Opera singers place second in national competition

Junior music majors Sara Cage and Deondra Bell participated in the 2018 Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition organized by the National Opera Association and took second place in the Opera Division I competition. The final competition was held during the New Orleans Convention Center from Jan. 3-7.

The National Opera Association, founded in 1955, promotes opera education through support from a community of opera educators and professionals, and organizes competition every year to promote young artists. Performers between the ages of 18 and 22 participated in the Opera Division I competition.

Bell shared her thoughts on getting second place in the competition.

“It feels good,” said Bell. “I was shocked about it ‘cause so many big schools were there. We were the only small school.”

Bell and Cage first submitted the music video of themselves singing opera online and were selected to perform in the convention. On Jan. 4, they performed Act I, Scene I of “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” The act was stage directed by Rachel Harris and music directed by Charles Effler. 




Cage explained what earning second place means to her.

“It’s important to me because I felt it was very important to be able to bring something to Southeastern, to show that Southeastern cares about the art and art is not forgotten,” said Cage. “The art is where we find comfort. That’s where we belong. The community understands us and is willing to support us to pursue our dreams of becoming music educators, vocalist or opera singers or professional musicians.”

Cage shared her experience of participating in the competition.

“We were nervous,” said Cage. “We were still thinking that we were there, that we made it. We were one of four finalists. It was very surreal, but we performed it, and we had fun. We also got to see other performances of different divisions. There were also a bunch of sessions. One of them was actually focusing on social justice within operas. We also attended another session that was about an opera that was called ‘Freedom Ride’ by Dan Shore.”

Bell shared her experience on receiving second place.

“I was shocked because people were doing foreign languages and so many things and we were doing comedy and English,” said Bell.

Cage explained how she and Bell prepared for the competition.

“I was taking lessons with Dr. Rowe to help improve my voice, improve songs,” said Cage. “I was getting ready for juries at the end of the semester, which is our final exam. We were also getting ready for the opera, and we were doing choirs. On the side, we were still making sure that we have ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ fresh in our mind.”

Both Bell and Cage began singing at young ages and have been singing opera for a few years.

Cage shared how she was inspired by Associate Professor of Voice Dr. Alissa Rowe.

“A powerful inspiration of my life was when my voice teacher Dr. Alissa Rowe put on a faculty recital,” said Cage. “I just remember listening to her and seeing her in the Pottle Auditorium stage, and thinking that one day that could be me. I was truly inspired because in the field of music, it’s so hard. There is constantly competition, and it’s a lot of stress.”

Bell feels that she needs to work even harder after participating in the competition.

“After having experienced that, I have to work now 10 times harder to try to go forward, try to do another one, and hopefully try to get first place,” said Bell.