Music students are taking their opera workshop on the road

03 Nov 2023
Show aims to make opera music more accessible for diverse audiences

Mount Allison students in Music professor Christina Haldane’s Opera Workshop course are hitting the road this November in partnership with Music Royale (NS), Under the Spire (PE), and the Halifax Central Library (NS) looking to bring opera music to new audiences.

“I thought this would be a really unique opportunity for us to give the students this wonderful performance opportunity, but also allow them to build meaningful partnerships and work connections with music festivals and producers of music in the Atlantic region,” says Haldane.

The family-friendly show was developed as an introduction to opera music in the hopes of making opera more accessible for all.

“There are many things about opera that can feel like a barrier,” says Haldane. “Sometimes it’s sung in a language we don’t understand, or people might feel that the music or themes are not for them. We’ve approached this in a way that we hope everyone can find something to relate to. It’s a fast-paced show and families are invited to come enjoy what it’s like to experience opera for the first time.”

Haldane secured funding from Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL) to support students in their community engagement and hands-on learning experience, both on and off the stage. The class of 16 students collaboratively managed branding, communication, promotion, and costume design, all while rehearsing and performing the show. One student is also serving as a stage manager under the mentorship of professional tour manager Jim Tranquilla of the Tutta Musica Orchestra. Next term, students will further develop their skills, exploring the logistics of tour planning and grant writing.

“Finding the right funding avenues to bring these projects to life is an essential part of our work as artists, so it’s important they develop that skill as well,” says Haldane.

The students are also working with Music professor Kiera Galway to develop educational materials about opera, which they will share with their partner institutions.

Haldane hopes these experiences will open students’ eyes to different opportunities within the field of music and performing arts, offering them a chance to discover new passions.

“I hope it’s an opportunity for them to discover different things, maybe something they’re passionate about, and that it will help them develop career pathways in a fun and positive way. And certainly, to create meaningful contacts with arts administration leaders in the region, which is so beneficial in terms of mentorship.”

Having built a global career as an opera performer, Haldane recognizes the value of providing students with diverse skills.

“My own journey has been varied,” says Haldane. “It certainly began with a highly focused performance career, which was very exciting and led me to perform all over the world. But along the way, I was able to discover other opportunities for creativity and entrepreneurship.”

Ultimately, her goal is to instill confidence in her students and prepare them for success after graduation.

“I want them to know that the minute they step out of university, there’s something they can do. It’s about understanding the breadth of options available and being willing to explore various roles.”

Performances will be held in Lunenburg, NS on Nov. 4, in Kensington, PE on Nov. 5, and in Halifax, NS on Nov. 12. The class will also be performing on campus in February as part of the Music department’s programming, and have a special show planned for local schools in March. Participating schools will receive educational resources developed by the students to enhance their classroom experience. For more information, contact Margaret Craig, Department of Music administrative assistant: mcraig@mta.ca

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