), 20, 23, 28, Mar. 3(m), 10, 15, 19(m), 23

The Pearl Fishers (Les Pěcheurs de perles)
Opera in three acts by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Michel Carré and Eugène Cormon
Sung in French with English supertitles

Sarasota Opera House
Performances (9):  Feb. 16, 19, 21, 24(m), 27, Mar. 1, 8(m), 16(m), 22

A King for a Day (Un giorno di regno)
World Premiere of a New Critical Edition
Opera in two acts by Giuseppe Verdi
Poetry by Felice Romani
Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Sarasota Opera House
Performances (7):  Mar. 2, 5, 7, 10(m), 13, 16, 24(m)

Of Mice and Men  
Sarasota Opera Premiere
Opera in three acts
Music and libretto by Carlisle Floyd after the novel and play of the same name by John Steinbeck
Sung in English with English supertitles
Performances (6):  Mar. 9, 12, 14, 17(m), 20, 23(m)