State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

A State College Native Is Performing at The Metropolitan Opera, and You Can Watch from The State Theatre

by and on March 07, 2018 5:00 AM

When State College native Sarah Shafer steps onto the stage at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, Centre Countians will have the opportunity to experience a local performer’s interpretation of a Babylonian princess from a 19th century opera.

On Saturday, The State Theatre will present “Semiramide,” Gioachino Rossini’s ambitious drama, in high definition, live from the Met.

“It’s really exciting,” Shafer said, “I’m just so thrilled to be singing at the Met.”

As a 9-year-old, Shafer began singing in Nittany Valley Children’s choir under the direction of her mother, Lou Ann Shafer. Her father, Timothy Shafer, a professor of piano at Penn State, also encouraged his daughter’s musical focus.

“I always knew I wanted to pursue music,” Shafer said. She holds a bachelor’s degree in voice and a master’s in opera, both from Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. From there, she launched a career that, thus far, has included performances in Britain, Hungary, California and Texas. The addition of the Met to Shafer’s list of venues packs even more prestige on to her reputation for vocal mastery. “It’s a small role,” she said, “but the music is very beautiful.”

The plot involves a Babylonian queen, the princess Azema, played by Shafer, suitors, a high priest, an army commander and a missing prince. It incorporates lightning flashes, intrigue, a ghost, plenty of pageantry and the kind of vocal acrobatics well-known in Rossini’s work. Unlike a lot of opera composers, Rossini used catchy melodies and infectious rhythms. His pieces demand more of the vocalists than of the audience. So, even those who may not flock to operatic performances will find this one enjoyable, particularly with Shafer’s presence.

New York Classical Review had this to say: “As the comely Azema, object of three princes’ affections, Sarah Shafer sang her few lines prettily with a firm vocal core in her Met debut.”

The stage at the Met uses no microphones, and it stretches over 3,000 feet, so any production has a lot of space to fill. And, singers need to make sure those in the back of the 3,800- seat house can hear them.

To ensure the strength and quality of her voice, Shafer follows a routine structured to support healthy lungs, as well as robust vocal chords.

“I have to be careful of what I eat,” she said. “I stay well-hydrated and I exercise to make sure I can breathe freely.”

And, of course, she practices singing every day. The HD broadcast will give her the chance to share the results of this discipline with her hometown.

“This production is very beautiful and elegant,” Shafer said. “The singers are all stunning in how talented and skilled they are. The whole thing is just breathtaking.”

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Ann is an Arts and Entertainment correspondent for the Gazette.
Next Article
Visitors Bureau Offers Tourism Grant Opportunities for Local Nonprofits
March 07, 2018 4:30 AM
by Geoff Rushton
Visitors Bureau Offers Tourism Grant Opportunities for Local Nonprofits
Disclaimer: Copyright © 2020 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

order food online