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Week of 14 December 2001 · Vol. V, No. 17


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SFA mezzo-soprano hits a high note with Metropolitan Opera's new season

By Brian Fitzgerald

"I can't believe it," says Sandra Eddy. "I'm still pinching myself." Is this a proper attitude for a music professional, even one who has been chosen to sing for the Metropolitan Opera? Still, one can understand a college student feeling a little giddy at the prospect of working with the premier opera company in the United States.


Sandra Eddy in last year's SFA Opera Institute production of Postcard from Morocco. Photo by Vernon Doucette


Beginning Thursday, December 13, Eddy (SFA'99,'02), in her second year at the School for the Arts Opera Institute, will sing four roles during the Met's 2001-2002 season: Countess Ciprano in Rigoletto, the Dragonfly in L'Enfant et les sortilèges, the Third Servant in Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Handmaiden Number Three in Sly. She will also be covering three roles in Lulu, and one performance of Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly.

"It is a rare honor for Boston University, or any school, to have a student get such a contract," says Susan Ormont, a teaching associate in voice in SFA's School of Music. "She is an extraordinary talent, and a very hard worker."
Then again, big things have been expected of Eddy ever since she won an aria/concerto competition as an undergraduate at the Boston Conservatory, where she acquired a bachelor's degree in music education in 1994. She also opened some ears when she won a competition at the Opera Lirica of Orvieto Musica in Italy, a three-week performance workshop for talented students.

The accolades kept piling up at BU, where her operatic roles have included Dinah in Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, the Page in Strauss' Salome, Nancy in Britten's Albert Herring, the Foreign Singer in Argento's Postcard from Morocco, Second Witch in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Tieresias in Merriman's Antigone, and both Anna I and Anna II in Weill's Seven Deadly Sins. The professors at the SFA Opera Institute "are so invested in how their students are progressing," she says. "They have a good work ethic and high professional standards. They let you know that you had better learn the music quickly, and thank God for that, because now I feel that when I go into a rehearsal, I'm as ready as the next person."

Eddy credits Ormont with helping her switch from soprano to mezzo-soprano -- which is between soprano and contralto -- because of the "color" of her voice. "My voice lives in the middle, but I do have to have a good top and lower register as well," she says. Ormont says that when listening to a student sing, a teacher "must listen to all the ranges and select the part that resonates the most beautifully. Sandra's vocal transition actually began with her previous teacher, and Sandra and I both agreed that mezzo-soprano was the way to go."

After seeing her Sesto in last year's SFA production of La clemenza di Tito, Boston Globe music critic Richard Dyer wrote that Eddy "sang and acted with the blazing conviction that recalled the coiled-spring intensity of the young Tatiana Troyanos."

And like the late mezzo-soprano diva, Eddy was shy as a child, but always drawn to music. Even when she joined the choir at St. Ann's elementary and middle school in her native Somerville, Mass., she was a bit modest about her voice. "At first I didn't audition for solos -- until I got a little more guts," she says.

An experienced choral director, Eddy especially relishes teaching children how to sing. She was a guest conductor for the New Jersey Children's Choir Convention in 1996 and musical director of the Casablanca American School in Morocco through the International and Domestic Educational Programs in 1997. From 1997 to 2000 she was the director of the Handel and Haydn Society's Treble Ensemble in Boston. "That involved teaching 62 high school girls on Saturday mornings at Boston Latin School," says Eddy. "I really miss that. I would be beating myself up all week rehearsing, mumbling, 'Oh, this needs work. That needs work.' I was tired, but then I'd see the thrilled looks on the girls' faces. They were so excited, and I'd tell myself, 'This is what it's all about.' Unfortunately, I'm going to have to put that on hold for a while."

Even after grueling rehearsals with the Metropolitan, she is managing to find the time and energy to return to the Treble Ensemble on Saturday, December 15, as a guest conductor. After that, the kids are going to have to get along without her for a while, because she goes back to New York to sing with the best operatic talent in the world.

"Sandra has all the characteristics of a person who is destined to have a major opera career," says Ormont. "Her voice has an extremely lush sound with a unique timbre. She has great flexibility as well as a beautiful legato. She is also very charming on stage and has a magnetic quality that audiences are drawn to."

After seeing Eddy as Kate Pinkerton in the Boston Lyric Opera's production of Madama Butterfly in October 2000, Dyer wrote in the Globe that she "has future star written all over her." He may just be right.


14 December 2001
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