It’s amazing how many great people have dedicated themselves to advancing the skills and opportunities of singers. When I interview these great people, my mind is blown by their intelligence mixed with diligence. For example, consider this interview with Martha Sharp:
Welcome to CS Music Online Magazine, Martha.
What are you pursuing now — you never seem to stop!
Having spent the last 45 years in Europe as an Opera Singer and Professor of Voice at the “Mozarteum” in Salzburg, I have returned to the States. I am 72 years old, am still singing, and have founded the International Opera Workshop in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. This summer will mark the 3rd season.
Great. Welcome back. What does your Opera Workshop do for singers?
I usually pick 6 or 7 different opera scenes to perform that are selected with the individual young singer’s needs and abilities in mind. To direct and stage young singers from a seasoned singer’s perspective has proven to be very valuable and helpful to our singers. I believe that singers have to know how to move, really act, and know how to make themselves look wonderful on stage. This means that a singer not only has to know how to sing and be aware of his or her vocal technique, they must be able to maintain the instrument, which is their whole body in spite of any acting or movements required.
The singer needs to know more than the stage director and the conductor about his options on stage.
You must have had some great mentors to provide such mentorship.
It is certain that I have worked with and learned from many amazing conductors and directors and I have great respect for their genius. Unfortunately, not all artists are equally talented. Especially on the way up in this career, young singers will not always have the luck to have a fabulous director or conductor. That’s why I am passionate about teaching young singers, to be able to perhaps save them some time and share what I have learned.
When did you begin your program to assist singers?
I founded this program in 1999 with Margaret Singer as musical director in Lofer, Austria. For twenty years, we have had many wonderful singers come through the program, who are now singing in major opera houses. My idea is that because I live in the States now, I can offer this (actually) European based Workshop to American singers, saving them the expense of having to travel to Europe.
Margaret Singer is a household name to many singers as the best coach anywhere.
I first met her at Tanglewood in 1976 when I was a fellow for the summer. After that experience, I coached all my roles with her in New York. Later, she moved to Europe where I sought her out again during the time I was “fest” in Kassel, Germany and preparing to work freelance. Ms. Singer still lives in Germany, teaches at the Atelier Lyrique/Academie of the Paris Opera and is a regular at the Bregenzer Festspiele and Toronto Festival, etc. for many years. She coached at the Met and City Opera, established the apprentice program at Merola and Tanglewood, etc. etc. before coming to Europe.
Advertisement (article continues below)
Advertising (article continues below)
So what does your program have in store for 2019?
I have invited Cameron Becker, Tenor and to be our Guest Artists for this Summer 2019.
Cameron Becker is a former student of mine from the “Mozarteum”, who is now engaged in Karlsruhe, Germany. He is originally from Kansas City and took part several times in our Workshop program as a student.is quickly making his way to the top of the performing arts scene in Germany. At just 32 years old he has over 500 performances under his belt spanning a wide range of repertoire.
In May he will make his Italian debut at the Teatro Regio in Torino and subsequently sing the title role in La clemenza di Tito at the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe. I think he will have a lot to offer young students, since he is fairly young himself.
I became good friends with Katharine Goeldner in Salzburg. She still has a home there although she is performing a lot in the States. Recent performances include her Minnesota Orchestra debut as Herodias in Richard Strauss’ Salome and Dalila in Samson et Dalila at Virginia Opera. She created the role of Jackie Onassis in David T. Little and Royce Vavrek’s JFK, and starred at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as Ma Joad in the premiere of the revised version of Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie’s The Grapes of Wrath. Her many roles at the Metropolitan Opera include the Schoolboy in Lulu (the role of her company debut, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, and Ascanio in Benvenuto Cellini to name a few.
I have experienced her as a performer, singer and vocal technician. It doesn’t get much better than that. I know the students will be excited to meet her.
Where will you hold Workshops?
The Workshops are purposefully planned to be in a place that is peaceful, small, intimate and nurturing. The biggest plus for this summer is the community of 900 people in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. I tell the students that this is not a venue to be discovered or make your career. This is a place to come to hone your craft, take time off and work on some vocal difficulties, improve your acting abilities and your movement issues.
Even if you aren’t an emerging professional and have never been on stage, this is the place to be before you audition for an Opera Studio or go to Europe. I thought I was here for the young singers, but I discovered I was also here for the people who had never experienced opera. It has been an amazing experience. If you’ve never heard a cowboy cry because he is moved by classical opera, then this is where you need to be.
For more information go to her program’s website: operaworkshopintheflinthills.org
Dates: June 30 – July 14, 2019
Performances: July 12,13,14
Tuition: $1500. includes accommodations, breakfast and evening meal, all musical, staging, stage theory classes, voice lessons, individual repertoire advice, information pertaining to agents and auditioning in Europe, tour of the Tall Grass Prairie including buffalo.