A travel brochure from the Italian government encourages readers to visit Italy to “realize your dreams.” This summer, four Petrie School of Music sophomores will be doing just that. They will not be in Italy for the scenery however; they have been invited to perform with musicians from throughout the world for two highly prestigious institutions.
Christina Goyne, Lauren Maxwell, and Kristin Williams will be in Rome June 26-July 26 as lead performers with Operafestival di Roma. Leigh Ann Murdaugh will be in Tuscany for the Siena Summer Session for Music and the Arts July 19-August 19. Their invitations came after extensive auditions.
Operafestival di Roma
With Operafestival di Roma, Christina, Lauren, and Kristin landed key roles in a production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Each leading role is double-cast so that singers have the necessary rehearsal and stage time necessary to fully develop the role. Christina, a student of Dr. Susan Lyle, will perform the role of Cherubino, while Lauren and Kristin, both students of Dr. Beverly Hay, have both been cast in the role of Barbarina. Competition for the roles was fierce as auditions were held in ten U.S. cities from October through February.
The fully staged opera will be presented in the 15th century courtyard of S. Ivo alla Sapienza in central Rome. Performers will sing in Italian with original costumes and lighting, and will be accompanied by the Orchestra Sinfonica dell’ International Chamber Ensemble. Christina, Lauren, and Kristin’s days in Italy will be filled with master classes, coaching, lessons in lyric diction, voice and conversational Italian, and rehearsals for the opera. “This is a professional operation that comes with professional expectations,” said Dr. Hay. “They will be working with professional coaches and conductors as well as stage directors. In addition, they will have extensive coaching in Italian and the opportunity to experience another culture.”
The performance will mark Christina’s second experience with Operafestival di Roma, and gives her a bit of an edge in knowing what to expect. “When I was 16-years-old, I was a choral member for Operafestival,” said the now 19-year-old Christina, a native of Charlottsville, VA. “We will often sing from 7 a.m. until 12 a.m. Opening night can be especially daunting because very influential critics write their reviews based upon that performance. I’m a little bit nervous because I do not necessarily ‘look’ Italian, and the critics love to pick on international performers.”
To add authenticity to their roles, Dr. Valerie MacPhail, Lecturer of Voice in the Petrie School, is serving as their diction coach. “The diction sessions are very important because we are learning the common phrases and nuances of the Italian language,” said Christina.
Being selected to perform with Operafestival di Roma can mean a great deal in the growth of an artist, and Aiken, SC native Lauren gives much credit to the instruction the three students have received at Converse. “The environment at Converse is a great environment for developing artists,” she said. “Dr. Hay in particular is very picky and wants everything to be as good as it possibly can. She takes detail to the extreme, which is very important for a singer.”