BY MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Tami Grove still can recall competing in one of Michigan’s top student voice competitions back in high school.
Now two of her own students are competing in the 20th annual contest for high school classical and opera vocalists.
Soprano Marin Tack and baritone Logan Dell’Acqua are two of four area students selected as finalists in the Italian Songs and Arias Vocal Competition for Michigan High School Students sponsored by the Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan. Both are seniors at Traverse City Central High School where Grove is choral director.
“The folks who run the Verdi Opera are all of Italian descent so they’re
looking for students who really know how to pronounce Italian and sing in Italian,” said Grove, who was a finalist in the 1999 competition. “For that reason alone it’s a difficult competition. They’re looking for the most authentic presentation.”
Sage DeAgro-Ruopp is hoping to give the judges just that when she and the other finalists compete in the “Concert of the Finalists” May 4 at the Italian-American Cultural Center of Clinton Township. The soprano, a senior at Interlochen Arts Academy, spent last summer in Italy to learn the language and music of the country. She plans to return this summer.
“Italian is my favorite language to sing,” said DeAgro-Ruopp, of Traverse City, an Old Town Playhouse veteran of about 40 shows. “But this is definitely nerve-wracking, especially when you’re singing for native Italians because they’re so picky.”
Tack, of TC Central, hopes to top her second-place performance in last year’s competition with renditions of Tosti’s “Luna d’estate” and Handel’s “Piangero la sorte mia.”
“The Verdi is a good way to make connections with people and to learn and grow as a performer,” said the singer, who has sung leading roles in Central’s musicals and plans to study voice in college. “It also is a fun experience and I always enjoy performing classical repertoire.”
Both Tack and Dell’Acqua study privately with Traverse City voice coach Jayne Sleder, as does soprano finalist Ella Bruining, a senior at Traverse City West Senior High. DeAgro-Ruopp studies with Scott Skiba at Interlochen Arts Academy.
The four area students are among 10 statewide finalists in the singing competition.
“This is a big deal,” said Sleder, who last year coached four of seven local finalists. “The ladies wear gowns, the guys wear tuxes. People buy tickets to this concert. For the winner it’s a $1,000 check in their pocket, and what kid doesn’t like that? A lot of the kids have gotten computers for college with it, and that’s huge.”
Former winners now perform with opera companies around the world including New York’s Metropolitan Opera and Milan’s La Scala.