Houston’s Indra Egan is stepping up to a very prestigious music summer training program.
The second-year University of Manitoba music student has passed a three-stage audition in November and will attend a six-week training program in May called Opera NUOVA that culminates in the production of three operas and a musical.
“Working in the music world as I do and studying in the music world, Opera NUOVA is like everyone wants to get in and it’s constantly being talked about,” said Egan.
This is the first year Egan applied for the program and she got in.
“They only take a handful of pianist from across the country,” said Egan. “So basically what they do is they go to all the major Canadian cities in every province and the hold auditions.”
During the auditions, she faced tough competition.
“There would have been people competing who were in Master’s programs, people who have completed graduated from school and they would have been from all over. I know personally people who auditioned from McGill, from UBC, from U of T,” said Egan.
At the auditions, Egan had to prove herself by playing a couple of pieces with a singer and she had to sight-read fluently.
“You also have to play an excerpt from an opera in the audition and you have to actually sing all the parts of the opera at the same time while you play, so that they can see whether or not you would have the skills to coach an opera which involves not only playing the music but also coaching the singers on how to sing it,” said Egan.
“Basically, when you’re the pianist for an opera, you are not just going and playing the piano. That’s why the audition is so intense, because it involves what’s called ‘vocal coaching’, which is also training the singers in diction.”
Egan elaborated that “diction” referred to accurate pronunciation of words in various languages. She also needed to make sure her singers needed to have the “right notes and phrasing.”
During the six-weeks starting May 21, Egan will spend six-days-a-week, 12 hours daily, training in Edmonton.
“The training program is working on those shows,” she said. “You have six weeks to put on these four shows. It is very intensive. So it’s basically learning-through-doing, which is what makes it such a good program.”
“I will be working on all four of the shows but my primary assignment is an opera called La bohème by [Giacomo] Puccini.”
Egan feels very excited about performing La bohème.
“I’m very excited for it,” she said. “It’s an opera that I went to see a long time ago when I was very young and I’ve always been very passionate about, because it came to Prince George actually about 10 years ago, so one of the first operas I’ve ever saw.”
For Egan, this program represents a step in her development as a musician. She hopes to get a Master’s in collaborative piano in the future.
“If I keep learning at the rate that I have been for the last few years, that would be an exciting place to be in a few years.”