Saturday, June 21, 2014

Scandals and Schemes! Opera Highlights Concert Today at 3:00 pm

Lang Hall, Hunter College
Enter East 69th Street

Today at 3:00 pm we will host our annual Highlights Concert featuring some of our very talented young artists.  Join us for a glorious afternonoon of arias, duets and ensembles from our upcoming operas, Verdi's La Traviata and Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. 

The concert is a preview with piano for the upcoming fully staged productions showing July 10-13 at Hunter College. 

Maestro Willie Anthony Waters
Maestro Nicholas Fox
Noby Ishida, Piano
Ed Bak, Piano

For more information call: (212) 315-9190 or go to

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ira Siff Masterclass TONIGHT at 6:00 pm EST

Brecher Hall, Hunter College
Enter E. 69th St. btwn Park & Lex | Livestream URL

Join us this evening at 6:00 pm EST for our fifth masterclass this season with Ira Siff.  Mr. Siff has established himself as a knowledgeable authority in opera as a lecturer, featured journalist for Opera News magazine, commentator on Metropolitan Opera broadcasting, vocal coach, director, master teacher, and much more.  We look forward to hearing his insights this evening!

Tonight's masterclass will be held in Brecher Hall in the 5th floor of Hunter College.  Please enter from East 69th.  If you're not able to join in person you can watch the event in realtime here.

To read more about Mr. Siff click here for his website.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Richard Leech Masterclass Today at 2:00 pm

Today, June 14 from 2:00 - 5:00 pm, the extraordinary Tenor, Richard Leech will work with our Prelude to Performance singers.  This wonderful masterclass will be held in Brecher Hall on the 5th Floor of Hunter College.  Please enter throughout the East 69th Street entrance.  (There is no access to the event from E. 68th.)
Richard Leech

Note that there is no live streaming this time, so be sure to come in person!  The event is free of charge and open to the public.

For more details about Richard Leech, click here.

Stay up to date on all Prelude to Performance masterclasses and events at

Friday, June 13, 2014

On Conducting: With Maestro Daniel Lipton

By: Alicia Waller

I must confess that I’ve been sneaking into rehearsals of Verdi’s La Traviata.  How could I not?  The music is positively sumptuous and the show’s cast is well up to the challenge.  Their singing has radiated through the halls on the fifth floor of Hunter College, and it’s delightful.

Wanting to hear more about the rehearsal process, earlier this week I sat down with the other of our two conductors this season, Maestro Daniel Lipton, who will take the helm for the opera this year.  As usual, I’d like to share a bit of our conversation with you.

How are things going in rehearsal?
I think we’re covering a lot of ground and getting to the crux of what singing in opera means – what all get’s involved in it and all of the various and sundry details one must go through.  The things that one must think about before one even starts to sing.  I think the program is doing a lot of good for the young singers.
Maestro Daniel Lipton

How long have you been with Prelude?
This is my first year.  But, I’ve known Martina for a long time.  We worked for six years together in South America.

What were you working on together?

Yes.  I started an opera company in Bogotá, Colombia.  We were like the Metropolitan Opera in South America. 

Is this your first time working in a Young Artist Program – working with young singers in this way?

Is there anything in particular that you look for [when conducting]?  And, before coming here was there anything specific you wanted to hear from the young singers?
No, I had absolutely no preconceived notions.  I left my mind completely open.  Which is a much better way to receive things.  You have no decision to go in a specific direction – you just go with the flow.  I must say that many of the singers are at a very high level and standard.  I’m very pleased at the way my conducting is helping to mold what they are doing with the music.  It’s very satisfying to have this rapport with the singers that are adept at following [a conductor] and capturing what I’m trying to show with my facial gestures and emotions.  When that happens, it’s great because you know you’re transmitting a [flowing] of music to an artist.  That’s what a conductor tries to do.

Would you say you have a conducting style, or is it that you try to stay open?
That’s one way to put it.  I don’t know my style because I don’t watch myself conduct.  I avoid watching videos of me or hearing audios of my conducting.  There are a lot DVD’s out there which I’ve never seen – a lot of CD’s that I’ve never heard.  I have a tendency to avoid them.  I could perhaps learn from them, but on the other hand I don’t want to be influenced by what I see and here.  I may throw down the baton!  [Laughing] No, I don’t have tantrums as a rule.

My philosophy is that every performance is unique.  Every performance is my first and last.  So, I give it my all each time because in the audience there might be someone who has never heard an opera in their life.  I try to arrive very early and am usually the last to leave.  [The podium] is my home.  That’s what I’m about.

Going back to young singers.  Is there any difference between how you work with the young singers here versus seasoned professionals?
You don’t have to explain so much with seasoned professionals.  You don’t nitpick as much because if I keep harping on rhythm and accents – a seasoned performer might not take that so well.  But, that also depends on the performer.  I find the greater the performer; the easier it is to work with them. 

How do you prepare for your work?
I just try to learn the music as well as possible.

Do you have a favorite composer?
The one I’m conducting.  And each time, if it’s a different composer, then they are my favorite.  When I conduct Mozart, he is my favorite.  When I conduct Verdi, he is my favorite.  When I conduct Puccini, he is my favorite.  I’m sort of a Don Giovanni with my music – each one is my favorite!

Yesterday when I sat through your rehearsal Violetta (Cecilia Lopez) started to tear through her Act II scene with Germont (Robert Kerr).  Emotionally, I wanted to ask you, how are you guys getting through this each day?  Do you find it emotionally taxing?
When you’re in it, you just bathe in it.  You don’t think how many times you’ve done it – how many times you’ve repeated this phrase.  The emotion is rekindled each time as though you’ve never done it before.  Then goose pimples pop up when you’re doing the right thing.

Finally, young singer to seasoned conductor, do you have any recommendation that you would like impart to young singers that are looking ahead at a career like this that is quite a steep pyramid to climb?
Well, what I insist is that singers approach a score for the first time without hearing any other interpretation before they make it their own.  Then, they should work on rhythm, libretto and text before they even start the music.  When that comes secure, then they can add the horizon on top of it.

Thank you so much!
You’re very welcome.

Thanks again for reading.  To read more about Maestro Lipton click here for his website.  You can also follow us at @martinazprelude for up to date information on our rehearsal process, performances and masterclasses.  And, feel free to tweet me with your questions @aliciaenvivo.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

George Shirley Masterclass TODAY

Wednesday, June 11 at 6:00 pm EST
Brecher Hall, Hunter College
Enter E. 69th St. btwn Park & Lex | Livestream URL

Please join us for our second Masterclass this season with Tenor, Dr. George Shirley.  The masterclass will take place in Brecher Hall at Hunter College from 6:00-9:00 pm EST.  You may enter the building from the East 69th Street entrance between Park and Lexington Avenues.

If you are unable to join in person, join us online with our livestream URL here.

We are so thrilled to have Dr. Shirley with us this evening.  His legendary performing career has spanned decades and taken him all over the world.  Additionally, he is an equally gifted and seasoned educator.  We look forward to hearing his wisdom on the vocal arts this evening.

To read more about our guest master teacher, please click here.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Diana Soviero Masterclass

Soprano, Diana Soviero, who has been proclaimed as one of the world's greatest singing actresses, will open the Martina Arroyo Foundation's Prelude to Performance Master Series, Saturday June 7th from 2-5p.m. at Lang Recital Hall, Hunter College. (Enter E. 69th st. between Park and Lexington Ave.) The event is  free and open to the public.

For those who cannot attend the wonderful Diana Soviero masterclass in person, you can watch the live stream at:

For those attending, it is in Lang Recital Hall, Hunter College.

Diana Soviero Masterclass Livestream

Saturday, June 7 at 2:00 pm

For those who cannot make the wonderful Diana Soviero masterclas in person, Saturday, June 7 from 2:00 - 5:00 pm EST, you can view the event in realtime online here.

For those attending in person, please note that the masterclass is now located in Lang Recital Hall on the 4th floor of Hunter College.  Enter the building at East 69th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues.

See you there!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tips on Bel Canto

By: Alicia Waller
Gioacchino Rossini
I’ve always thought the operatic voice was the pinnacle of singing.  Of course, I’m prone to think that as a young student of voice and opera studies.  Nevertheless, the voice’s capacity for endless expression is undeniable.  It is like a fingerprint.  Though two voices may be similar, they will never be exactly the same.  We singers are products of nature and nurture.  We are products of our generation, where we’ve grown up, how we’ve grown up, our early musical influences and of course the natural instrument.  There are countless other factors that inspire our individual sounds as well; one of the most important being the years of carefully cultivated learning that this style of singing requires.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Gioacchino Rossini stands amongst an elite few operas as a definitive representation of the Bel Canto art form and period.  As such, rehearsals for this opera under the baton of Maestro Willie Anthony Waters have been incredibly informative, and have reminded me of some of the things that make Bel Canto singing “beautiful.”  I’d like to share some of the tips I’ve learned with you!  Keep in mind, they are also entirely relevant for our other opera this season, Guiseppe Verdi's La Traviata.

(1)  When looking for meaning in your text favor the verb.  Meaning, go towards it in your phrasing.
(2)  Most musical phrases should have some element of crescendo and diminuendo.  
(3)  Always sing through your vowels.  This tip never gets old, and I can never be reminded enough!
(4)  The accompaniment in Bel Canto is often the same no matter the sentiment.  As such, the singer should show intention both musically and visually as an actor.

Thanks again for reading! 

Please contact us with any questions or ideas for future blog posts.  You can follow us on twitter @martinazprelude or @aliciaenvivo.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Annnnd, We're Off!

By: Alicia Waller

I imagine many of us woke up similarly this morning – like it was the first day of classes at a new school that you’d really wanted to go to for a long time.  Our backgrounds are similar, give or take a few nuisances.  We all have a few solid years of vocal study under our belts, we’ve earned or are pursuing undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in music, we’ve learned our characters and the story for our prospective operas, we’ve studied language and diction, and perhaps most of all… we love to sing.  We love it so much in fact, that we’ve blocked out six weeks of our summer schedule to learn more about it, practice and perfect it.  As you can imagine, many of us were boiling over today with anticipation for meeting one another for the first time.  Well, I was boiling over with anticipation.

Questions raced through my mind of what the other singers would be like… what would my maestro and director be like? the Prelude staff? our stage manager?   Not to mention, of course, the flurry of butterflies circling my stomach eager to meet Madame Martina Arroyo.  Fortunately, all of my questions were answered swiftly the moment I walked through into Hunter College this morning. 

I was greeted warmly in the elevator to the fifth floor by fellow singer Wendy Wang (Rosina Cover - Barbiere), who was kind enough to direct me to Brecher Hall where we would all meet as a company for the first time.  The next face I recognized, of course was that of Madame Arroyo whose genuine warmth and operatic wisdom practically radiated through the entire room and down the hall.  Leading the helm of the opera I will be studying, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, are none other than Maestro Willie Anthony Waters and Mr. Anthony Laciura, each of whom revealed himself to be charming, hilarious and razor sharp.  I also learned that despite his astonishingly Verdian and resonate speaking voice, Mr. Mark Rucker (Administrative Director) is quick to share a laugh and pat a colleague on the back.  Additional notes were that Ms. Molly Johnson (Assistant Administrative Director) holds the key to all, tardiness is never tolerated, music must be memorized and… oh yes, music must be memorized! 

There are many other names and faces I met today which I hope to introduce to you over the next several weeks – singers and staff alike.  I look forward to sharing my experience as a Prelude to Performance participant with you, and invite you to tweet me @aliciaenvivo or @martinazprelude with any questions.

Thank you so much for reading, and talk to you soon!

P.S. For all of you Boardwalk Empire fans out there Eddie Kessler is even cooler in person.