BYSO Opera: Student Voices

Every year, the BYSO Opera is a very memorable and meaningful experience for our students. When asked to reflect on their time in BYSO, each year many students mention the Opera as one of their favorite experiences. Since it is a highlight for so many students, we wanted to share some quotes and stories from the student perspective, especially as we prepare and get excited for this year’s Opera, Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust coming up on January 22nd! Continue reading to hear about the BYSO Opera experience from the perspective of our students over the years.

“One of my favorite memories from BYSO was the first time I heard the chorus, trumpets and orchestra all playing together in Sanders Theater during the dress rehearsal for Otello. The entire theater exploded with sound and everybody just sort of sat there for a second afterward without saying anything. I’ve never felt like I was part of something so powerful in my entire life.” -Erin Cantor, BYS Violist 2015-2016 Season

“My favorite BYSO experience is undeniably playing opera. The feeling of being on stage right at the center of the story is thrilling. I really appreciated the opportunity to work with professional singers, get to know the style, and experience the development of the the stories through props, costumes, and stage elements. Un Ballo in Maschera was an enchanting introduction to opera; Otello gave me new perspective on a classic Shakespeare play; and La Cenerentola brought back that childhood magic to the music.” -Anna Peng, BYS Hornist, 2015-2016 Season

“I really enjoy rehearsing for the opera, especially once the singers come, because I think it’s a great experience that is unique to BYSO. It’s really rewarding to see and hear the performance come together after many hours of rehearsal and practicing our individual parts. The combination of the singers, the staging, and the orchestra creates an almost magical experience that I will always remember.” -Anupama Dinesh, BYS Bassoonist 2015-2016 Season

“I loved my first year at BYS when I played my first opera, Rigoletto. I had always thought that opera was filled with expressive and exaggerated singing, but I was very wrong. Opera was a form of art that was so beautiful in its own, requiring immense concentration, perseverance, and utmost cooperation. To me, it was astonishing to see that music and theater could so smoothly meld together to create a visual and auditory performance. It was a truly unbelievable experience that would last in my memory for years to come.” -Angela Lee, BYS Violinist 2015-2016 Season

“Crying after the Otello concert, not because of a mistake but because I was proud of what we had done.” -Abigail Haines, BYS Oboist 2015-2016 Season

“Playing Otello at Sanders Theater with professional singers was absolutely unforgettable, and singing along in rehearsals definitely brought new appreciation for the music!” -Sabrina Chen, BYS Clarinetist 2015-2016 Season

“My favorite part of BYSO was the operas. Opera season was definitely the most stressful yet rewarding time of the year.” -Henry Bouchard, BYS Violinist 2015-2016 Season

“One of my favorite experiences at BYSO has been performing the opera at Sanders Theater each year. The performances have always felt really powerful, and it’s one of my favorite bonding experiences with other members of the orchestra.” -Julia Ansolabehere, BYS Clarinetist 2015-2016 season

“It was truly a magical experience that I am so grateful to be a part of. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to play with such talented singers from all over the world and create a wonderful production for a packed audience.” -Tilo Giorgetti, BYS Cellist 2018-2019 Season

“During the months when we only rehearsed the music, I already fell in love with the piece, though when we first started rehearsing I was overwhelmed by the “random” entrances and very unexpected tempo changes. With the passing of time, however, I realized I have learned so much both musically and socially from fellow orchestra members and Fed, just by playing along with them. Finally the time came when we had a stage rehearsal with the singers. After Musetta’s aria, I couldn’t help but say “it’s so good” a bit too loudly, and the others around me chuckled softly. Even without the fancy costumes, I could truly feel passion and dedication from every single person seeping through the curtains. On the day of the performance, my nervousness was quenched by the supportive words from friends and the excitement to bring this piece to life finally to the audience. One of my college interviews came to the show upon my invitation, and complimented the performance tremendously. My mom said that she cried during Mimi’s aria in the first act, and that she had goosebumps when Musetta hit her high note, an experience she did not have when we watched The Met Opera’s La Bohème. Obviously, there are a lot to applaud and we as musicians know there are equally as much we could improve. But my main takeaway is how music can truly bring an impact on people.” -Chen Chen Huang, BYS Flutist 2018-2019 Season

“My favorite BYSO experiences would definitely be the opera performances of Aida and La Traviata.” -Lau Yeung Wong, BYS Tubist 2021-2022 Season

“I will never forget the first time BYS rehearsed La Boheme with singers at Sanders Theatre. Although I was nervous playing opera for the first time, as the rehearsal went on, I became completely immersed in the synergy between the singers and the orchestra. With childish glee, my heart jumped with excitement hearing the singers bellow the melodies I listened to online. Through playing opera, I learned how to bring the clarinet to life, becoming an extension of the story and all of its emotions.” – Alex Li, BYS Clarinetist 2021-2022 Season

As we prepare for our 2022-2023 Season Opera, Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust…

“The sitzprobe (when the orchestra and the singers rehearse together for the first time) was the most interesting and engaging rehearsal I’ve ever had!” -Sophie Berk, BYS Hornist 2022-2023 Season

“Playing with young, talented, and driven musicians gives me so much joy. I can’t wait to bring this piece to life. The roar of the crowd will make all of the hard work worth it.” -Sadie Carroll, BYS Cellist 2022-2023 Season

“It has been incredible experiencing the opera come to life with the singers and watching our hard work come into fruition these past few months.” -Angie Feng, BYS Hornist 2022-2023 Season

“Opera music requires a whole new level of preparation and collaboration within the orchestra, but that is what makes it so unique. BYSO Operas have allowed me to reach my highest potential as a player.” -Ella Allen, BYS Bassist 2022-2023 Season

“Preparing for the opera has been such an incredible experience simply because of the unique opportunity to learn so much music in such an intricate and dedicated way. Opera season definitely brings out the singer in me as the music is always in my head. You can find me singing the opera in school, around my house, and even quietly in rehearsal. Getting to play with singers that sound just like the recordings I listen to is such a treat and makes me feel much more immersed in the music.” -Lia Suk, BYS Flutist 2022-2023 Season

“This being my first opera, I went in with a multitude of emotions. Now, as we near the finish line, I’ve learned that all those emotions correlate with each week’s rehearsal. It’s been a long journey, and I know BYS is ready to deliver.” -Maereg Million, BYS Bassist 2022-2023 Season