Liv A. Redpath ’14, an English concentrator in Pforzheimer House, is an active member of Harvard’s opera community. Redpath sits on the board of the Dunster House Opera (DHO) and is a lyric coloratura soprano. She has played many lead roles in shows at Harvard, including Rose in “Ruddigore,” Cunégonde in “Candide,” and Susanna in ”The Marriage of Figaro.” She even learned some Cyrillic for a Russian opera. Redpath shared her take on opera as a genre, the opera scene at Harvard, and DHO’s current plans for their upcoming production, “Cinderella.”
The Harvard Crimson: So how did you get involved with Opera Singing?
Liv A. Redpath:
When I was in seventh grade, my mom made me join a kids choir that was transitioning to be the children's chorus of the Minnesota Opera. I then moved up to their high school group the next year. They put on an opera each year, and when I was in eighth grade it was “Hansel and Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdinck. I auditioned and was cast as Gretel. I remember I was so nervous that the first night I got my score, I actually read through it three times! Initially I said I would do opera only for a year because I wanted to be in musical theater. However, since then I’ve changed my tune.
During my high school years, I spent most of my Saturdays with Minnesota Opera doing various training programs, main stage productions, and opera productions with their education program. I also worked at the Minnesota Opera's High School Camp this summer at a boarding school. I had been to that camp when I was in high school, and it was great to go back and be an intern and coach kids.
THC: What competitions or shows have you participated in?
LAR: In junior year of high school, I participated in the Classical Singer Magazine’s national high school competition. I got second place, which set me up well for going to college. I had done a lot of competitions in my state before, but this was the one that I felt really validated me. In freshman year of college, I did a competition called YoungArts through the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, too. It was really fun. We flew down to Miami in January for the competition and I was a silver winner. They subsequently took us to New York later in the spring to do some outreach programs and interdisciplinary performances encompassing dance and short story writing to create a collaborative piece.
THC: Why do you like opera?
LAR: I think as an art form opera is very striking. Opera is so seamless in its format and so epic as an art form that it takes the audience out of their element in a refreshing way. It is so out of this world that it is almost more accessible because you are entering a different reality. I think you go to the opera in the hope of seeing someone that makes you excited about the performance, which is lost in a lot of other art forms. It is exciting to go and not know what you are going to get out of the performance.
THC: What is your favorite Opera?
LAR: My favorites are: “Candide” by Leonard Bernstein, “Falstaff” by Giuseppe Verdi, and “Rake’s Progress” by Igor Stravinsky.
THC: What is Dunster House Opera’s next performance?
LAR: This weekend we are in callbacks for Jules Massenet’s “Cinderella.” There will be six big female roles, and Prince Charming will even be played by a woman. There are a lot of talented women on campus and it should be really interesting.
THC: What are ways in which the current opera scene engages the students on campus?
LAR: I love the idea that [the opera scene] is all about collaboration and learning from other people. We have people in small roles who have never been in an opera before performing at Harvard. For me, it’s also really fun to hear that my friend, a senior, will try [it out]. This is the kind of outreach that should be done because once people are in an opera their perspective is totally changed on what it is to know the genre.
I love being a classical singer here at Harvard too. There aren’t a lot of us here, but it’s been a wonderful experience to work with everyone, from the people at Dunster House Opera and Gilbert and Sullivan to the Lowell House Opera. It’s been fun to work with peopleoutside Harvard as well, through Lowell House Opera--
including the up-and-coming conductors and stage directors who are further along in their training.
—Staff writer Claire P. Tan can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.