Opera Young Artists Return to Favorites for Afternoon of Song

  • Antona Yost

In the midst of the theatrics and glamour of onstage performances, the Chautauqua Opera Company Young Artists work to hold on to what matters most in their profession — the music.

In the first Afternoon of Song Recital at 4:15 p.m. today, June 27, in the Athenaeum Hotel Parlor, three Young Artists will perform some of their favorite selections. They aim to completely focus on sharing the power of music with audience members.

“I love the recital work,” said soprano Antona Yost. “In recitals, it’s the singer, the pianist and the audience, so it is a really intimate experience.”

The recital is not only a chance for the Young Artists to learn new things, but for the audience to relax and connect with the music. There’s no stage, so the audience is right next to the singers. Allison Voth, Chautauqua Opera accompanist and vocal coach, said it’s all about the emotions that the audience will experience in the recital’s intimate setting.

“It’s about the healing power of music — it’s the bond of music to the soul,” Voth said. “It’s just the music and no other distractions.”

Tenor Brian Jeffers, mezzo-soprano Yost and soprano Lindsey Chinn will be accompanied by Voth on piano as they perform six songs individually and two songs all together. Jeffers will perform a world-premiere piece called “Leavings” by Chautauqua Opera’s Composer-in-Residence Gilda Lyons and by Chautauqua Writers’ Center Poet-in-Residence Martha Collins.

The songs are a blend of French, German and English selections, featuring several female composers as well. Chautauqua Young Artists are excited to dive into music from their favorite operas and favorite composers.

Jeffers is looking forward to performing old pieces, as well as working with Lyons. He said even after completing his master’s degree, he still finds new details in songs he has performed before.

“It’s nice to dig out some of the stuff you do in your undergrad,” Jeffers said. “You do the best that you can at that point, but now we are older so it’s almost like performing it for the first time.”

Opera singers don’t often get the chance to work directly with a piece’s composer. Jeffers said it’s exciting to work directly with Lyons for the world premiere of “Leavings” because receiving feedback from the composer is extremely helpful.

“It’s a very unique process to be able to just ask the person that wrote it, because especially with the things that we do, rarely are you able to do that,” Jeffers said.

Yost, who just graduated with her master’s degree in voice performance from the University of Michigan, will perform some selections by 19th century composer Clara Schumann.

“I’m really excited to sing three Clara Schumann songs,” Yost said. “I absolutely love her and think her stuff should be done more often.”

Chinn, who just graduated from the Mannes School of Music with her master’s in vocal performance, is excited to revisit some old songs as an opportunity to discover new details.

“The songs I’m singing are kind of a combination of things I did for my senior recital and for my graduate recital,” Chinn said. “I’ve kind of kept them with me since my recitals, but I’m glad to be doing them more.”

The Young Artists hope that audiences continue to fall in love with opera, especially in a recital’s intimate setting.

“It’s an art form that requires — whether it’s in an opera or recital — just sitting,” Yost said. “It requires absorbing and putting aside all the hustle and bustle.”
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The author Tina Giuliano

Tina Giuliano is a rising junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix, where she studies broadcast journalism and Spanish. She serves as the multimedia managing editor at her school’s paper, The State Press. She is excited to begin covering opera for the Daily. When she’s not diving into her journalism career, she’s probably rewatching “The Office,” at a soccer game or figuring out which flavor of ice cream to eat.