CCM students star in celebrated Mozart opera 'The Marriage of Figaro'

The undergraduate students performed in a nearly sold-out run of the opera on Feb. 15-17 at CCM

Story by CCM Graduate Student Chet Rhodes

The UC College-Conservatory of Music Undergraduate Opera program (also known as Opera d'arte) presented a nearly sold-out run of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro on February 15-17, 2024 in Cohen Family Studio Theater. Starring an acclaimed student cast, the opera featured a variety of undergraduates who recently won a variety of awards and prestigious honors. 

CCM undergraduate students perform in "The Marriage of Figaro" at CCM. Photos by Melanie Reitman.

CCM's undergraduate opera production of "The Marriage of Figaro." Photos by Melanie Reitman.

The Marriage of Figaro is arguably one of the top operas ever written,” says director Amy Johnson, CCM Associate Professor of Voice. “The complexity of musical and dramatic layers serves as a standard to this day.” Written nearly 240 years ago, this hilarious opera has beautifully touching human undercurrents that still resound within audiences of today. Set to Mozart’s delightfully orchestrated score, Lorenzo Da Ponte’s witty libretto is both humorous and poignant, underscoring troubling social injustices.

“Da Ponte was masterful at poking fun at those of elevated status. More often than not, his common folk, specifically women, outsmart those around them,” Johnson points out. CCM’s production sets the classic tale in the 21st century, a time when Johnson says the messaging is vital. “There may no longer be the droit du seigneur, yet the suspension of disbelief is not required to understand that certain ‘half hours’ are still implied/ expected/ assumed in order for women to be retained, promoted, married, etc. Hubris, coercion, competition, jealousy, heartache, hope, infatuation abound.”

“The ultimate gift of the story is forgiveness and redemption,” Johnson says. “As we look at it in modern times, human frailty remains the same- fortunately so does the power of forgiveness.”

Starring the undergraduate seniors of CCM Voice, The Marriage of Figaro featured an absolutely star-studded cast. Johnson tells how these amazing undergraduates “have been invited to audition for the top graduate and young artist programs in the country.” CCM celebrates the outstanding work of these dedicated students, and congratulates them on their success!

Student Cast Accolades (as reported by Johnson):

Léa Nayak 
YA Programs: Chautauqua Opera Conservatory, Des Moines Metro Opera Young Artist Apprentice. Competitions: 2nd place for the National Opera Association 2024 Vocal Competition, a Kentucky District Winner for the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition, and 2nd place for the 2023 Matinee Musicale Scholarship Competition. Vice-President of the UC Opera Club for a year, and now social chair

Jadyn Riggs 
YA Programs: Sang with CANTO Vocal Programs and Singing Down the Barriers at the University of Michigan, singing the title role in Dido and Aeneas with the Chicago Summer Opera. Competitions: Matinee Musicale Encouragement Award, 3Arts Scholarship Recipient. Board of directors for MUSE Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir as well as a singing member in that same choir. 

Nia Spaulding 
YA Programs: Lehrer Vocal Institute voice fellow at the Music Academy of the West, Cincinnati Opera Chorus. Competitions: Michael and Cheryl Goldberg Award in Voice, 3Arts voice scholarship award.

Joshua Klein 
YA Programs: Opera North, Cincinnati Opera, Santa Fe Opera.

Sam Dhobhany 
YA Programs: Santa Fe Opera. Competitions: 1st Place Winner Matinee Musicale, 2nd Place Winner Mildred Miller Competition, Encouragement Award at Laffont Great Lakes Regional Competition, Encouragement Award Houston Grand Opera Concert of Arias.

Maya McGuire 
Competitions: Winner Three Arts Scholarship Fund 2023, First place Shirley Rabb Winston Voice Competition National Society of Arts and Letters 2023, Finalist Upper Division Schmidt Vocal Competition Undergraduate 2023, Winner Lower Division Schmidt Vocal Competition Undergraduate 2022. President of UC’s Opera Club, Co-director of Cincinnati's yearly International Women’s Day recital benefitting Women Helping Women

Grant Shields 
YA Programs: Chorus member for Cincinnati Opera’s Summer Season. Competitions: Placed 3rd in Matinee Musicale’s Scholarship Competition.

Natalie Corrigan 
YA Programs: Chautauqua Opera Conservatory. Competitions: Kansas City District Metropolitan Laffont Competition Encouragement Award 2024, Audience Choice Vanderlaan Prize Opera Grand Rapids 2023, Second Prize Tri-Cities Vocal Competition Dayton Opera, First Prize Classical Singer 2022, Second Prize Hal Leonard Competition 2022 

Emilio Vasquez
YA Programs: Schaunard with ISOFOM Morelia and in the Houston Grand Opera Young Artist Vocal Academy, Opera Theatre St. Louis. Competitions: Encouragement award with the Kentucky District in the Laffont Competition, Finalist in the Schmidt Undergraduate Vocal Competition.

Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte 

Amy Johnson, stage director and co-producer
Brett Scott, music director and conductor
Cory Battey, assistant conductor and musical preparation
Kenneth Shaw, set designer and co-producer
Robert Doak, set construction
Corey Cochran, costume designer
Susan Moser, choreographer
Stephen Variames, musical preparation/repetiteur
Parker Konkle, musical preparation/repetiteur
William Meckstroth, lighting designer

About CCM Voice and Opera

CCM’s Departments of Voice and Opera provide one of the most comprehensive training programs for singers, opera coaches and opera directors in the United States.

CCM offers an international faculty of dedicated educators who are also celebrated professionals in their own right, widely and currently active in their respective fields.

CCM sends its students out into the profession. Several national opera companies now hold auditions at the conservatory, and the Opera Department also hosts a series of informational talks by nationally renowned artists' managers, opera company managers, artistic directors, program directors, performers and coaches, all of whom are prominent professionals working both in America and in Europe.

Featured image at the top: Undergraduate students perform in CCM's production of "The Marriage of Figaro". Photos by Melanie Reitman.

Headshot of Chet Rhodes

Chet Rhodes

CCM Graduate Assistant, Marketing + Communications

Currently a Bassoon Performance master’s student at CCM, Chet received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Utah. He has held positions with the Salt Lake Symphony and the Utah Philharmonia.

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