Spring semester and Santa Monica College's 75th Anniversary are in full swing, along with SMC's opera season. With movies shown, awards given and performances presented, the future promises more as the celebration continues.
May 14 and 15, the SMC Foundation and SMC Opera Theatre will bring you a night of music and stage with students and alumni performing Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress," accompanied by Galina Barskaya and Hung-Gi Cindi Hsu.
The show will include a lecture presented by SMC Professor Donald Richardson discussing the two shows.
Sue Anne Pinner, the artistic director and SMC music professor, is also the founder of Opera Theatre. She plans the show as a "repertoire," two groups switching the lead and the chorus between operas, with both alumni and students singing throughout the entire 75th Anniversary event.
The repertoire is a style she learned from her mentor-professor, the late Walter Ducloux, former USC music professor.
"They're doing the 'Rake's Progress,' the alumni on the verge of their major international careers," Pinner said. "And the younger SMC students that are up-and-coming, they will be in 'Don Giovanni.'"
The former SMC student's spotlighting "The Rakes Progress" include Verdi Baritone Adam Meza, who studies with the prestigious San Francisco Conservatory and plays Nick Shadow; Lyric Tenor Gabriel Silva, who is studying opera at the University of Southern California and playing Tom; Soprano Terrie Barna, a professional singer and actor playing Anne; and another Soprano Linda Jackson, who is a current undergraduate at UCLA as Baba the Turk.
"I started opera at SMC, Sue Anne is a great teacher, she prepares people to move on to more challenging things," said Meza.
Silva has an 8 p.m. performance Wednesday, May 11, at the United Methodist Church with Beth Oertel playing the piano. He is performing both a benefit and finishing his master's degree at USC.
"It feels great to be able to come back to basically my roots and be able to participate and help the cause," said Silva. "Opera is very expensive like any program and it feels good to donate your time."
Also, Pinner now has two CDs out, "Adoremus," featuring the Santa Barbara Regional Choir, and her solo CD, "Ave Maria." Her CD "Adoremus" spent time on the bestseller's list of the United Catholic Music and Video Association in 2004 and won Sacramental Album of the Year.
As awards and scholarships go...
Rodell Aure Rosel, SMC alumnus, took top honors in the 2005 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions grand finals concert for the western region. In 1999, while a SMC student, he won 3rd in the "Artists of the Future" 51st annual opera competition and now has been offered a position with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
With Jackson and Silva graduating this spring, Meza is on scholarship at the S.F. Conservatory, while Silva has been on scholarship with a teaching assistantship at USC.
Pinner remarked that for opera, he is the first SMC student in 20 years who has attended USC.
"Also, the younger singers that are working the show, 'Don Giovanni,' know that I was there at one point starting off," said Silva. "So it can be done, if you have a passion for it and I am very thankful for this program."
Silva recently toured Europe in 2004, falling into a category with the other alumni working the show of those "on the verge of international careers."
After he graduates he plans on visiting Europe, trying out for opera houses in Germany, one of the stops on his previous tour that also included Croatia and Italy.