Purchase Opera, a first-rate student troupe, presents “Hansel and Gretel” at Purchase College’s Performing Arts Center Nov. 15-17, just as two alumni have snagged leading roles at The Metropolitan Opera.
Based on the haunting Grimms’ fairytale, with music composed by Engelbert Humperdinck (no, not that one), the fully staged production brings together the well-trained students’ acting and singing skills, with lavish sets and costumes and the Purchase Symphony Orchestra.
“Our approach to this opera is unique—with a dash of absurdity in the witch’s role—designed to appeal to the child in all of us,” says Jacque Trussel, director of the Purchase Opera and head of the Purchase College Conservatory of Music Voice and Opera Studies program . “It’s an ideal introduction to opera for young people and a perennial favorite of seasoned opera fans.”
Performances (in German with English subtitles) are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 and 16 and 2 p.m. Nov. 17. On Nov. 13, 14 and 15, there will be an abbreviated version of the opera in English for schoolchildren from Westchester and Fairfield counties. For more or to order tickets, visit artscenter.org or call (914) 251.6200.
Alumni starring at the Met
From Westchester County to the most exalted opera house in the country—the Purchase Opera is making its mark. In a remarkable tribute to the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College, two alumni of the Voice and Opera Studies program are appearing at The Metropolitan Opera.
Christopher Bolduc, baritone, is singing a lead role in the American debut of the new opera “Two Boys”through Nov. 14. Brian Jagde, tenor, will be appearing at The Met in April in “Arabella.” The Met appearances follow other triumphs on opera stages throughout the world for these and other singers whose performance careers began at Purchase College.
In an interview, Bolduc reflects about his time at Purchase: “I had a wonderful teacher, Jacque Trussel, who opened my eyes in so many ways. He built the foundation of technique, explained how difficult it is even to attain a career, let alone maintain one, and taught the basics of stagecraft, acting and audition technique. He is really an amazing educator and person.”
According to Trussel, who taught both Bolduc and Jagde, “These artists exemplify the type of student we seek at Purchase—those who not only have talent but also the desire and drive to work extremely hard and soak up all that we have to offer.”
The Purchase College Conservatory of Music Voice and Opera Studies program is a highly selective program designed to train and mentor serious students in professional classical singing. The disciplined, integrated curriculum is taught by faculty members who have experience as successful performing artists as well as talent for the art of teaching. Since 1998, the program has been led by Trussel, an American tenor who performed with the foremost opera companies throughout North America and Europe.
“Our philosophy is that ‘perfect practice makes perfect.’ We seek undergraduate students who have talent yet a clean palette, so that we can instill solid technique and develop their artistry from the onset,” says Trussel. “We also recognize that to be a good performer you must perform—so we get our students on stage by the end of freshman year.”
According to Suzanne Farrin, director of the Conservatory of Music, “Our program trains the students to find their voice. They don’t often come in as polished stones, but they leave as real gems—ready to shape the next generation of singing. The Purchase Opera program is also unique because it puts young singers onstage. Students don’t wait in the wings.”
In addition to public performances of opera scenes, art song evenings, solo recitals and choral works, the program presents two operas a year on the main stage of the Performing Arts Center. These productions have been acclaimed for inventiveness and a high level of professional quality, winning eight prestigious National Opera Association – Best Opera of the Year awards.
For more on Purchase College’s musical program, visit purchase.edu. And don’t forget to check out WAG’s November “Voices” issue.