By Kayla Matzek
Mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade danced around her protégés offering enthusiastic feedback on their voices and technique, accompanied by virtuoso piano playing.
“Any excessive emotion, that’s where it comes in, because you got nothing but emotion to the rest of the aria,” said von Stade as she stopped student Kelly Guerra mid-song for constructive critique.
Von Stade, who the New York Times called “one of America’s finest artists and singers,” this week mentored opera students at the UC Santa Barbara Music Department’s “Guest Artist Masterclass.” Musical selections were chosen from famous arias such as “Werther! Qui m’aurait dit…Ces lettres!” from Werther by Jules Massenet and “Largo al factotum” from Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.
As one of the music world’s most beloved figures von Stade has worked with every leading American opera company, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, and San Francisco Opera.
Kelly Guerra, a Doctor of Musical Arts student, and Byron Mayes, a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts student, brought their best work for von Stade to critique, as professor John Ballerino performed as collaborative pianist.
Mezzo-soprano Guerra, who was recently praised as a "standout" by the Wall Street Journal for her performance at the Tanglewood Music Center as Mrs. Doc in Leonard Bernstein’s A Quiet Place, was vibrantly mentored by von Stade on her presentation of Charlotte in the aria “Werther! Qui m’aurait dit…Ces lettres!” from Werther.
Von Stade then energetically acted out the scene “Largo al factotum” from The Barber of Seville with baritone Byron Mayes singing as Figaro. Mayes received his bachelor degree in vocal performance from Columbus State University and is a former member of the Opera Santa Barbara’s Chrisman Studio Artist Program.
Kayla Matzek is a third-year student at UC Santa Barbara, majoring in Writing and Literature in the College of Creative Studies. She is a Web and Social Media Intern with UC Santa Barbara’s Division of Humanities and Fine Arts.