Each year, members of our Vocal Performance Program Center of Excellence have the opportunity to audition for and perform with Project Opera, a program within the Minnesota Opera for young adults interested in being classically trained. Since the beginning of Fall Term, this year’s singers, Hannah Ray ’21, Xiaomei (Alex) Li ’22, and Briggs Williamson ’24 have been travelling to Minneapolis every Saturday for rehearsal with other music students in the area. The opera opened on February 8, and there were five in total.
The opera was called “Belongings,” and it was comprised of a prologue and seven scenes that alternated between 1945 and 2015. Accompanied by their teacher, Helen, a group of English children are forced to evacuate London for the countryside during the Blitz bombing. Meanwhile, in 2015, a group of refugee children re-build their recently demolished shelter.
All of the students had the opportunity to work with Lewis Murphy, the composer of the opera, as well as Laura Kaminsky, whose mother was a World War II evacuee, and Taous Khazem, an Algerian American theater artist who has worked on multiple artistic projects around the theme of refugees and immigration.
The opera emphasized that even though we differ in time period and geography, there are certain fears, hopes, and desires that we all share, such as a love for one’s home, and the wish to keep home safe.
When the tickets went on sale, the five performances of the opera sold out quickly. Our SSM students will travel perform twice more, on Wednesday for an educational performance for local elementary school kids, and on Thursday for their final performance. Both performances will take place at the LAB Theater.
Hannah played Helen, and Alex and Briggs sang in the chorus. The SSM VPP Center of Excellence is delighted to support our young artists through this experience.