Tag Archives: Thomas Lehman

Opera Guild presents awards to Young Artists

In an event following the Chautauqua Opera Company’s pops concert on Aug. 4, the Chautauqua Opera Guild awarded 11 monetary prizes to members of the Young Artists Program.

Through several fundraisers held earlier this season, including the July 22 and Aug. 2 galas, the Opera Guild was able to disperse merit-based awards totaling $16,000.

As young professionals, recipients of the awards are often responsible for the price of lessons, coaching and any acting or movement classes they wish to take to further their craft. When musicians graduate from academic programs, the costs of keeping up their professional development can be overwhelming. The guild’s Young Artists Awards help with those expenses.

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Chautauqua Opera Young Artists take talents to Heritage Green

For decades, opera singers have been stereotyped as bossy, self-involved and demanding. Any number of encounters with Chautauqua Opera Company’s Young Artists would disprove that negative image, but one afternoon stands out as a myth-buster for Chautauqua Opera Guild President Barbara Turbessi.

When Turbessi arrived at Heritage Green Health Care Center to visit her husband on July 29, she found soprano Mandy Brown — her “adopted opera daughter” — and three colleagues preparing to give a recital to a group of the facility’s residents.

After presenting an afternoon art song recital with tenor Adam Bonanni, baritone Thomas Lehman and pianist Allison Voth during Week Four, Brown decided to take the already-prepared music to Heritage Green. They sang selections from Tchaikovsky, Barber, Debussy, Respighi, Rossini and Gilbert and Sullivan.

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Young Artists take on vernacular challenge

Intuition may tell you that English is the easiest language for English-speaking singers to perform. Without the work of translation, unfamiliar diction and communicating in a language most of the audience does not understand, it is reasonable to assume singing in English makes for an easier job.

But any relief provided by performing English songs — rather than Spanish or Italian — dissolves with the additional responsibilities inherent in singing in the vernacular.

“English is the easiest to memorize, but it’s the hardest to perfect because it’s the language that everyone else can understand,” said baritone Thomas Lehman, one of three Chautauqua Opera Company Studio Artists performing today. “And the common problem with all singers is that we take English for granted. If you don’t have true meaning behind every word that you say, nobody understands what you’re saying, even though it’s in English.”

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