Singing opera in Russian

Ghenady Meirson at the piano, coaches singers Ryan Hill and Dominick Chenes. noth resident artists at the Academy of Vocal Arts.  Credit: Rachel Carter
Ghenady Meirson, at the piano, coaches Russian Opera Workshop participants Ryan Hill and Dominick Chenes, an Academy of Vocal Arts resident artist.
Credit: Rachel Carter

 

Even if they’re not conversant in the languages, most English-speaking opera singers know a smattering of Italian or German, enough at least to read and learn their parts. That’s often not the case with Russian, which places a seemingly insurmountable barrier between aspiring vocalists and the country’s rich operatic heritage. That’s where Ghenady Meirson comes in.

“I’ve worked with many singers over the years,” Meirson says. “People know to come to me in Philadelphia for coaching in the Russian repertory.”

In recent years Meirson, who spends most of the year on the faculty of the Academy of Vocal Arts and the Curtis Institute of Music, has expanded that coaching role into a summer-long workshop. The Russian Opera Workshop is the only vocal workshop in the United States devoted exclusively to the Russian repertoire, and has drawn students from across the country as well as from Canada and Mexico. “I’ve even had applications from Russia,” he says.

Designed for students with a range of experience from undergraduates to professionals, the program provides a month-long immersion in language learning, vocal training and Russian music, culminating in a free concert performance of a Russian opera. For its third season, the workshop is presenting Sergey Rachmaninoff’s “Francesca da Rimini,” which premiered in Moscow in 1906 but has never been performed in Philadelphia.

The biggest challenge for students, Meirson says, is becoming comfortable with the Russian tongue. “The language itself is a barrier block for many people. I’m in business because I unlock that a little bit for people. Ultimately it’s about making music, and the language has its own idiosyncrasies. If somebody doesn’t have the experience with it, it may be tough.”

The program, which after just two full seasons has seen alumni hired by five opera companies for the roles learned in the workshop, boasts instructors from some of the city’s most prestigious music schools teaching not only Russian music but the realities of the opera world. “The faculty is top shelf,” Meirson says. “So whether they like it or not, students get a feel for what it’s like out there. They’re hearing what they need to fix, what they need to work on, what the industry wants, and what they should do to succeed. It’s invaluable experience.

‘Francesca Da Rimini’
June 24-27
Helen Corning Warden Theater, the Academy of Vocal Arts
1920 Spruce St.
Free, 267-475-6500
www.russianoperaworkshop.com


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.