After Katie Dubbs ’14 took “Music 214: Projects in Vocal Performance Opera” last fall, she wanted to provide more opportunities for Princeton’s talented classical singers to perform. So last winter she and Maddy Bernstein ’12 co-founded the Princeton Opera Company, a student-run organization that aims to produce concerts and full operas.
On Sept. 27, the Opera Company held its first master class with countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo ’04, who took a break from preparing for his December debut at the Metropolitan Opera to pass on tips to a crop of singers: sopranos Lydia Lim ’15, Katherine Buzard ’14, and Tara Ohrtman ’13; tenor Matt Prast ’12; countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen ’15; and Dubbs, a mezzo-soprano.
After each student sang an aria from a work by Handel, Bach, Benjamin Britten, Johann Strauss, or Georges Bizet, Costanzo offered advice, breaking the pieces into sections and suggesting ways to shape vowels, add consonants “like pearls on a string,” and use rests to express emotion. It was a special treat for Cohen to learn from Costanzo because they both are countertenors, a relatively rare voice type. “There are some things that countertenors understand about the voice type that no one else can,” said Cohen.
“The most important part of this class was less about the vocal instruction and actual performance experience,” said Dubbs. “The point of this was to give hope to the singers ... that [a career in music] is possible. It’s very hard, but it’s a dream worth following.”