Palm Springs Opera Guild, one of the longest-standing cultural institutions in the Coachella Valley, has partnered with the Palm Springs Unified School District to offer an inaugural youth outreach program called OPERAtunity, a intensive opera workshop aimed at teenagers who are serious about a career in the performing arts. The workshop began January 10 and runs for ten days. At the conclusion of the workshop, the participating students will offer a performance on Sunday, January 21 at 2 PM at the Helene Galen Performing Arts Center, located at the Rancho Mirage High School, 31001 Rattler Road in Rancho Mirage, California. While the performance is free, tickets to the pre-show brunch and Q&A with the creative artists, are $50 and may be purchased from the Opera Guild office by emailing or calling 760-325-6107.

“OPERAtunity is a natural rounding-out of our existing successful outreach and education programs,” said Bruce Johansen, Opera Guild President. “It is a pilot program that will reach high school students at a critical point in their education and lives and offers the opportunity to work with arts professionals to learn what a career in opera might be like.”

OPERAtunity is a classical vocal training program for 15 qualified high school singers from the Palm Springs Unified School District. The workshops are college-level and are aimed at career preparation for students interested in exploring a career either as singers, or in the administrative world of classical music. The students will will work with a stellar team of creative artists and singers to get a unique insight into the nuts and bolts of opera. Composers Michael Ching and Craig Bohmler, together with soprano Amy Shoremount-Obra, will lead workshops on the business of opera, performance techniques, writing and composition. Singers Ben Lowe, Nathan Van Arsdale, and Andrew Eisenmann will deliver vocal lessons and rehearse the students.

During the workshop, students will be assigned at least one solo piece and one ensemble repertoire that will introduce them to the concepts and techniques inherent to classical vocal performance, including breath support, diction, practice/time-management, stage presence, historical context, and modern developments.

Throughout the workshop, students will work one-on-one with the professional staff preparing for a showcase at the end of the program which will include scenes from Michael Ching’s comic opera Speed Dating Tonight. This amusing work tells the story of a single hour in the lives of a group of people experiencing speed dating for the first time. It takes place in a local restaurant and includes colorful characters like a car sales person, origami designer, realtor, techies, and an over-the-top cat lover. Love at first sight, as well as two exes running into each other, are just two of the comical and romantic moments. The students will learn and perform this modern-day opera over the course of 11 days.

In addition, the workshops will include interactive sessions with the students on a new work by Michael Ching that will premiere in 2019 and one student will take part in the Palm Springs Opera Guild’s Quartetto performance at the Rancho Mirage Library on Wednesday, January 17.