Hey everyone! Sunday marked the inaugural performances of OperaComp, a new initiative put on by a handful of Juilliard students and they were fantastic! It was started by 4 Juilliard students: two composers and two vocalists. They thought of the idea back in November, and their idea was to create a project in which composers were given a group of singers and a pianist to write an opera scene for. They sent an email to singers and collaborative pianists asking people to sign up if they were interested. Once they received responses, we were assigned to composers and it went from there! There ended up being 6 compositions, and each of them was a world premiere. There was a ton of variety between the scenes in both style and storyline.
My scene, Hoshi, was written by Sato Matsui with a libretto by Sarah LaBrie. The story follows Hoshi, a young violinist, through her parents’ bitter divorce and her attempts to connect with her estranged father 16 years later. It was a beautiful story about family and identity, and it was amazing to be able to premiere a piece for the first time!
I played Hoshi’s mother, and it was so exciting to be able to create this character without basing it on any previous singer’s choices. It was so different to actually have the composer there at rehearsals; we were able to ask if the scene was coming together the way she wanted it to, and she was able to make sure that we were accurately portraying what she had envisioned. Being in the classical music world, it’s very rare to have that opportunity. I can’t ask Mozart about his vision for Dorabella in Cosi; all I have are the music and some stage directions here and there. We were able to know that what we were creating was 100% true to the story that Sato wanted to tell. We had two performances of it on Sunday. The scene ended up being spectacular and touching and it was very well-received. OperaComp was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and I hope it has a lasting legacy here at Juilliard!