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July In Italy

Great Falls Madeira student heads to Rome for prestigious month-long opera program.

When Sarah Glaser, 16, came across the description for the Operafestival di Roma summer program on the University of Virginia Web site, she knew instantly that she wanted to audition.

“I went on a school trip to Italy last year and we were there for about a week, and I absolutely loved it, so when I heard about this program I knew that I wanted to go,” said Glaser, a Great Falls resident who will be a senior at The Madeira School next year.

Glaser auditioned for the competitive program in February in Washington D.C.

“It was a little nerve-wracking, only because it’s a program for college students and I’m in high school, but I also love performing, so it wasn’t too bad,” said Glaser.

Glaser was auditioned by a jury of national judges and was ultimately selected from among a large pool of candidates. She is among the youngest Operafestival participants, as the program is primarily geared toward college and post-graduate students pursuing music careers — of the 50 students accepted into the program, less than 10 are in high school. For the program, Glaser will be joining the ensemble of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Puccini’s Suor Angelica.

PERFORMANCES of the Operafestival take place in the courtyard of the Palazzo della Sapienza in the heart of historic Rome and are regularly televised and broadcast by Italian National Radio and TV Network (RAI).

“I’ve only seen pictures,” said Glaser of the spectacular venues where she will be performing.

Opera Festival di Roma is a non-profit educational organization which recruits and supports students and professional musicians for the summer festival.

The month-long program begins in July and the participating musicians adhere to a rigorous daily schedule that includes classes in Italian diction and opera, individual private lessons and master classes with a guest faculty of prominent artists. The participants also form an opera company that performs an opera, as well as chamber and symphonic music concerts in Rome, accompanied by the International Chamber Ensemble Orchestra.

Glaser, who leaves this Saturday, June 30, will also have the opportunity to perform a solo recital at the Anglican Church S. Paolo entro le Mura, located in central Rome.

“I can’t wait to go,” she said.

GLASER HAS been studying voice since the second grade and has performed at the Kennedy Center in the Washington National Opera’s summer program, World Children’s Choir programs and with the children’s choir accompanying the Kirov Ballet in their production of “The Nutcracker.” As a student intern at the Fillmore Arts Center, Glaser has worked with Washington D.C. youth to develop their interest in the arts.

She has also sung leads in several musical theater productions at The Madeira School, and in local community theater shows. Glaser appeared as Peter Pan in Madeira’s school musical production of “Peter Pan,” and she performed in featured roles in a number of community theater productions as part of the cast of Sterling Playmaker’s “Sound of Music” and the Community Alliance Supporting Theater (C.A.S.T) production of “Annie.” Glaser said she does not have a preference when it comes to different types of singing.

“I’ve been classically trained since I was young, but I do all of the Madeira musicals, and I really like doing musical theater just as much as opera,” she said.