I’m writing two posts this morning from one of my favorite places: Princeton, New Jersey, home of the CoOperative program created and run by the brilliant teacher Laura Brooks Rice. I come back here every summer and it always energizes and refreshes me. The students here are not aiming at a prize or a job; this program concentrates on how to build their instruments and deepen their musical and theatrical arsenals. I sometimes think of it as us giving the answers away to a test.
Laura puts together a remarkable faculty – this year the coaching staff included Eric Weimer, Susan Ashbaker, Howard Lubin, Tom Bagwell, William Hobbs, Joan Dornemann, Craig Rutenberg, Eric Rieger, and Hemdi Kfir, and the dramatic/movement coaches included Paula Suozzi, Stephanie Sundine, Gina Lapinski, Nova Thomas, Mark Moliterno, and Sean McCarther. Hanging and teaching with those colleagues? Yes, please! We dive in and work on repertoire for three weeks. It doesn’t happen in a bubble – the participants sing for the likes of Ken Benson, and the faculty’s ties to the opera industry are significant. But Laura has de-cluttered the atmosphere here. Somehow, it feels more possible to work for work’s sake, even as the goal is entry into the world of professional singing.
As you can tell, I’m a fan.