Members of the Thomasville Music & Drama Troupe recently had the opportunity learn first-hand from a highly sought-after opera diva during a vocal performance master class.
Held Oct. 14 at the troupe’s Fred Allen building, the class featured renowned soprano Jane Thorngren, who was in Thomasville to perform in a benefit concert fundraiser benefiting restoration of St. Thomas Episcopal Church’s historic Pilcher pipe organ.
Thorngren, whose long professional career includes lead opera roles across the United States and Europe in some of the world’s premiere venues, shared her views, her techniques and some highlights of her performance career with the middle and high school students in attendance.
Four members of the Thomasville Music & Drama Troupe — Lauren Mobley, Lynsey Johnson, Austin Falconer and Drew Cavender — volunteered to sing for Thorngren, who shared her assessments and analyses of the students’ work and gave suggestions in an effort to help them improve their performance techniques.
Hearing each performer individually offered Thorngren the opportunity to give constructive critiques and work through potential problem areas applicable not only to the student performing, but also to other troupe members observing the exercise from the audience.
“It’s so important for you to really tell us the story,” Thorngren emphasized, sharing techniques of breathing and posture for singing, as well as ways to connect to the audience through expression and focus.
Following the class, Thorngren shared memories of her training and performance career from her childhood in Iowa through professional postings in Los Angeles, Europe and New York. Her career has included engagements on four continents, and she has performed with both the New York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. She has twice appeared on PBS’ “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcasts. Thorngren was invited to work with Troupe students by director Raymond Hughes, whose long friendship with the singer began when the two worked together in Germany.
The Thomasville Music & Drama Troupe has, since its earliest days, included among its mission and goals to expose its student members to professional entertainers and performers through musical theatre enrichment trips to New York and master classes and workshops with current theatre professionals in Thomasville. Recent workshops and classes in Thomasville have included Broadway and cabaret legend Barbara Cook (in conjunction with the Thomasville Entertainment Foundation’s educational outreach program), renowned Broadway veterans Scott Wise and Elizabeth Parkinson and Broadway actor-singer-dancer Tyrick Wiltez Jones.