Opera singers visit, perform in Quintana Roo
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 22:08
This summer two ASU students traveled south of the border to participate in OperaMaya, an international opera festival in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Michelle Byrd, a music education major of Pine Bluff, and Erin Reagan, a vocal performance major of Mumford, Tenn., participated in master classes, seminars, performances and traveled across the Mexican Riviera, all while staying in two luxury resorts, the Grand Bahia Principe and the Moon Palace.
Part of the OperaMaya experience is also living and working alongside international students.
“There were people from Germany, Poland, Mexico, Guatemala, all over,” Reagan said.
In an email interview, Marika Kyriakos, associate professor of music and instructor of the two students, explained how a typical day at OperaMaya included yoga, master classes and voice lessons with professors and professional performers from all over the world.
Byrd participated in a master class with a teacher who was signed on with the New York City Opera Company, and Reagan’s professor just finished writing a Broadway musical.
They continued their work into the night, performing their art with a live orchestra.
Byrd explained some nights they would do scenes from operas and perform arias. Other nights the girls would travel around the Riviera to sing, including Cancun and the Adonis Tulum resort. This prepared the students for the show that ended the festival, the Gala Day Opera.
“I got to sing ‘O mio babbino caro’, which was the first time I got to sing with an orchestra,” Reagan said.
In between all the singing and performing the girls still found time to enjoy what Mexico had to offer, such as the Mayan ruins and Playa del Carmen.
“Their culture is so friendly, and everyone is so up close and personal,” Byrd said.
“The Mexican people are all so nice. They’ll kiss you on your cheeks and they’re so lovey-dovey,” Reagan added.
The Mexican culture and OperaMaya left a lasting effect on Byrd and Reagan. Byrd has been inspired to continue with performances and pursue a minor in Spanish. For Reagan, it solidified her choice to be a music education major.
“When you become a professional opera singer you practice seven days a week,” she said. “I’m more okay with being famous in a small town and teaching as my job and performing as a hobby.”
Both girls voiced their gratitude to the host of professors, staff members, and others who helped raise the money for them to go. “We held a benefit concert at Chancellor Hudson’s house and it opened the door for us to do this,” Reagan explained.
“Dr. Marika Kyriakos got us the last chunk we needed,” Byrd added.
“She worked her butt off to make this happen for us, and we owe her the biggest thank you ever,” Reagan said. “It was an unforgettable experience.”