Summer program invites opera singers to CSUN to practice

For the past 23 years, Cal State Northridge has been the home for the nationally acclaimed performance program called Opera Works.  Every summer, the top emerging opera artists in the country gather at CSUN for the rigorous program.  Opera Works consists of six hour days including: performance techniques, voice coaching, yoga, movement techniques, and much more.

The founder and executive director of the program, Ann Baltz, has been heralded as one of the leading opera educators in America today.  She is a frequent speaker at national conventions, including the National Opera Association.  Baltz’s professional background includes roles as assistant conductor, coach, and chorus master in more than 40 productions of operas with prestigious companies around the country.

“Opera Works is more than just voice lessons and is a very physical program,” says Baltz.  “We have yoga everyday and movement classes that are very intense.  All of the students learn about conducting and go through coaching lessons.”

Opera Works strives to make education one of its main goals.  However, performances are also a vital part of the program and audiences can hear outstanding singers in a variety of exciting productions designed to offer an alternative to traditional opera performances.

About 30 students each summer are invited to participate in the Opera Works program after hundreds of auditions.  One of the participants this summer, Babatunde Akinboboye, is a vocal major at CSUN.

“Opera Works is not so much just about the voice, but it’s about everything else,” says Akinboboye.  “From this experience, I hope to take with me everything that will make me a great performer besides just my voice.”

During the performance technique class of the program, students are encouraged to sing opera songs in many different styles.  They have what is called “Attitude Cards,” which have written attitudes such as: excited, suspicious, nervous, angry, and much more.  The singers have to constantly change their tone of voice during their practice sessions to match the card that is held up by the instructor.

Opera Works 2009 Emerging Artist Program will culminate in a performance piece incorporating opera, physical theater and movement techniques learned throughout the training program.  This production introduces audiences to a new way of experiencing an opera performance, going outside the box of typical and traditional opera performances.

This year’s performance will take place on Sat. June 20 at 7:00 p.m.  It will take place in the Recital Hall (in Cypress Hall) on the CSUN campus.  Tickets may be purchased at the door or by calling 818-898-9597.