Though opera might not be as popular of an art form with undergraduates as film or theatre, it still draws notably talented singers to Harvard. A recipient of the Radcliffe Doris Cohen Levi Prize for talent, energy, and enthusiasm for musical theater, Bridget P. Haile ’11, combines her talent with humility and a strong work ethic, and has been an impressive force on the Harvard opera scene for several years.
Haile is a native of Columbus, Ohio, and she first began performing opera with a group called Opera Columbus. “I started doing stuff with them in middle school, and in the seventh grade I was in a production of ‘The Magic Flute,’” she says. Her passion for singing has not waned at all over the years, and she has done numerous shows at Harvard, including the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players’ “Iolanthe” and “The Sorcerer,” Harvard Radcliffe Summer Theatre’s production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” and, most recently, Dunster House Opera’s “Die Fledermaus.” She also sings in the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, a critically acclaimed mixed chorus for undergraduates, and the Harvard University Choir, Harvard’s only paid chorus, which also mixes both graduate and undergraduate students.
Other students who have worked with Haile are impressed by her diligence and her magnetic personality. “Bridget is my favorite person to work with on campus,” says Sofia M. Selowsky ’12, who has worked with Haile in several productions. “She is a great singer and actress, and she makes you want to perform to the best of your ability.” Matthew C. Stone ’11, a Crimson arts editor who directed Haile in “Die Fledermaus” and “The Rocky Horror Show,” wrote in an email that Haile puts both time and effort into her roles. “Bridget is an incredibly hard worker in every way,” he writes. “She’s always totally prepared and knows her music, lines, and blocking inside out.” Stone also notes Haile’s positive attitude. “She’s always incredibly pleasant in the rehearsal room, and she puts an incredible amount of thought and effort into her character work. She’s someone who brings a lot of spontaneity and life into the rehearsal process because she’s such a naturally fun, vibrant person.”
Though opera stars are often known to be divas, Haile breaks this stereotype. Her colleagues describe her as both hardworking and humble, and she takes inspiration from the artists around her. One of her favorite things about the Harvard opera scene is that it gives her an opportunity to meet other talented students. “The nice thing about Harvard is that you don’t just mingle with people who do what you do,” she says. “There is a lot of overlap between artistic communities.” She feels that opera exemplifies this overlap because demands a wide range of talents. According to Haile, this translates on campus into a collaboration between some of Harvard’s most talented artists. “For example, some of the musicians for Dunster House Opera are the best musicians at Harvard,” she says.
Opera might be Haile’s first passion, but it is by no means her only one. She is an English concentrator who is especially interested in poetry. “It’s really easy to pigeonhole yourself, but I’ve really tried to broaden my horizons” she says, crediting Harvard for helping her do so. “One thing I didn’t know I was into before I came here was poetry,” she says, before jokingly adding “although I’m no poet.”
Haile plans to continue her opera career after graduation. Next year she will be entering a two-year graduate program at the New England Conservatory to study voice, and this summer she has tentative plans to travel to Salzburg to take part in a student repertory program connected with the Salzburg Festival.
“Above all, I am an opera singer. This is how people will remember me,” said renowned singer Luciano Pavarotti. Unlike him, as Haile leaves Harvard, she may not only be remembered as an opera singer, but also as the hard-working and inspirational person that her colleagues describe her to be.