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
National

Sister of accused Boston Marathon bombers arrested for…

The sister of the accused Boston Marathon bombers was arrested in New York City for threatening a woman over the phone, saying she could "put a bomb on you," police…

Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Labor Day in NYC: Make the last weekend…

Soon, it’ll be time for wool accessories and knee-high boots. Even the Pumpkin Spice Latte has already arrived — but we still have one last…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…