Making music in Mendocino

History of the Workshop

Redwoods at Chez Vrenios

Although the workshop has only been in existence for 8 seasons, the experienced faculty have been teaching for more than 30 years across the United States and Europe. It is the belief of the faculty that every move that the singer makes is in the music. When you begin to listen to what the orchestra is doing, the moves, gestures and emotions seem to come out of the music and it becomes easy.

Elizabeth Vrenios narrating a scene

Elizabeth Vrenios narrating a scene

The future of opera is in a state of flux and we are discovering that while symphony orchestras are going into chapter 11 and disappearing because the funding has dried up, opera seems to be blooming. It is at the educational level that we can change concepts of what is acceptable to watch and what is not. As more and more people are exposed to the marvelous Metropolitan Broadcasts, we are beginning to want our opera singers to be believable. Now that the audience is privy to supertitles which enable us to “get the joke” when it occurs on the stage, we are not as apt to accept a singer who cannot communicate skillfully on the stage – even if they have a gorgeous voice. If there is a choice, we want to see acting and hear beautiful singing. To be an opera singer is perhaps the most difficult profession in the world. Not only do these young people have to train their bodies to produce a strong, stentorian sound, but they have to learn difficult music, learn German, French, Italian as well as a host of other languages. They have to learn to move, gesture, dance, sing high notes, low notes, be understood and learn to project it all over an 80 piece orchestra. The Redwoods Opera Workshop is attempting to teach a few of the components that the young singer has to have. In the short time they spend here they learn about movement, acting, gesture, motivation, projection, character development, career development, communication etc.