Opera lovers are known for their passion for the art form, so when the Metropolitan Opera had to cancel its season last spring because of the pandemic, the plaintive wail from audiophiles rivaled the most ardent aria.
Guild Hall, which has been streaming “The Met: Live in HD” for over a decade, felt the loss as well, but thanks to a dedicated base of the organization’s opera donors, was able to continue on with shows that had been previously recorded.
To thank that base of opera fans, Guild Hall has teamed up with Bel Canto Boot Camp (BCBC) for two presentations — the first is a one-night-only session, and the second a series of four workshops, based on the history, lexicology and love of opera.
“Our opera donors remained loyal to us at a vulnerable time, and this program is our way of thanking them for their passion and support,” said Kristin Eberstadt, director of philanthropy for Guild Hall.
But even if you don’t know your continuo from your coloratura, there is Bel Canto 101. This special introductory session, created especially for Guild Hall, empowers listeners with historically based and skill-focused instruction, and inspires singers and opera lovers alike to refine skills through guided listening, learn about the human voice and operatic art through reading, and to share in a community centered on the power and beauty of the human voice.
Rachelle Jonck and Derrick Goff, the New York City vocal coaches who founded BCBC, have crafted an introduction to explain some of the specialized “geeky” aspects and terminology used in Bel Canto’s approach, and will be joined by Steven Tharp, former Metropolitan Opera tenor and professor of voice at the University of Missouri. The session will be held on Thursday, February 4, at 6 p.m. The group will learn together what to listen for in historical recordings where the technology needs ears and minds to “fill in” what might not be there. Registration is $35 (free for Guild Hall’s opera donors).
BCBC’s Audiophile Society workshop begins Sunday, February 7, at 3 p.m. and runs on Sundays through the month. Those who attend will join Tharp, Jonck and Goff for a series of Zoom listening salons. With a participating audience of both opera lovers and professionals, they will learn more about what to listen for, discussing opera history, the bel canto technique, and more.
Topics expected to be touched upon in the workshop are: February 7, “All Together Now,” duets, ensembles, finales; February 14, “In Praise of Love,” a Valentine’s Day tribute to opera’s favorite subject; February 21, “Bel Canto Pop,” classic vocal virtues in 20th and 21st century vernacular song; and February 28, “Favorites & Requests,” selections chosen by the Audiophile Society. Registration is $35 per session or $140 for the full series ($105 for Guild Hall members, free for opera donors).
Rachelle Jonck is a South Africa-born coach, pianist and conductor based in New York City. She is the principal coach of Teatro Nuovo and teaches at Westminster Choir College. Derrick Goff is an alumnus of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and will return to the MET music staff as an assistant chorusmaster next season.
For more information about this and other programs, visit guildhall.org.