Mount Allison students, faculty, and alumni selected for opera program in Italy
Several Allisonians spent part of their summer in Italy, as participants in the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy’s (COSI) summer program. Five Mount Allison students and recent graduates, along with Music faculty member Dr. Vicki St. Pierre, were selected for the international program.
“I’m thrilled to be part of such an outstanding international faculty,” says St. Pierre, who has been part of the COSI program since 2014, in addition to her Mount Allison position. “This is an exceptional program that produces excellent opera productions and really embraces the teaching and coaching elements necessary to build the professional singers of the very near future.”
Working with St. Pierre, five Mount Allison students and recent graduates — Skylar Cameron, Morgan Reid, Branden Olsen, Michelle Riley, and Sarah Sharpe — spent two weeks in Italy taking part in lessons, master classes, coaching, and rehearsals before their opera productions. Mount Allison alumna Kim Denis, a professional singer, conductor, and voice teacher, also joined the group.
“It’s been an amazing experience to live, work, and create with different singers, teachers, directors, and musicians from across Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and more,” says fourth-year student Morgan Reid. “When you get to meet others in the music and opera community, you make connections for the future, but also gain invaluable colleagues and perspectives from others. We all have information to share with each other through different experiences, all while creating something together.”
Following her final year at Mount Allison, Reid plans to continue with her master’s. She says this opportunity will only help with that plan.
“Programs like these allow me to take a peek at what other programs and other teachers have to offer, polish up pieces that I’ll use for auditions for next year, and learn the ins and outs of what’s to come in the ‘real world,’ ” she says.
St. Pierre, who assisted the students in setting up their COSI auditions via Skype this past semester, says being part of a program like COSI not only helps with performance but also her own teaching.
“Teaching the advanced students who audition successfully for COSI helps me develop more sophisticated teaching tools that I can bring back to my Mount Allison studio,” says St. Pierre. “I also learn from my teaching and coaching colleagues as they give master classes and coach and conduct the operas. There’s always another way to approach a vocal issue and the more ideas, the better!”
The group performed in Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Donizetti’s L’Elisir d'Amore, this summer as part of the COSI program.
Captions: Mount Allison Music students following the performance of Puccini’s Suor Angelica during the 2017 Centre for Opera Studies in Italy program. From left to right: Skylar Cameron (’17), Michelle Riley (’17), Morgan Reid (’18), Sarah, Sharpe (’18).
From left to right: Mount Allison alumna Kim Denis (’03), Skylar Cameron (’17), Michelle Riley (’17), Morgan Reid (’18), Sarah, Sharpe (’18), Branden Olsen (’17), and Mount Allison Dean of Arts Dr. Elizabeth Wells.