Oct 222003
Authors: Daniel Hallford

Top performers, opera graduate students and faculty sang on

Oct.17, for the annual “Cantare e dolci” fundraiser, which along

with ticket sales, almost completely funds the opera program at


An hour of energetic arias, sung by faculty and students, was

followed by a silent auction and an “aria auction” in which

audience members could bid on professors to sing a work of their


An aria is a spirited solo vocal section of an opera, and often

tells a main part of the opera’s story. Saturday’s program will

fund CSU Opera’s spring production of “Albert Herring,” which will

be shown in the Lory Student Center Theater.

“It’s a smaller department, it’s more nurturing,” said Cynthia

Carmichael, a first year graduate.

Even though opera at CSU has been rather quiet the past few

years, it’s gaining more momentum each year. Last year only three

graduate students made up the department. Nine students fill the

halls with music this year, and they are sparking renewed interest

in undergrad students of the voice department. This is the second

year in a long while that CSU has had graduate students in the

opera program.

Carmichael currently teaches 19 students and hopes to teach

voice at a university with her degree. After receiving her bachelor

of music from the University of Colorado in 1994, she took nine

years off.

“I needed to take time to mature vocally, and as a person.”

Carmichael is only one of the talented opera students at


“It’s a very practical program,” says Kent Young, a tenor in his

first year of a master’s degree at CSU. “You’re not fighting for


Young is working towards an eventual doctorate degree, but

leaving his options opens.

“We’re learning a lot about the music industry and survival

techniques,” he said.

Travis Risner has been at CSU for five years, and will receive

his masters of music this spring. Risner and his wife Britta

Risner, who is also scheduled to get her masters in the spring,

were pivotal in rekindling the opera program at CSU last year.

“It’s been a good experience for those of us who started it last

year,” she said. “It’s a new and different experience. It’s very

exciting to know that it has potential to grow and get better.”

Risner feels that his education at CSU could easily put him in a

position to get a professional acting or vocal job.

“Ultimately I see myself retiring as a teacher,” he said. “You

could definitely reach that level, if some of us are lucky enough

to achieve that. If you love doing it, then what does it


Ultimately, Todd Queen, director of opera at CSU, hopes the

department will be on par with the opera programs at UNC and CU.

Despite lack of help from the school, CSU Opera puts on a full

production with four showings each year.

“Even though we don’t have a lot of money, the acting and vocal

talent is incredible,” said Travis Risner, who sings baritone this

month in “Trouble in Tahiti.”

Following the performance of students, the aria auction began,

in which professors sang at the request of the audience. Many

laughs and grins sprinkled across the crowd as they were

entertained and fed Coldstone ice cream and drank fresh latte’s

from a machine humming away in the back of the room.

Sophomore music minor Aimee Chlebnik is excited about the opera

season at CSU.

“We need more people to come, so they know (who we are),” she






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