Songs of Love: An Afternoon of Opera at the Mount

photo of Crowne, Crowne, and Simpson
(left to right): Scott Crowne, Leah Crowne, and Nicholas Simpson, photo courtesy of Susannah Scully

On Sunday, September 14, Mount Saint Mary’s University held an afternoon concert of operatic duets at the Delaplaine Fine Arts Center, featuring soprano, Leah Crowne, tenor, Nicholas Simpson, and pianist, Scott Crowne. The two up and coming opera stars sang duets from the great operas of the late romantic era. Ms. Leah Crowne serves as a faculty member at the Mount and Gettysburg College.

Leah Crowne, originally from Buffalo, New York, currently resides in Frederick, Maryland with her husband, Scott Crowne. She teaches music at Mount Saint Mary’s University and she started studying voice at 20 years old. She fully committed to a career as a professional opera singer at the age of 26. “It was a big commitment,” she said.

Nicholas Simpson, originally from Kansas City, Missouri, has lived in New York City since 2007 and also teaches at Southwestern University. Simpson noted that he did not begin his formal music education until graduate school. He originally graduated college with a degree in Spanish language and literature. He remarked that this goes to show what you plan on majoring in college, may not end up being your life path.

This opera duo shared the same voice teacher, causing them to meet. They both work for the Mediterranean Opera Studio, located in Italy, which teaches a variety of levels of experience in the realm of singing. Mount students can sign up to visit the Mediterranean Opera Studio, as well as enthusiasts and any other interested parties.

Crowne and Simpson shared their experiences teaching and living in Italy for the Mediterranean Opera Studio, first stating that “The food was incredible.” They also remarked on how interesting it is to immerse yourself in Italian culture.

“You live life in that language and develop a special eye into the language and how you sing. You watch beginners grow. It’s truly life-changing” Simpson remarked.

Crowne spoke highly of the program, stating that it “teaches you how to care for your voice throughout your whole life – how to care for your vocal chords and how to keep your voice youthful-sounding throughout your entire life. At the Mediterranean Opera Studio you’re able to take advantage of the old master singers while they’re still here.”

For example, Crowne and Simpson spoke of the great Italian operatic tenor, Salvatore Fisichella, who they worked with while in Italy. Despite the fact that he is 71 years of age, they praised  him, saying that he is still as great as ever. Simpson remarked that Fisichella teaches the beginners and completely outshines everyone there, despite his age.

In terms of their favorite pieces to sing from Sunday’s program, each singer remarked that everything included is a collection of their favorites. They sang pieces from Die Walküre, Tosca, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Il Trovatore, Macbeth, and Turandot, all by composers, including Richard Wagner, Giacomo Puccini, Richard Strauss, and Giuseppe Verdi. Crowne added, “I have done the role of Turandot before, which was the final duet in the program. I understand that role thoroughly.”

Crowne urges Mount students to get involved with the Mediterranean Opera Studio. Dr. Andrew Rosenfeld, Chair of the Mount’s Visual and Performing Arts Department, is recruiting people to join the Studio and would love to see more people sign up for this unique opportunity.

For more information, contact Dr. Rosenfeld at ARosenfe@email.msmary.edu. You may also contact Leah Crowne, who teaches at the Mount, at Schenck@gettysburg.edu. To learn more about the Mediterranean Opera Studio, visit www.mediterraneanoperastudio.com.

Susannah Scully

Staff Writer for The Mountain Echo

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