In August of 2014, Act Too Studio launched its first full production! Many thanks to our generous donors for making this production possible!
By Polly Pen & Peggy Harmon, Music by Polly Pen
Anna Plummer, Laura
Directed by Melinda Beasi
Lighting Design: Michelle Wellman
Performances: August 9th-10th, 2014 at 2:00 PM & 7:00 PM
|What people are saying about Act Too Studio Opera Workshop:|
I’m here to say that Act Too Studio’s Teen Opera Workshop is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of. It’s given me confidence. It’s made me feel a kind of joy I’ve never felt before. And it gives me hope that more people like me: young, black and queer, will get to have a place in the world of opera. Be it listening or performing.
My love for classical music goes way back. Both my parents love it, and I have grown up listening to and appreciating it. It always played a role in my life. But as I got older, other genres pushed aside classical. Teenagers just don’t listen to classical, let alone sing it, right? Wrong. At Act Too Studio, not only is it ‘cool’, it proves that teenagers can, and do, love opera. I go in every week and watch teens my age singing from the heart in powerful, well-trained voices. They show what young people are capable of, and I feel so honored to be able to sing alongside them. They push me to work hard and believe in myself. We are a team, and we cheer each other on and support each other. Melinda works endlessly to teach us what we need to know to fully appreciate and be able to sing such beautiful music. We are so lucky to have such a dedicated and passionate teacher.
Act Too Studio has created a safe haven for those who perhaps don’t quite fit in with the stereotypically ‘cool’ kids. Opera Workshop is a place where we can be vulnerable, and expressive, and learn and grow. Other kids ask us how we got our voices to be so good, and to their shock, we answer, “opera.” Teens who have maybe ridiculed opera in the past begin to see how wonderful it really is. We open young people’s eyes to this beautiful art form, and they — we — become stronger and kinder and more creative because of it. I think *that’s* cool.
When I was younger, I had the stereotypical connotation of high, off-key music, sung by old people in languages I couldn’t understand. Now, if you say the word ‘Opera’ to me, I think of thousands of wonderful memories, from the loving social environment, to the incredible skills I’ve learned. Act Too Studio’s Opera Workshop is truly a life changing experience. I have grown so much as a performer from just a year, and I can’t wait to continue for as long as possible.
Who knew that teens could not only perform outstanding and sophisticated opera but also relish every minute of it? Who knew that I would thoroughly enjoy watching opera? Not me. That’s for sure. Both of my teenagers have been a part of Act Too Studio’s opera productions and gained an acute appreciation for this art form. It is a phenomenal and innovative program. Act Too Studio has been a major part of my children’s lives and shaped their futures! I am so grateful we found them!!!!!!
Back in May of last year, I saw Melinda posted an inquiry on Facebook for an assistant stage manager for the Opera Workshop’s summer production, Il sogno d’Arianna-to which I messaged her and got it! This was some of my first real exposure to classical music. After the first rehearsal my idea of what opera and classical music was shattered. Instead of being this thing where people sing crazy high notes with a Viking helmet on, it morphed into a real art form. It’s incredible to me how all of us originally have these preconceived notions about what opera is, and how we view it, yet when submerged in all of its glory you feel and relate to this music written hundreds of years ago. The human connection and human experience of opera is a beautiful thing that I’m glad I’m a part of.
What made me most proud of being a part of Il sogno d’Arianna was during the final week of rehearsal, when we ran the show fully and completely. I’ll never forget getting chills up my arms and tears on my face, all because of teenagers singing. It is truly incredible and I’m so, so glad I have the opportunity to not only be a part of this coming summer’s opera production, but sing alongside those who made me fall in love with classical music.
When I first started studying with Melinda, I didn’t realize how much of an impact our weekly lessons would have on me. Within a few months, I was hooked. I am now determined to pursue a career in classical singing. Opera is one of the most challenging, exciting and most beautiful art forms to study. When I first started taking lessons, it never occurred to me that being an opera singer meant not only knowing how to sing, but also acting and knowing multiple languages. It was both exhilarating and overwhelming. Thanks to Melinda and my peers, at Opera Workshop, I came to be comfortable with the various aspects of opera singing. Please support us today, so we can continue learning our craft, and by doing so, continue to inspire other teens.
Act Too Studio Opera Workshop has meant the world to me. Three summers ago we had the first performance of scenes from the second act of The Marriage of Figaro. I signed up not fully knowing what I was getting myself into but ended up having an amazing time! I had done musical theater for years, but never opera and I had no idea that opera could be just as hilarious, thought provoking, and engaging as musical theater. I learned to love and respect an entirely different style of music that I have continued to learn and love over the past several years.
Melinda and Act Too Studio Opera Workshop provide something that is incredibly unique and necessary for The Pioneer Valley. There are plenty of opportunities for teen performers to participate in musicals, plays, or choirs where classical music is sometimes performed, but there is almost no other opportunity for teens to participate and get engaged in the world of Opera with a group of likeminded peers. While next year in college I will ultimately be studying Musical Theater, I will do so in a music centered program that still allows for me to sing and train classically as well as audition for operas. I would have not chosen or let alone been accepted to that program if it weren’t for Act Too Studio and The Opera Workshop.
The Opera Workshop is an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. The program has taught me about a whole new genre of music. When I’m older and have had many more memories crowding my brain, this Workshop will be with me forever. Not only does this program teach you so much, but it also gives you a family. The Act Too Studio teachers (Jan, Bob, and Melinda) are some of the most inspirational and generous people I have ever met. They are AMAZING teachers and I’ve found, not only an incredible place of learning–but a family.
Another reason the Opera Workshop is so amazing is how unique of a program this is. Since when do you see teens singing opera? And learning about it? Where is that kind of program available? At Act Too Studio!! This is an incredible learning experience for everyone involved. We get to learn about the history of magnificent works of art, learn about their composers and learn how to perform these beautiful pieces.
In the past our kids have loved attending the opera workshop performances, and they couldn’t wait until they were old enough to do it. Last year was their first chance to participate, and they had a fantastic experience. They loved everything about it: the music itself, working with Melinda, Lemmy, and James, practicing with the older kids, and the total immersion the opera workshop provided. The environment was not only very challenging, with high expectations and no corners cut, but was also very warm and supportive. Our kids couldn’t wait to go every morning. It was an incredible opportunity for musical growth. They can’t wait to do it again this summer. It’s a great program that deserves everyone’s support.
Paul & Carmela Gravante-Gunnells
We have been attending Act Two Studio operatic productions for years. What the artistic director, Melinda Beasi, has been able to accomplish with these young, dedicated artists is simply inspiring. We come for the music but we have always left with an appreciation for the poise and passion that she and her students bring to the performances. We truly admire her dedication.
When I first heard that ActTooStudio’s program was doing operas with young teens I was very skeptical when I went to the first performance. I work sometimes with Juilliard students in NYC and was thus dreading a regional teen production. But was I really surprised! If I did not know what ActToo is and was told the production was being performed by Juilliard pre-college students I would have believed it. It was that professional in quality.
I am so grateful to Melinda for creating the Opera Workshop, it is literally the gift that keeps on giving. This program is a bright light in the arena of the Arts – so important in these times. My son’s passion for opera has grown, and his knowledge about music expanded, in a warm and safe community of like-minded peers. In Opera Workshop young singers are guided and taught by Melinda, an amazing teacher who is ever encouraging and supportive of her students.
Melinda Beasi, the founder of this workshop, has created opportunities for youth that they would never have had without this program. She has touched, and even changed, lives through the experiences they have. I am always so impressed with the hard work that goes into this and the willingness of these kids to venture into this opera world. My daughter has benefited from this in so many ways. Her life has been enriched. She has grown as a performer and fallen in love with this genre. She has gained confidence and found her passion. The older students become mentors for the younger, newer members. I could go on and on, but I really already have!
The Opera Workshop means so much to me. It has helped me grow through music and explore. It has pushed me to be challenged and to experiment. To learn and to WANT to learn things that would have intimidated me before. I jumped in and was shocked by how fast I fell in love with opera and how much it inspired me and improved me. I saw all of these amazing stories by standing hand in hand with music and letting it take me to places never before traveled.
I have to say that I never thought I would be singing opera. I never even imagined myself doing something like this. But here I am trying to figure out what schools I’d like to audition for to try to pursue opera professionally in my future. Everyday I think about how different my life would be if I had never been given this opportunity to be a part of the Opera Workshop. I feel so, so grateful. I hope that if you are reading this, you understand how remarkable this program is and how important it is that serious teen singers are introduced to opera. I say wholeheartedly that it has changed my life.
Melinda is a great teacher- Not only in the way that she is extraordinarily well educated in music and performance, but she also knows how to pull you out of your comfort zone (in a good way!) She’s someone who I feel completely comfortable around, regardless of how ridiculous we’re being.
Melinda is one of the most talented people I have ever had the privilege of working with. She has an uncanny ability to see what’s needed in any situation and provide it, and her warm compassionate energy brings out the best in everyone. Melinda brings the depth of her extensive experience as a performer into the teaching studio — she really thinks everything through for her students and thoroughly prepares them for their performances. A true artist with a generous soul and rock-solid vocal technique: you couldn’t ask for a better teacher.
James David Jacobs
Composer, Conductor, & Colleague