Opera in the Ozarks leaves lasting impression

Experiencing first hand the responsibilities of being a professional opera singer, Fort Hays State University alumna Emily Cline, Lyons, spent her summer days performing in Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony in Eureka Springs, Ark.

Opera in the Ozarks was founded by Dr. Henry Hobart in 1950. It has earned the reputation of being a prominent training program for singers interested in pursuing a career in opera. Every participant is offered an opportunity to perform in fully produced operas. Four weeks of rehearsal and four weeks of performances are under the supervision of a professional staff member.

Cline, a 2009 graduate from FHSU with a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in vocal performance, auditioned for the company and was one of 54 selected to join the cast.

After a month of intense rehearsals, Cline began participating in nightly shows and served as a member of the wardrobe crew. She appeared in "Albert Herring" by Benjamin Britton as well as an the outreach educational show "Hansel and Gretel" by Humperdinck, which they performed at local churches and special occasions.

"I received a scholarship and was required to help in the costume shop doing whatever the costume mistresses needed done," said Cline. "I also helped build and paint the sets for each of the four operas."

Although Cline found it difficult to leave her fiancé and family members, she felt the experience will continue to benefit her.

"I want to perform opera for a living, and by working on these roles in a young teaching environment, I was able to make mistakes and learn without getting fired," said Cline. "The professional world is not nearly as forgiving compared to when you are a student. I have gained more experience, and I have developed as an actor and a musician."

After two months of long practices and nightly performances, Cline returned home, bringing opportunities, memories and valuable lessons with her.

"I feel that I gained confidence, I think being away from all of my friends and family made me really rely on myself, and now I know I am ready for the next step in my career, which is grad school," said Cline. "I feel like I've grown in my acting abilities and I'm much more connected to the text that I am singing. It was really great to see where I stood amidst so many talented people of different ages and educational levels."

Even after graduation, Cline continues to take voice lessons through FHSU from Dr. Joe Perniciaro, assistant professor of music.

"I am really grateful I had this opportunity and that my teacher was so supportive and encouraging," Cline said. "I learned so much and met so many great people that I know will be contacts for life."

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