Tiffany Blake grew up in California with a “dairy lifestyle” and said that her interest in opera, which she has had most of her life, seems random and mysterious to her family.
In her first year at MU, Blake, an assistant visiting professor of voice and the director of Show-Me Opera, is working to dispel the idea that opera is boring.
The Show-Me Opera program, in which undergraduate and graduate vocal performance and music education majors participate, consists of two semesters of work.
The first semester focuses on stage exercises and includes a production of various opera scenes at the end of the course. The second semester includes a full opera performance at the end of the winter semester.
Blake said the hands-on experience that students earn in the program helps with their comfort and success levels on stage.
“The main focus is getting the kids over their preoccupation with self,” said Blake.
She said one of the most important skills students as performers need is the ability to fully express emotion without being self-conscious and to allow themselves to be “silly.” Once that happens, they can more easily communicate their characters’ feelings to the audience.
Blake said that although she is the teacher, she still has learned new things. She said that one challenge she faces is having to be flexible in her approach to teaching because each student learns differently. She said she also enjoys the combination of teaching voice and working with the opera program.
She has continued to perform since college, which allows her to put into practice what she teaches to her students.
“I love opera,” said Blake. “I love the art form, I love the music, and I love encouraging that in other people, in students and getting them excited.”