College of Charleston Opera Workshop explores “What If”

Above: Meleana Cabales, far left, rehearses with her castmates for the upcoming ‘What If’ opera workshop showcase.


Life is made up of many moments and decisions that lead to the next. But how would things have turned out if we had made a different choice, taken a different direction, decided to pursue another opportunity in a different city? Charleston College Opera explores the power choices can have to shape our lives with the “What If” showcase, featuring popular selections from opera and musical theater that represent the hard work and perseverance of student-performers.

With works by Richard Strauss, Gioachino RossiniGeorges Bizet, and Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, among others, “What If” gives voice students the opportunity to practice what they’ve learned. “What If” is part of an opera workshop course that prepares these students for future productions.

“This annual stage project prepares them for the larger productions we do at the Sottile Theater and in schools in the Lowcountry for children’s opera,” says Saundra DeAthos-Meers, opera director and assistant singing teacher. “They are able to practice walking, singing and playing at the same time before having to do it on a larger scale.”

With a blend of opera and musical theatre, “What If” connects the student-performers’ personal stories to the choices and actions of show characters such as Carousel and Don Giovanni. A total of 16 CofC students will perform large ensembles, trios and duets.

“’What If’ challenges audiences and performers to think about how the butterfly effect can influence our lives,” says DeAthos-Meers. “What if a different choice had been made? “What If” gives College voice students the opportunity to answer this question through their lived experiences and their music. »

Sandra DeAthos-Meers leads the students as they rehearse a scene for the “What If” showcase.

Performances will be at the Chapel Theater at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, November 11, 2022 and at 2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 12, 2022. Tickets, which can be purchased online through the George Street Box Office, are $10 for CofC students; $15 for faculty and staff; and $20 for adults.

college today spoke with an Honors College student Meleana Cabalesa major vocal performance and Minor in Arts Managementabout his passion for music, preparing for this show and his hopes for the future.

When did you discover your passion for singing?

I was introduced to classical voice when I started taking freshman lessons in high school. It was a new experience that deepened my passion for music and made me realize that I could sing through college and beyond. My choir and voice teachers introduced me to a wealth of musical opportunities, so I dove in and never looked back.

Have you always liked to sing?

Music has always held an important place in my life. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are listening to the radio in my dad’s car or watching my mom play the piano. It was a natural progression for me to get involved and sing along. I joined my first choir in second grade and have loved singing ever since!

Are there any major influences that guide your personal style or technique?

There is a lot to learn and even more people to learn. For this reason, I try to listen to and watch a wide range of opera singers and productions. I also change things up so I don’t get stuck mimicking other people’s techniques and choices. Even though I have my favorite singers, I want to become my own artist and make my own decisions.

What kind of preparation is involved for a workshop-style performance like “What If”?

Rehearsals are very important when it comes to this program because of its collaboration. Everyone is responsible for learning a few scenes from a musical or opera, in addition to the full company chorus numbers. A decent amount of work also needs to be done outside of rehearsals. Learn your role in the rehearsal room, translate foreign lyrics, practice your directing, etc. If everyone prepares individually, the end product of the group will be much more coherent.

What is your favorite song that you will perform in “What If”?

My favorite song we perform is “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” by Carousel. This ensemble act is entertaining throughout, with various props and spoken lines. As a member of the choir, you have the freedom to make choices within the persona you have created for yourself. It’s great fun reacting to what other people say and do! Not to mention that the music makes you dance.

What kind of music do you listen to for fun?

I like a lot of different genres! It really depends on my mood. I listen to opera and classical music quite often, but I also like alternative/indie, nostalgic pop and Japanese rock. I’ll give just about anything a chance.

Do you plan to continue singing in this genre in the future?

I would like to sing opera professionally in the future. I feel most fulfilled being on stage and telling a story through powerful music. I also see myself working behind the scenes on the administrative side of the arts industry.