Marisol Carty, Contributing Photographer
On April 19, students in Yale School of Music’s opera program showcased a series of recorded performances of pieces by composers such as Georges Bizet, G. F. Handel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Richard Strauss.
The pre-recorded performances, compiled and presented as a larger opera showcase, consisted of eight duets and one solo performance. This showcase is the second of three performances by Yale Opera students this year. Last fall, the group held an aria showcase, and they will perform semi-staged opera scenes as their final performance in May.
“I performed in Yale Opera’s Fall Opera Scenes in 2019, and I can honestly say I approached these showcases in much of the same way that I have approached live performances,” Ryan Capozzo MUS ’21 said. “It has been a bit of an adjustment to perform with a mask, and I am so thrilled by the performances given by my colleagues this past weekend. Even though I couldn’t see their entire faces, everyone was able to connect with their pieces and express the fantastic stories that excite us, and motivate us to get dressed up and head to the opera house.”
This semester, the opera program’s 14 students have participated in a mix of hybrid and in-person lessons. For their two weekly voice coaching sessions, they are allowed to use the Glee Club room or rooms in Hendrie Hall that are wired to avoid latency in video calls between singers and their coaches. Students also attend weekly Zoom seminars.
For this performance, which took place in Sprague Hall, each student played a role that Moore selected for them according to their individual performance styles. Jonghyun Park MUS ’21 said Moore asked students about their “dream roles” in order to choose their performance pieces.
Each pair of students was given an hour in Sprague Hall to record their performance. Julia Orosz MUS ’21 said that since her duet was nine minutes long, she and duet partner Martina Myskohlid MUS ’21 only had three to four tries to record their piece.
“Since we recorded [each try] in one take from beginning to end, I felt the same tension and excitement that I feel in live performances,” Park said.
Magdalena Kuzma MUS ’22 said that having recorded performances of themselves is a way to “kill two birds with one stone.” By completing a performance for the showcase, students now possess high-quality video recordings they can submit for auditions or competitions, Kuzma said.
Myskohlid said she enjoyed creating the video performance, since students were required to focus on technique, diction and expression to a higher degree. She explained that these elements can be viewed in greater detail because the audience view is a lot closer than in an in-person setting.
Still, Jonas Jud MUS ’22 noted that performing during the pandemic has posed unique challenges — specifically due to singing and acting while wearing a mask. Jud said that masks can cut off harmonies in the overtones that singers produce but added that the School of Music provides singers with specially structured masks that facilitate their breathing.
Jud and Kuzma also explained that singers could neither move far from designated stage spots while acting nor remove masks to show facial expressions while performing.
Kuzma said she was performing a scene in which her character receives a rose, and consequently sings about smelling the flower. Yet she had to evoke this scene entirely through hand gestures.
“We all tried to do as much as possible to make it look natural, and we had to do a lot more with eye expression than ever before,” Kuzma said.
All the students expressed gratitude for the opportunities they have received in a difficult semester, citing the opportunity to work with renowned musicians and guests such as presidential visiting fellow Howard Watkin.
“Any opportunity to put art out there is a good opportunity,” Orsz said. “Being able to work with the faculty we have and being able to perform in any capacity is a blessing nowadays.”
Yale Opera’s next performance is planned to take place in May.
Marisol Carty | email@example.com