Faculty in the Field: Amy Pfrimmer

Faculty in the Field: Amy Pfrimmer

Pfrimmer with students in Italy

Balconi d’incanto in Gran Concerto Lirico, Urbino Italy; From left to right: AK Scott, Sarah Campbell, Professor Amy Pfrimmer, Erik Martin, Mason Gabrish, Ben Longo.

Tuesday, September 13, 2023

This excerpt was written by Amy Pfrimmer, Associate Professor of Music and Lillian Gerson Watsky Professor in Voice. Her repertoire encompasses a wide range of music, with particular focus on Romantic and 20th Century opera, oratorio, concert literature, and song.

Could any singer pass up the chance to make music in Italy? Nope!

In July, I eagerly traveled to the FIO Italia Summer Festival in Urbania, Italy as part of its Artist Faculty — teaching and collaborating on stage with young emerging performers as well as established professional colleagues from around the world.

I was accompanied by five Tulane School of Liberal Arts students, who have each sung with Tulane Opera. Each sang in the festival’s various performances — making their Italian operatic role debut singing in Italian for Italian audiences. Ben Longo (majoring in Musical Theatre and Public Health) and Erik Martin (majoring in Political Economy and Anthropology) were featured as Gaspar and Bortolo in Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera Rita; Mason Gabrish (majoring in Political Science and Digital Media Production) appeared in Rossini’s masterpiece La Cenerentola as the philosopher Alidoro; My MFA Music graduate Sarah Campbell starred as Mozart’s Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, and Anne Katherine Scott (majoring in Music Performance and Psychology) stepped in as La Cercatrice in Giacomo Puccini’s Suor Angelica.

As an Artist Faculty and performer, this festival provided me the opportunity to sing the role of Nena in Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s rarely performed eighteenth-century opera Lo frate‘nnammorato. Among the challenges of the piece was performing the opera in Neapolitan dialect, but it was this unique aspect that made these performances particularly fulfilling—and paid tribute to Pergolesi’s history as one of the greatest of the Neapolitan School of Baroque composers. Our performances led to conversations regarding a future long-term collaboration between the FIO Italia Summer Festival and one of the opera’s sponsoring organizations, Italy’s prominent and award-winning Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini.

The experience was described by festival founders Adriana Kayama and Kathryn Hartgrove as “opera boot camp, not opera spa.” Veramente! FIO Italia presented 5 operas over the course of 5 weeks. When not rehearsing or performing their roles and ensembles in the operas, my students participated in 11 master classes, 4 concerts, and 20 opera scenes—plus each student had 8 lessons, 8 musical coachings, and intensive Italian classes 5 days a week. The hands-on experience gave them new insight into the value of their own instruments. It also helped redefine their understanding and appreciation of opera, and lyric theatre more broadly.

Young performers about to break some legs

Rossini La Cenerentola men’s ensemble waiting for their entrance in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbania, Italy

Lady toasting

A toast in Pergolesi’s in Lo frate ‘nnammorato, Urbania, Italy

Performers toasting in Italy

Mozart’s Don Giovanni Act III Toast staring MFA Grad Sarah Campbell, Palazzo Ducale, Urbania, Italy