By Daniel Johanson
The curtains have dropped on the yearly showcase known as Vivid. The April 8 performance highlighted the vocal output of CCPA and seemed to resonate deeply with both the audience and the performers.
The showcase was put on in the historic Auditorium Theatre and is one of the few times that Roosevelt University uses the space every year.
“The Auditorium Theatre is the reason art and culture came to Chicago,” said Teaira Burge, an opera student. “Essentially, it is the reason we are all here. Our greatest opera ancestors have graced the stage of the Auditorium Theatre, and it is an honor to be a part of that history, especially since this is such a special anniversary year for the theatre.”
Some of the art form’s greatest singers have graced that stage, including Adelina Patti, Enrico Caruso, Tito Gobbi and many more. The performers last Tuesday follow a long tradition of singing excellence.
“One of our required courses for our masters degree is a seminar course titled Toward the Professional Singer, taught by Professor Scott Gilmore,” Burge said. “In this course, we essentially learn the history of opera, the opera singer and opera in Chicago. You cannot discuss these topics without mentioning the Auditorium Theatre.”
Although the event was emotionally gripping for the performers, its intentions were really to reach out to the audience. One second year voice student, Benjamin Brunette, had the opportunity to give a speech that told his story.
“Carolyn Bernstein, the director of development at CCPA, was asking some of the teachers who would be good to make a speech for Vivid, and they suggested me,” Brunette said.
This personal touch provided a service to potential donors. It put a face to the fundraiser that allowed for it to stand out.
“They’re trying to get more funding, specifically for the voice department,” Brunette said. “They really believe in us and want us to get a quality education without having to pay an arm and a leg.”
This is not the only thing that set this event apart from other fundraisers. The entire evening was full of a wide variety of entertainment.
Events like this allow for the performers and audience to meet in the middle, allowing for a level of connection felt by all.
“Singing in that theater was magical and sublime,” said Brittany Loewen, one of the students in the professional diploma program. “It felt like the years I have worked on this form earned a support and validation that I haven’t experienced before to that degree. It was especially poignant because this is the first performance I have done where I didn’t have family in the audience, and I still felt the love.”
One of the more organic events of the evening directly involved Loewen and this connection between performer and audience. During a vocally demanding part of her scene, the audience burst into applause.
“I thought after the performance that the spontaneous applause was a result of people not being familiar with the piece enough to know that it wasn’t over,” Loewen said. “Upon further reflection, I would like to think that it was a result of the excitement that can occur when an unamplified voice can produce a lot of sound in a big space like the Auditorium Theatre.”
It’s the nature of programming new with old that really mirrors the history of the Auditorium Theatre. Although its beginnings were formal, the theatre now brings in many modern acts.
“I think that as an aspiring opera singer, it can be daunting to think about the future of opera and the changing perspective of the modern audience,” Loewen said. “However, after last night’s response to our program, I feel a renewed sense of hope that modern audiences still crave opera… even if they don’t know it yet.”
The program of operatic scenes was followed by a wide variety of scenes from the Sing Your Own Song program put on by the Theater Conservatory earlier this year. This program featured newer pieces by songwriting duo Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich.
This juxtaposition of operatic and theatrical works of the vocal sphere showed that the two have the ability to coincide.