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
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
“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