Sarah Luebke

Sarah Luebke

Nebraska native Sarah Luebke completed her MM in vocal performance at the University of Kentucky, and her BM in vocal performance at St. Olaf College. Recently she has been seen performing the female lead, Jane McDowell, in "The Stephen Foster Story" and the ensemble of "Big River" with Stephen Foster Productions. Other performances include the soprano soloist of Bach's St. John Passion, La Fee in Massenet's "Cendrillon" at the Intermezzo Opera Festival, Najade in "Ariadne auf Naxos" at the Brevard Music Festival, Monica in "The Medium", Rose Maybud in "Ruddigore", and Fiordiligi in "Cosi fan tutte". She currently resides with her husband in Florida, teaching a studio of 40 students and auditioning and performing locally.

Robert Stuart Thompson’s Italian language learning text, Operatic Italian, promises to become an invaluable textbook for aspiring operatic singers, voice teachers, coaches and conductors.  Pulling operatic libretti from Mozart to Verdi, Thomson introduces the student to word-for-word translation, grammatical concepts, and the natural pronunciation and cadence of the language, while unfolding this intricate language in a practical and applicable manner.

Thomson’s main premise for using libretti as source material is that the language of the libretto is filled with literary, poetic and old-fashioned vocabulary devices.  The current language learning paradigm found in university language courses aims to teach the student vocabulary and grammar to survive and thrive in that particular modern country.   Basic themes include food, travel, and paying for a bus ticket.  While practical information for the average Italian learner, music students would be hard-pressed to find an opera entitled Dovè la mia valigia? with which to apply this knowledge.

Operatic Italian is well organized and direct, introducing each libretto example with it’s corresponding musical score, IPA translation, English word-for-word translation, and marked accents for atypical words.  Thomson’s goals for the student are to 1) recognize parts of speech 2) understand verb tenses and their functions 3) develop an understanding of grammar peculiarities found in literature.  Chapter topics of particular interest to the music student include pronunciation and developing an Italian accent, understanding what is lost in translation from Italian to English, what to appreciate in libretti, and Dante’s influence on Italian literature (opera libretti included).

Operatic Italian would make a fantastic textbook for a conservatory or university where opera students are required to develop a working knowledge of this language.  This text also would serve as a fantastic source for seasoned musicians or opera-lovers to deepen their understanding of the language from a literary standpoint, and bridge the gap from their rudimentary knowledge of Italian to a fuller understanding of the richness and depth found in classic Italian literature.

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60607384.redshoeSome of you may have seen the Boston Globe article last December about a Boston University voice teacher who had allegedly embellished career milestones on her personal bio, which had been posted on the university’s website and published in university programs and brochures.  For a look at last month’s article, click here.

It can be tempting to write a bio that you think prospective students or even your colleagues want to read.  Some voice teachers I met rank their past performing career as paramount in their bios, without much mention of their current career as teacher.  For some of these teachers, it has been 15 or 20 years since their performing career, and you wonder where the information about their teaching is hidden.   And, like Prof. Daniels and Boston University, you may take what little information there is on your career, and put it in an obscure if not totally truthful light.

As teachers who are always peddling their business to prospective students, it is important to write a bio that is honest, which fully discloses your qualifications as well as your accolades in the field of teaching.  Here are a few tips on how to write a compelling, yet truthful biography.

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happy-new-year05As the year draws to a close, most studios will be turning their attention to tax time.  But there’s a lot more you should do before turning the page to 2010.  You’re already reviewing your books and crunching the numbers to get ready for next year.  It’s the perfect time to do a little checkup on where your business has been and where it’s going.  Remember the old adage: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  Here is a checklist of important things you should do before closing out the business year. [···]

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