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Strings, Symphony, and the Stones: Brava, Diva

A five-part series on the year’s musical performances

Click above to play the slide show featuring Denyce Graves.

It’s safe to say that music plays an integral part in student life — just look at all the pedestrians sporting iPods on Commonwealth Avenue. But stepping inside the College of Fine Arts for a moment shows that at BU music is also serious academic business.

Throughout 2006 and 2007, students have taken part in, and been exposed to, a multitude of musical opportunities, ranging from a performance of Berlioz to a study of the Rolling Stones. This week’s series remembers five of them. Click here for Monday’s story, "Rising: CFA students master Mahler’s Resurrection for Symphony Hall." Click here for Tuesday’s story,  "Stones Soup: Students make the Rolling Stones’ music their own." Click here for Wednesday’s story, "Virtuoso-in-Residence: Legendary pianist Menahem Pressler opens series at CFA today." Check back tomorrow for “Berlioz’s Requiem Revealed: Conductor Andrew Litton on BU Symphony’s April 10 concert.”

Brava, Diva
Denyce Graves shares art and advice at the Opera Institute

By Vicky Waltz

The rich mezzo-soprano voice of Denyce Graves has brought her fame in the world’s greatest opera houses and concert halls. Graves, whose signature role of Carmen has been critically acclaimed, led Boston University voice students in a 90-minute seminar on December 13.

In honor of the BU Opera Institute’s 20th anniversary, the College of Fine Arts school of music collaborated with the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center to bring several opera icons to teach the institute’s annual public master classes.

The master class series allows Opera Institute and vocal performance students to perform for, and receive instruction from, celebrated opera stars. “Obtaining direct insight from these renowned artists profoundly enhances our singers’ training,” says Sharon Daniels, director of the Opera Institute and a CFA associate professor. “Great artists inspire great art-making, and personal contact is an exciting advantage.”

Graves, who recently donated her career archives to the Gotlieb Center, performed the title role in the 2005 world premiere of Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner. Written specifically for Graves, it is considered by many to be the singer’s tour de force. She most recently sang the role of Judith in Duke Bluebeard’s Castle at the Washington Opera.  

Graves’ master class took place Wednesday, December 13, at the Tsai Performance Center. Later master classes were taught by soprano Dawn Upshaw, on Monday, February 26, soprano Deborah Voigt, on Thursday, March 29, and mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and baritone Richard Stilwell, on Monday, April 2.

“Brava, Diva” originally appeared on
BU Today on December 12, 2006.