After a presentation on the structure and technique of opera performances, IUP Cook Honors College freshmen attended the premiere of Verdi’s La Traviata at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh on October 15, 2011. For some students, this was the first opportunity they had to attend an opera.
“I thought the opera was a fantastic cultural experience, since I had never been to one,” said freshman Hannah Frishberg. “I definitely enjoyed it.”
Some were unsure if they would enjoy the performance, but were pleasantly surprised once they immersed themselves in the story. Freshman Christkelly Dornevil enjoyed “the outfits and their voices,” although she found that she “didn’t get that into it until the third scene.”
Since many first-time attendees have to adjust to some aspects of the opera, Dr. Matthew Baumer, an IUP Music professor who teaches fine arts for Junior Core, gave a lecture on the plot and structure of opera performances the day before the students attended La Traviata.
Frishberg found the lecture “very helpful plot-wise” because she was able to understand the story and she “didn’t have to read the supertitles so much, so I got a more fulfilling experience.”
She also learned a lot about the technicalities of operatic singing, and found that aspect of Baumer’s lecture “enlightening.”
Although it is not a requirement for upperclassmen to attend the opera, several sophomores and juniors returned to the Benedum Center for their second or third times.
“[La Traviata] was my third opera with the HC, and this one was probably my favorite,” said junior Sybil Watson. She enjoyed the “combination of the story and the music” and thought “the characters were more relatable.”
by Emily Weber