Death by Aria at the Savannah Voice Festival


The Savannah Voice Festival is one of the many programs offered to serious singers throughout the year by The Voice Experience Foundation. The Voice Experience was founded in 2001 by Grammy Award Winning Opera Star, Sherrill Milnes and his wife, Maria Zouves. They were gracious enough to bring this amazing event to Savannah and I am so thankful that they did. The two-week Savannah Voice Festival is structured to enhance the skills and abilities of each singer in a non-competitive, performance format. It is a really amazing artist showcase, full of Concerts, Events and Educational Seminars which hope to inspire a NEW audience of listeners who have never been to an Opera or Broadway Show. (AKA it was designed for people just like ME!)

As I try to recall all of the exposure that I’ve had to Opera in my life, I realize that my Musical Education has been limited to mostly Looney Tunes Cartoons and Disney Movies. (Don’t Laugh.) As I am driving to the Festival’s Opening Event – Death By Aria, I cannot help but to acknowledge the irony of me JAMMING OUT to Justin Timberlake songs on the Radio. I have NO idea WHAT I am getting myself into, but I am pretty confident that Bugs Bunny will NOT be singing an Aria from the Barber of Seville. (Although that might be really cool.)

Death by Aria’s humorous name was given by The Event’s Director, Maria Zouves, who tells us that “you are about to hear so many Aria’s, you will want to DIE.” I am seriously hoping that is NOT the case with me.

Turns out, I could have stayed all night, no chance of me hearing too many Arias. I was impressed with the Talent Level of the performers of the Festival and later found out that these performers had to audition for their spot at the Event, which I thought was a great incentive.

Death By Aria was the audience’s chance to peer into the audition process which usually takes place behind the scenes. The Voice Experience Faculty must evaluate each singer’s ability level at the beginning of the Festival in order to take notes and learn where each performer can improve. It was like a new “Opera Idol Experience” because the audience had the opportunity to attend the “auditions” and participate in the review process. We were handed a review sheet similar to what the judges had in front of them and were supposed to comment on areas such as Beauty of Sound, Charisma, Performance Level and Image.

I was completely BLOWN AWAY by these YOUNG artists and the tremendous sounds that came out of them. There were performers from China, South Korea, Puerto Rico and all over the United Sates, singing their favorite Arias in Italian, Russian, German, English and Spanish. They were so precise with these words which were being sung in a language foreign to their own, and these Arias do not seem like they are easy to sing and I can definitely tell how much training these performers put in. AND If hitting those notes isn’t talent enough, these performers also have to tell a story about their character which must be conveyed through facial reactions and physical movements. WOW, that is A LOT to think about, and they made it look like it was a walk in the park.

I am now officially an OPERATUNIST! I loved the first event and can’t wait for more. I would like to take a moment to thank the Savannah Voice Festival for working with our Savannah Local Community to help build a New Cultural Opera Event and I am ready for a Night out at the Opera (stay tuned!) If you cannot make it to the Festival this year (still another week and a half to go) then you need to make plans to stay in Savannah when the Voice Festival returns in 2014.

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