Future opera stars train at UNR

RENO, NV (KOLO) - Thirty-five students are warming up their voices.

The humm fills the room.

At direction of opera singer and teacher Dolora Zajick, they learn to properly position their jaw, and the subtle pronunciation of vowels.

It hurts the ears, vibrates the skull, and challenges the mind as to how such a sound can be made by the human voice.

Multiply the sound by these students who alone could fill the room with their singing, and it is really something special.

But it’s not without effort.

“If you do it right, it is not tiring on the throat,” says Casey Dakus a student at the institute. “But your muscles in your body especially your support muscles, they are going to be really drained. So you can feel that from everybody. Everyone is like super wiped out after a long day of singing,” she says.

Dakus and the other students were chosen by referral or audition through a website to gain entrance into the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices.

For the past four years, they've come to UNR for three weeks of intensive training to strengthen their voices.

But to also learn German, Italian, French, English Diction, rhythm, and acting.

There is plenty of one-on-one coaching.

The teachers are world renown and encourage the students to push themselves, and recognize where improvements need to be made.

“I think, in my opinion, it is so important to study. But also to rest. It has to be a balanced,” says Antoni Lliteres, a student who came to Reno all the way from Spain.

This isn’t for singers who, while have great voices, only appear in choruses.

Rather they have the big voices which these days in the art, are hard to come by.

Zajick explains it this way: "It is a special program that is designed to train opera singers with unusually large voices even for opera singer,” says Zajick. "And so what we do is we look for these freaks of nature and then we nurture them so they can have important careers,” she says.

Zajick says it takes ten years to get these students to where they need to be musically, dramatically, physically, and intellectually to take the stage and command it on their own.

This institute gets them one step closer to be that self-assured under the spotlight.

Click here for more information on when the group will be performing at Bartley Ranch, or to make a donation.

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