Opera workshop comes to music department

By: Jonathan Hogue ~Opinions & Editorials Editor~

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Hogue | Freshman Christian Longberry, junior Stephanie Ambrose, junior Nick McGill and Professor Umphreys at rehearsal for “Così fan tutte.”

The music department offered an opera workshop this semester focused on bringing new life to the art form in Cincinnati.

Professors Thom Dreeze and Matthew Umphreys lead a class of seven music and nonmusic majors through several movements of Mozart’s “Così fan tutte.” The workshop culminates with a free performance of “Così” and is the department’s way of bringing opera performance to Xavier students.

“Singing opera is like rubbing your tummy and patting your head,” Dreeze said. “Different from musical theater, it combines performing on stage and singing the drama of the text with other musicians.”

Dreeze is an adjunct who teaches private vocal lessons and has experience performing with the Cincinnati Opera. Umphreys is a Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music-trained pianist who has coached performers in both operas and musical theater productions. Both offer students a unique insight into performance and provide time to speak with professionals in the business.

“Opera is a really incredible art form in that it involves music performance,” Umphreys said. “It provides the theatrical visual excitement that has kept theater alive and couples it with the fireworks of the singers during their performance.”

The “Così fan tutte” performance is the focus of the class, along with how students develop their voices. The class is open to all majors but requires an audition to gain entry.

Junior Stephanie Ambrose, a vocal performance major, said she sees the value of an opera workshop being offered at Xavier.

“Thom and Matthew have been great teachers for us and students’ insights about the characters, the plot and how to give an accurate portrayal of the characters we are playing,” Ambrose said.

“Also, the guest presenters are individuals who perform or work with singers in Cincinnati and give us information about how to succeed as a performer in the classical music and opera world.”

Xavier students interested in seeing the “Così” performance can see the cast at 8 p.m. on April 26 in Long Recital Hall. Admission is free, and students who are interested in taking an opera workshop class are highly encouraged to attend.

“People should see Così because it’s fun, witty and entertaining,” Ambrose said.

Students interested in the workshhop should contact Dreeze at dreezet@xavier.edu and Umphreys at umphreysm@ xavier.edu.