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

New Yorkers are nation's unhappiest residents: Study

New Yorkers aren't a happy bunch, at least to a new study released by a nonprofit economic research group.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

Movies

From 'La Femme Nikita' to 'Lucy,' a list…

French filmmaker Luc Besson has created a cottage industry of junk cinema. Here are his many unique action heroes, including Liam Neeson and "Lucy"'s Lucy.

Movies

Review: 'Lucy,' with Scarlett Johansson, is smart, stupid…

Luc Besson's "Lucy," in which Scarlett Johansson gains increased control over her brain, is a film about smart and stupid but always enjoyable.

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 7,…

Drunk girls and ghost brownies: here’s your weekly ‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap by way of Q&A. Q: do they really not check for feet under…

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.