LAS CRUCES — A New Mexico State University student has the opportunity to travel to Austria this summer for a month-long intensive dive into voice, acting, language and performance coaching for budding opera singers.
Priscilla Gandara is a music education major at NMSU who plans to graduate in December. Although Gandara is now determined to pursue a musical career, she didn’t start singing until her junior year of high school at Coronado High in El Paso. Before that, she was in the soccer team.
However, Gandara’s football days came to an end when she suffered a third concussion.
“I had this meeting with my adviser to see what option I would be on rather than football because I couldn’t be in it anymore, and I told her just to put me in anything, that I I didn’t care,” Gandara said. . “She put me in the choir, so it was like fate, I guess. And then I joined the choir and I loved it, I fell in love with it.
She started singing in a choir in her freshman year, but said she didn’t really start taking music seriously until her senior year. Her teachers at the time encouraged her to participate in solos and ensembles where students perform in front of judges and get feedback on their musical acumen.
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And even then, Gandara said she didn’t know she wanted to study music in college until the day she signed up for classes.
“My big dream is to be able to play…in an opera company, that’s the dream,” Gandara said.
She said the first opera she ever saw was “Tosca” by Giacomo Puccini. A touring company performed at the Plaza Theater in El Paso. Witnessing the drama and brilliance of the performance, Gandara said she was hooked. It was what she wanted to do. She added that one day she would like to play Tosca, who dies a tragic death.
Wanting more operatic experience, Gandara said she sought advice from her voice teacher, Eike Gunnarson. She directed Gandara to several programs, including the Austrian American Mozart Academy in Salzburg. But because Gandara has only been taking singing lessons for four years, compared to other students who have been training for more than a decade, she said she wasn’t sure how she would be. the height.
“I kinda expected to come in, but only like to be the background character or something. But I came in and got a full role,” she said.
Students from all over the country will travel to Austria in July where they will take part in singing, acting and German lessons as well as master classes and coaching from professionals. At the end of their month-long stay, the group will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ or ‘The Marriage of Figaro’.
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Gandara will play the role of Marcellina, a woman determined to marry Figaro.
The program plus travel, accommodation and other living expenses will cost approximately $6,000. Gandara has been working and teaching private voice lessons to help defray the costs, but she still needs help. She created a GoFundMe page for donations. Her church, St Paul’s United Methodist Church, hosted a reception for her and donated several thousand dollars to her page.
Gandara said she would continue to work and rehearse throughout the summer, preparing for her trip. The flight to Europe will be his first time on an airplane and performing in “The Marriage of Figaro” will be his first full opera performance. There are a lot of premieres to come, but Gandara said she’s excited to mingle with other musicians and get the full experience.
Her family is also happy for her. Many of her extended family hadn’t heard her sing until her senior recital at NMSU’s Atkinson Recital Hall recently. She performed 14 pieces, including a duo and ensemble piece.
“I wish I could take them with me, put them in my pocket,” she said.
People can donate money for Gandara’s trip online at https://www.gofundme.com/f/austrian-opera-summer-trip-2022.