University of Southern Mississippi voice student Melanie Gardner will present a benefit recital at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg to raise money for her participation in Operafestival di Roma, a prestigious opera program in Rome, Italy, this summer.
Gardner, a master’s student studying vocal performance, has been invited to sing the lead role in Puccini’s opera “Suor Angelica.” The award-winning Operafestival di Roma (founded in 1995) is a non-profit educational institution that offers opportunities to musicians from all nations to study and perform opera in Italy in July.
"Excitement doesn’t begin to describe what I am feeling,” said Gardner. “Singing has always been my passion, and now I get to sing the title role in an opera by one of my favorite composers - in Rome, Italy. I still can't believe this is happening. I am overwhelmed by the support and well-wishes I've received from my family, friends, and the university.”
Roles are cast based on competitive auditions held in cities all over the United States, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., as well as in Hattiesburg. “Suor Angelica” will be sung in Italian and will be produced in the historic church S. Paolo entro le murain central Rome.
The Jan. 29 recital will feature arias and art songs by Debussy, Schumann, Strauss, Dvořák, and Puccini. Gardner will close the program with the famous aria “Senza mamma,” from “Suor Angelica,” to give the audience a taste of what she will be performing in Rome. Performing the recital with her will be Pablo Sotomayor, a doctoral student studying piano performance at Southern Miss.
A student of Southern Miss Associate Professor Maryann Kyle, Gardner has a long history of performing in Hattiesburg. She most recently appeared on stage as Mrs. Potts in Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera’s production of “Beauty and the Beast.” She also performed in “Always…Patsy Cline,” “Buddy, the Buddy Holly Story,” “Grease” and “The Sound of Music” with HCLO.
For more information about Gardner’s recital and upcoming trip, visit: www.gofundme.com/suor-angelica-in-rome