The arts can send you on a journey, open the heart, mind and soul and see where it can take you. My journey began at age seven, when I first got introduced to singing. A few years later, in addition to my singing, I also taught myself piano which, as you can imagine, wasn’t easy. It took many nights and days of practice, and some frustrating moments to really learn how to get my fingers to flow through the keys. My passion for it stayed strong though. I continued to perform up until my junior year of high school, when the music program was cut due to budget restrictions. This upset me but it didn’t stop me. I used perseverance, commitment and motivation to make the most of the opportunities presented to me and continued to study music on my own. I sought out opportunities to perform the National Anthem at sports events at my school, as well as being nominated to speak and sing in front of 700 people at the Scholar Athletes Gala in Boston. Being one of the few seniors interested in music, my career specialist offered me the opportunity to be a part of the Bloomberg Arts Internship where high school students learn more about careers in the arts. After applying, I was led to being placed at Boston Lyric Opera.
Before I got to BLO, I thought- “Why am I here? Am I going to be bored?” I did not know what to expect and honestly, I thought opera was just for “old people.” However, learning more about opera has taught me that you need to be open minded and that it is a powerful genre of music. Working closely with each department has shown me why the arts are important from many different perspectives.
One of the departments I worked with in my internship was Community Engagement. During that week, I read responses of fourth graders who had participated in “Create Your Own Opera” school partnership with BLO this past school year. They really enjoyed it! Some kids were really nervous at first and thought that opera was boring , but when they got to write their own and perform it themselves, it made them proud of their work. This summer I was able to observe the children at Opera Camp. I got to see them making their own costumes and props, which showed their thoughts about how the characters would look. Turns out making your own opera can teach children to be more creative, expressive, knowledgeable, and more confident with their emotions.
I also worked with the Events department to plan a free outdoor concert at Magazine Beach in Cambridge. I created program sheets for the audience and set up the sound for the concert. One of my jobs was to hand out program sheets to BLO fans, but I was so captivated by the performance that I forgot what I was doing! There was a singer in the performance named Omar, who is a tenor, and his high notes gave me chills. Watching the facial expressions of Felicia, the other singer who is a mezzo-soprano, made me believe that she was really in love, and that made me super happy. After watching them, I now sometimes practice opera notes in the shower.
Overall, this internship has influenced my plans for the future. Music has always been my passion, but working for BLO has made me realize that music is something that I want to learn even more about. It motivated me to take choral music as one of my classes at Roxbury Community College this coming semester. It has also made me want to volunteer for BLO in the future. I am really looking forward to seeing BLO’s first production of Pagliacci! Becoming familiar with the story and seeing the set for the show has made me more excited to share this experience with others in the community.
I learned that opera is more than just singing, it can send out a message. The orchestra sends out the vibes, the powerful singers send out their emotions.. When I was first listening to opera, I could literally feel the pain and the joy of the singers. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the language they sing in, just pay attention to their voice, their costumes, and their facial expressions and you’ll understand everything. My perspective has drastically changed and I now know that opera, much like other arts, is for everyone, you just need an open heart, mind and soul.
Thalia Cruz was a Blomberg Arts Summer Intern with Boston Lyric Opera from July to August of 2019. She will be attending Roxbury Community College in the fall.