Opera and Musical Theatre Transforms Singers into Artists
Jose Maria Condemi, Director of the Opera and Musical Theatre program, explains
By Karen Meurer Bacellar
SFCM’s voice students travel from all over the world to study under renowned artistic faculty like César Ulloa, Catherine Cook, and Susanne Mentzer. Alongside training guided by principal teachers and coaches, voice majors are presented opportunities to enter into the worlds of opera and musical theatre. From skill building courses to elaborate, fully staged productions, the Opera and Musical Theatre department is structured to establish foundations and produce versatile performers with the tools and experience to flourish in their careers.
Director Jose Maria Condemi recently answered common questions about the Opera and Musical Theatre program and what makes it so special. Here are a few highlights.
Building a Toolkit
While vocalists must gain fluency in and establish technique to support their instrument, they equally have to focus their attention on bolstering skills like acting, movement, choreography, dance, and performance. The Opera and Musical Theatre program provides a team of unrivaled professionals who give students the tools to become the well-rounded artists all modern singers must be to thrive.
From their first step on campus to their capstone performances, students are treated and instructed as professionals. Dave Maier’s stage combat course illuminates the art of fight choreography and guides novice students to achieve their stage combat certification upon completing the class. Acting and movement courses, taught by Milissa Carey and Brady Lea respectively, lead students to uncover their bias and self imposed limits, embrace different styles of physicality, and push beyond all that binds them. Supplied with a comprehensive toolkit, students’ futures are limitless.
After establishing the foundations, voice students advance in their performance studies by taking courses like Opera Workshop. Students taking this class present arias and receive feedback from coaches, directors, and colleagues. They’re asked to think on the spot and explore different ways of musical, physical, and emotional expression. They learn the art of stage makeup from experienced professionals from SF Opera, opera etiquette from Maestro Curt Pajer, diction and language techniques during individual and collaborative coachings, in addition to training for and collaborating in culminating opera scenes performances with their peers. After taking the course, students have the tools to shine on stage as a musician, vocalist, actor, collaborator, and performer.
Artistry on the Stage
Artistic faculty ensure that the journey of skill building, application, and advancement continues within pre-performance and performance settings. Throughout the year, the department presents four fully staged performances, including the fall chamber opera and spring opera, three black box performances, such as the opera workshop scenes and musical theatre showcase, and a variety of master classes with visiting artists, conductors, and directors. Opera and Musical Theatre programming drives vocalists to achieve professional standards in a pre-professional setting. Reaching those expectations requires equal parts hard work and dedication. The result? Sung performances that truly say something.
The Opera and Musical Theatre department provides voice majors with skill building courses, a comprehensive tool kit, and capstone performances that transform budding vocalists into polished artists who tell engaging and beautifully compelling stories through music.
To learn more about the Opera and Musical Theatre department, watch the Q&A with Director Jose Maria Condemi.