Opera star coming to campus

By ERIN FLOM, Guest Writer

Stephanie Blythe performing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 2013 (Creative Commons).
Stephanie Blythe performing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 2013 (Creative Commons).

Lutes with affinities for Opera have a special opportunity awaiting them Monday.

Opera star Stephanie Blythe will be at Pacific Lutheran University to teach a master class 7 p.m. Feb. 23 in Laguerquist Concert Hall.

Vocal Studies professor James L. Brown helped to organize the event.

“[Blythe] is an advocate for opera and a champion of the whole gambit of vocal music,” Brown said.

Therefore, she is passionate about offering her skills in master classes.

When planning master classes, Brown said “we try to catch people when they’re in the area, rather than fly them in.”

Blythe is in the area rehearsing for Seattle Opera’s performance of the Handel opera “Semele.”

During the class, five PLU students will perform for Blythe. Each student will have a half hour to perform and be critiqued by Blythe. After all the students have performed, Blythe will then take questions from the audience.

Sophomore Miya Higashiyama is one of the five students performing for Blythe. When asked if she was nervous, Higashiyama said, “I’m terrified.”

More than fifty students applied to perform for Blythe, Higashiyama said.

Higashiyama has previously taken other master classes, including a summer workshop with PLU faculty.

“They really help you to grow in your musicianship,” Higashiyama said.

The four other students performing are seniors Annie Herzog, Lauren Searls, Sarah Bennet and Eric Olson.

Brown believes that having this class with Blythe will give his students not only a fresh perspective on opera, but also a “perspective informed by an international performing career.”

He also expects his students will gain performing insight from her.

“[Blythe] is known as an engaging and gripping performer,” Brown said.

For example, Blythe requested that most of the five performers sing their pieces in English.

“It will help [the students] to focus on the words they’re singing,” said Brown, making their performance, and not just their voice, stronger. 🅼

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