By Arielle Feldman |
April 4, 2019

UCF Opera director Thomas Potter took his Opera Workshop students to see a final dress rehearsal of Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco at the Sarasota Opera House. A theater on the National Register of Historic Places, the Sarasota Opera House is owned by the Sarasota Opera, which has one of the top training programs for young singers in the country.

“The thing that on-campus classes cannot offer opera students is a perspective as to what the expectations are of young opera singers on what I like to call ‘the other side of Alafaya Trail,” said Potter. “This is where the annual event of experiencing a high-quality live opera performance can motivate and inspire our students to strive to be the very best they can be.”

For UCF Opera students who attended the rehearsal, the experience proved to be invaluable. Keely Parker, a first year-graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in music, had never seen Nabucco before the rehearsal, so she was amazed to experience it at live at one of the most respected opera houses in the country.

“Singers say that working with Victor DeRenzi, the principal conductor of Sarasota Opera, is as close as you can get to working with Verdi himself,” said Parker. “As someone who studies voice and aims to sing opera professionally, it’s exhilarating to hear singers who are at the top of their game and doing what I want to do.”

In addition to observing the rehearsal, students were able to meet the conductor, stage director and cast members after the performance to get further insight into the opera industry and network with colleagues and professionals.

“Seeing Sarasota Opera’s incredible performers made me think about aspects of my own vocal technique that I need to improve,” said Parker. “But more importantly, it reminded me why I study voice, and that’s because I just love opera.”

Along with these outreach events, the UCF Opera program offers classes in vocal technique, diction, language, music theory and music history, as well as private voice lessons. Students also get several solo performance opportunities each semester through voice area recitals, music forums and studio classes.

“The UCF opera program is small but mighty!” said Parker. “I’ve learned not only how to be a better singer, but how to move confidently on stage and create compelling characters.”

To learn more about the UCF Opera program, visit its website.