Arts and Entertainment
|UNC Charlotte prof Carl DuPont lifts voice to prepare for ‘Carmen’|
|Opera Carolina production Jan. 19, 20, 24|
|Published Friday, January 11, 2019 9:47 am|
|PHOTO | UNC CHARLOTTE|
|UNC Charlotte voice professor Carl DuPont sings in Opera Carolina's production of "Carmen" Jan. 19, 20 and 24 at Belk Theater.|
Performing, teaching, research and travel have already filled Carl DuPont’s 2019 calendar.
Rehearsals began over the weekend for the upcoming Opera Carolina production of “Carmen,” but for the UNC Charlotte professor, class is always in session. Whether his work takes him on stage with an opera company, solo performances, or a classroom, DuPont’s profession demands constant study, something he reflected upon on The Creatives podcast as “Carmen” approaches. The four-act opera, composed by Georges Bizet, takes the audience out of Belk Theater, and transports them to 1830 Seville during its run Jan. 19, 20 and 24.
“The rehearsal process is actually the culmination of everything,” DuPont said. “There is a lot of preparation that goes into score study beforehand, into language acquisition, into character development, and looking into the history of the work, and the composer or the librettist. Ideally, everybody has done that work on their own. That kind of intensive study is probably best done on your own.”
DuPont describes “Carmen” as the “perfect” opera, as it is “perfect, even in its imperfection.”
“The opera is not what the composer saw in his lifetime, because the opera originally premiered at what we would call a musical theater house,” he said. “There were songs, but there was spoken dialogue in between. We are doing the version that has come to be standard, where the dialogues are through composed. This is not actually completely Bizet’s work, although it is mostly Bizet’s work. I say it is perfect, because there is love, there is violence, there is death, there is tragedy, there is fate, but there is also fun, there is ballet, there is a bull fight. There is this swaggering male, macho character who comes along. There is this innocent young female from the hinterlands who sings lots of high notes that are beautiful and pure. We have all of the elements that you like to see in opera. Usually it is one here or there, but in ‘Carmen’ they are just all mixed in together.”
DuPont’s detailed duties with Opera Carolina arrive on the heels of his recently published work focusing on songs composed by African Americans.
“I would like to continue to teach vocal pedagogy and continue to work on science-based approaches to singing, but I also have an interest in songs by black composers,” he said. “I would love to do a course dedicated to art, song and vocal literature by black composers.”
DuPont’s work is titled “Make the Door Open.”
“It is taken from a quote that Leontyne Price gave at a gala honoring Marian Anderson,” he said. “She said that the night that Marian Anderson made her debut on stage at the Metropolitan Opera was significant not just because was singing, but because she was there, because she had made the door open for singers like Leontyne Price. Up until that point, the stage at the Metropolitan Opera House had been preserved for white artists, or seemingly white artists only, as singers. There was a black dancer who had been on stage, but it’s an opera house.”
DuPont’s research focused on black voice teachers.
“I realized, in the academy, there’s also this space that was reserved for whiteness,” DuPont said. “It took pioneers to sort of change that mold and to challenge the idea that this art form was specifically the province of Europeans or white Americans.”
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