YBOP, Lalli’s ‘pursuit of excellence’ have served scores of Yale musicians

To the Editor:

Thomas Kaplan’s two articles (“Music prof. Lalli named JE master” 3/6, and “For Lalli, curtains open on unforeseen act” 3/6) beautifully capture the excitement generated by the appointment of Richard Lalli as the new master of Jonathan Edwards College.

Lalli’s commitment to students and to music, particularly vocal music, at Yale is unique and already legendary. Kaplan’s article sounded one wrong note, however, when he credited the Yale Baroque Opera Project (YBOP) of which Lalli is artistic director, with offering undergraduates “the chance to dabble in 17th-century Italian opera.” This hardly does justice to either Lalli or the Baroque Opera Project.

Anyone in the audience who saw the first YBOP production at Sprague last November, Ardo, based on a dramatic sequence of Monteverdi madrigals, knows that the students’ achievement was not the result of mere dabbling but of an intense professional commitment to the hard work and long hours demanded of them by Richard Lalli’s pursuit of excellence. The same level of achievement will surely be evident in the YBOP production of Monteverdi’s Orfeo this coming April.

Many music graduates of the College — not necessarily majors — taught by Lalli have achieved recognition in the professional world of opera, particularly early opera.

Recent graduates Charlotte Dobbs ’05 and Kimberly DeQuattro ’03, both Sudler Award winners, and Stephen Hopkins ’06, to name just three, have completed graduate programs and are embarking on professional careers.

Undergraduates from the 90s, Bejun Mehta ’90 and Sari Gruber ’93, have performed Handel and Mozart at the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera.

And Lauren Worsham ’05, who sang Cherubino in Yale College Opera’s 2005 production of “The Marriage of Figaro” is currently the lead in the New York City Opera production of “Candide.” Equally important is the impact Yale’s undergraduate operatic ventures have had on directors, conductors, designers and producers.

Andrew Eggert ’00 attended Columbia as a musicology graduate student and is currently directing productions with the Chicago Opera Theater, including operas by Monteverdi; he will direct a YBOP production in 2009.

Most importantly, students of all kinds are inspired by this rich and complex art form. As they take their places as intellectual, social and artistic leaders in their own fields, they become tomorrow’s opera audiences.

Ellen Rosand

March 7

The writer is the George A. Saden Professor of Music. She is the founder and executive director of YBOP.

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