Opera Gala showcases voices, talents of CMU students

Paige Calamari/Staff Photographer Saint Joseph senior Beth Gazella, left, and Waterford senior Prea Saunders, right, pose while Grosse Ile junior Lara Semetko take their photo backstage Saturday night during An Opera Gala at the Staples Family Concert Hall.

Booming voices and musical accompaniment combined with operatic storytelling in Staples Family Concert Hall Saturday night.

About 150 audience members looked on in awe at the Opera Gala as students showed off their diva dramatics.

Michael Fragale was one of the many enthusiastic students to perform in opera gala. The East Lansing sophomore said he was honored to have the chance of performing.

“This is my second year out there and it was great,” Fragale said. “It takes many, many days of preparation. I have been singing my entire high school career and I get to sing for my friends and family.”

The gala took a lot of work to be showcased at the concert hall which holds different kinds of musical events each year, said Dan Koefoed, performance hall manager.

“We typically do what we can to help the performers to put on their best work,” Koefoed said. “This is different as opposed to a larger concert or performance. We do our best to make the performers as comfortable as possible.”


Harrison sophomore Maika Van Oosterhout performs "Stizzoso, mio stizzoso" from La Serva Padrona Saturday night during An Opera Gala at the Staples Family Concert Hall. The gala included various voice students performing opera and music theatre. (Paige Calamari/Staff Photographer)

The first half of the two-hour show was an opera ensemble that featured popular works from composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Wagner and Giacomo Puccini.

The second half of the gala featured students from the musical theatre program. The classic songs performed included “Maria” from “West Side Story,” “So in Love” from “Kiss Me, Kate,” and “Home” from Beauty and the Beast.

Eric Tucker, an associate professor of music, was one of several faculty involved in putting together the ensemble.

“An opera occurs once a year in the spring semester,” Tucker said. “An opera itself takes about three months of preparation.”

Some of students have performed opera on stage for most of their college careers, even after finishing their undergraduate studies.

“I have been singing all of my life,” said Jayme Orvosh, a Bay City graduate student. “You have to practice a lot to become the character. It’s all about the audience and their emotions. It makes it special when it brings an emotion out of the audience.”


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