Producing an Opera at Molly’s Music

by | Jun 26, 2019 | Company, News | 0 comments

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We’ve always strived to make Molly’s Music a haven for vocal students who wanted to perform commercial music. For years, we ran our Glee and Studio M groups, targeted to the art of pop vocal performance. Four summers ago, we opened our first Pop Star Camp, where students spend a week perfecting a song to perform in our final performance.

But recently we’ve been branching out into the incomparable world of opera. In May, we put on our first ever opera production, Zanetto, produced by our umbrella nonprofit, CultureHum Foundation. Molly’s Music teacher Anne, a professional opera singer herself, directed and starred in it, and we were joined by Marcela Pan, opera singer and musicologist.

Anne LaBella

Marcela Pan

For those of you not yet familiar with this gem, Zanetto is a one-act opera by Pietro Mascagni with only two characters, the soprano, Silvia, and a mezzo soprano pants role, Zanetto. Roles for young males were often written for thicker-voiced women, the rationale being that the youth would have a vocal timbre similar to a mezzo soprano or contralto woman.

Unlike longer multi-act operas that tell the story of long romances, Zanetto simply portrays a brief moment in the lives of these two characters. In her lecture to the audience, Anne described the whole opera as not much more than an “awkward first date.”

For those of you not yet familiar with this gem, Zanetto is a one-act opera by Pietro Mascagni with only two characters, the soprano, Silvia, and a mezzo soprano pants role, Zanetto. Roles for young males were often written for thicker-voiced women, the rationale being that the youth would have a vocal timbre similar to a mezzo soprano or contralto woman.

Unlike longer multi-act operas that tell the story of long romances, Zanetto simply portrays a brief moment in the lives of these two characters. In her lecture to the audience, Anne described the whole opera as not much more than an “awkward first date.”

Because of the limitations of our space, we chose a production that perfectly fit: a cast of 2 (Anne and Marcela), a pianist (me) instead of a whole orchestra, and a minimalist set consisting of a couple chairs and plants, a table, and some wine glasses. We used the music studios as our backstage area. All of this fit comfortably in our tiny space, and Anne and Marcela killed it, eliciting some “bravas” from the audience at the end.

We had a wonderful time putting on our first opera and can’t wait to do the next one!

Molly Webb

Molly is the founder of Molly’s Music. She is a dedicated singer and pianist whose musical journey spans 2.5 decades, with stops along the way to sing for the pope, pass Certificate of Merit at the highest level, study with Gwen Verdon and Ben Vereen, and record an original album.

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