UofT Opera | First year Masters student Saige Carlson recaps DAY THREE in NYC.
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First year Masters student Saige Carlson recaps DAY THREE in NYC.

First year Masters student Saige Carlson recaps DAY THREE in NYC.

Some of my colleagues and I started out the morning by grabbing breakfast (and some much-needed COFFEE) and walking to The National Opera Center, where we had our annual sing-out. Every year at University of Toronto Opera we have a “sing-in” at the beginning of the academic year in which we get to hear each other sing for the first time, and then a “sing-out” at the end of the year. We perform whatever we want in the sing-out – and I mean Whatever. We. Want. Repertoire ranges from opera to musical theatre to cabaret to arias that we would never sing in real life; highlights from this morning include several duets and one mezzo-turned-baritone-aria. Not only was it a wonderful opportunity to hear everyone’s progress from this year, but it was just plain good fun in a pressure-free atmosphere.
One of the realities of a long and intense education in classical music is the struggle for students to maintain their passion for music amidst the endless coachings, lessons, constructive criticism, and a practically around-the-clock immersion in the art form. This career and lifestyle is one that must be carefully balanced with an ability to find joy in the process. Singers do not thrive on just “getting through”, and I always feel so privileged when I get to be a part of one of those rare opportunities to let loose and sing beautifully without caring about being judged. This morning was a perfect example of joyous singing from everyone.

Shortly following the sing-out, we hopped over to the The Triple Crown Ale House & Restaurant to have a delicious lunch together before heading back to the National Opera Center for an informative and inspiring masterclass with mezzo-soprano MaryAnn McCormick. Ms. McCormick teaches at New England Conservatory, and we were very lucky to catch her for a class in New York! She is one of those singers who exudes passion for her craft, and it was truly a joy to watch her work wonders with my colleagues.

Fast-forward a couple of hours and we are all dressed up for a stunning dinner at Landmarc, followed by the final opera performance of the trip: La Traviata. No matter how many times I have heard opera live, I find myself absolutely astonished by the singers’ artistry and technical ability every single time. We can practise and take lessons and work to keep our voices resonant until we’re blue in the face, but I cannot stress how incredibly important it is for us to attend live performances. Sitting in The Metropolitan Opera tonight watching this stunningly beautiful production, I couldn’t help but feel that the singers playing Violetta and Alfredo were giving us a masterclass in breath control, ease in sound production, and vocal colour, without even knowing that we exist. Being able to witness this level of music-making is truly a privilege, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to come to New York for the first time with my colleagues and immerse myself in this world. As I write this (I don’t want to admit how late it is, because we have to leave for the airport at 7:45 tomorrow morning), my colleagues are celebrating the final night of UofT Opera 2018-19, and as I look around at each of them I still cannot believe how fast this year has gone by, and how incredibly grateful I am to have worked with these people. My cup runneth over.

Photos: Having lunch at Triple Crown Ale House; selfies before the show; and couldn’t resist a photo of the chandeliers in the Met lobby….