Opera training program includes a series of free master classes and performances

2013 master class with Pierre Vallet and student Liesl McPherrin

The Westminster CoOPERAtive Program, a three-week intensive operatic training program, begins on Sunday, June 29 and will continue through Saturday, July 19. Throughout the three weeks, emerging artists will perform in many recitals, concerts and master classes that will be open to the public, free of charge. The program, in its ninth year, attracts talented singers and accompanists from around the world. Area opera lovers are invited to attend these events and watch these talented singers perform as they take the next step in their operatic careers.

The program will include Operatic Aria Concerts, featuring arias from familiar and not-so-well-known operas, on Wednesday, July 2; Sunday, July 6; Wednesday, July 9; Friday, July 11 and Wednesday, July 16 at 7:30 p.m., as well as Saturday, July 19 at 2 p.m. in Bristol Chapel on the campus of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J.

Students will also perform in intimate Art Song Recitals on Saturday, July 5; Saturday, July 12; and Thursday, July 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Bristol Chapel.

The CoOPERAtive Program brings to Princeton some of the most influential leaders in the operatic field today. Students will have the opportunity to perform in master classes with renowned conductor Pierre Vallet on Thursday, July 3 at 7:30 p.m.; recitalist, conductor and coach Eric Weimer on Monday, July 7 at 7:30 p.m., and Susan Ashbaker, master coach and artistic advisor to the CoOPERAtive Program, on Monday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m. All master classes will be held in the Princeton Regional Schools Performing Arts Center in Princeton High School.

In addition, Philadelphia-based Lyric Fest will join CoOPERAtive to present a concert titled “Dear March—Come In—American Women Poets” on Tuesday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Bristol Chapel. Singers Kelly Ann Bixby, soprano; Jeffrey Halili, tenor; Randall Scarlata, baritone; and Elizabeth Shammash, mezzo-soprano; will join Suzanne DuPlantis, mezzo-soprano; and Laura Ward, pianist, to premiere newly commissioned settings by Benjamin C.S. Boyle, Douglas Cuomo, Michael Djupstrom, Daron Hagen, James Primosch and Maurice Wright, as well as familiar settings and little known art songs. Narrator Michelle Eugene will read selections of poetry to round out this special program. Lyric Fest’s focuses on bringing people together through the shared experience of song by offering lively, theme-oriented voice recitals designed to edify, educate, stimulate dialogue, and foster community.

Students enrolled in the CoOPERAtive Program receive private coaching, focusing on operatic style, performance techniques, dramatic presentation, language and diction and body awareness, as well as resumé and application advice. Directed by Westminster voice faculty members Laura Brooks Rice and Christopher Arneson, the program is presented in cooperation and consultation with professionals in the field of opera. It is designed to help young singers and pianists prepare for the essential next step toward acceptance into an advanced young artist or summer apprentice program. Graduates of this program have been finalists in the Metropolitan Opera Council’s National Auditions and have gone on to work with opera companies throughout the United States.

The CoOPERAtive Program offers three tracks based on participants’ experience and area of interest. The CoOPERAtive Fellows track is for graduate students to post-graduate young professionals, which features customized schedules created to suit each singer’s particular needs as he or she prepares for future auditions and competitions. The CoOPERAtive Young Artists track is for undergraduate voice majors in their junior or senior year. In addition to coaching and the performance of operatic arias, coaching and performance of art song is a major part of the Young Artist experience. The CoOPERAtive Pianist Interns track is for pianists interested in explor­ing the many facets of operatic accompanying and coaching.