Students Gain Professional Experience Performing in Imperial Symphony Orchestra’s Madama Butterfly
Not many undergraduate music students are granted the opportunity to gain professional performance experience, but Florida Southern’s Music Department gives its students the training and the chance to succeed. When the Imperial Symphony Orchestra's production of the opera Madama Butterfly graced the stage in the Branscomb Memorial Auditorium last Saturday night, 14 FSC students and two faculty members were included among the cast.
Assuming the role of Kate Pinkerton, Elaine Bennington, a Florida Southern Vocal Performance major found the experience of working with professionals onstage to be invaluable. “This experience has given me so much confidence, and reassured me that Opera really is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” said Bennington.
For the past 11 years Florida Southern College has been a partner with the Imperial Symphony Orchestra. Annually, the ISO has allowed undergraduate students to audition for roles in their professional operas, and every year students have been cast.
John Thomasson, Opera Theatre Director and Associate Professor of Music, has sung and performed with his students in professional productions for the past 10 years.
“It’s a blast. I have so much fun working with the students. It’s amazing to see them on stage with professionals, doing the things that we helped train them for,” Thomasson said. “The experience of working in an opera really gives them an idea of what’s expected and required of them.”
Joshua Mazur, a senior Voice major who landed a role in Madama Butterfly as Prince Yamadori, has had the privilege to participate in every annual ISO production since 2010, making Madama Butterfly his fourth performance with the company. “The type of professional experience and exposure you gain is something unheard of for an undergraduate program,” said Mazur, “Because of this partnership, I have gotten the opportunity to sing alongside seasoned professionals, one who even sang in the Metropolitan Opera.”
While he has gained lots of experience and resume-building opportunities from the partnership, there are many other reasons that Josh values his musical education experience at Florida Southern so much.
“The teaching here is unequaled, and so are the opportunities. I love the practical approach our staff has on performance. My experience has prepared me excellently to pursue music at the next level.” Mazur plans on attending the University of South Florida for graduate school, studying Voice and Orchestral Conducting.
Florida Southern College offers a Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Music Education, Bachelor of Music Management, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. To learn more, visit the Department of Music. Auditions are currently being held for fall 2013.