Sydney’s Letter

Dear Carmela,
When you were casting people for La Serva Padrona, I don’t think I ever would have thought how much that one meeting would change my life. Before that, I was an unhealthy belter, I barely had any technique, and to sing opera seemed like an unattainable goal. But now, not only is that the complete opposite in my perception, but it’s my main passion! It was really fortunate that I met you, because had I not, my vocal chords would be in shreds! I would have had no career!

Singing now comes naturally for me. Whenever I sing, it lifts my spirits, and the technique resonates through my body like I’m standing in the waves of an ocean. It’s gotten me noticed by scholarships, contests, and competitions, been my ticket to Italy, and the main source of my income! Even though I’ve come a long way, I still have a long way to go. Your voice lessons make me feel like I can do anything! I’m always eager for the lessons, and after I leave, I listen to the recordings nearly every day, in the hopes that I can get my voice to that sweet euphoric place I reached with your help in the lesson.
Sure, anyone can belt, but it takes a lot of practice to become an opera singer. I hope to one day perform as Floria Tosca, or Adele, or Nedda. Maybe I’ll be a coloratura one day and sing in one of my favorite operas of all time, Die Zauberflöte! But I can’t do it without your help. Your lessons get me to push aside any limits I give myself, and do things I’ve only ever dreamed of doing…especially that high E-flat!
There truly is no one like you in the academic or singing world. While I had a great time in Florence, Italy last summer and learned a lot of Italian language and vocal technique, the way they taught me was very inhibiting. It took away the joy of classical music that is, until I started studying with you again. I wasn’t able to find any teachers I wanted to study with in more than thirteen college visits this fall – or that were even satisfactory at their job! So, I’ve decided to take up Art History with a Dance minor at the college I will be going to. However, I am obviously going to continue studying with you! As one could imagine, the tuition fee will be taking quite a toll on my family’s wallet and there’s no way I want to stop studying with you! It’s important for my developing career and voice to keep going to you. The scholarship I received from you and the Agnes Varis Foundation was extremely helpful for all of us.

I don’t think that opera is a dying art form at al. It is young people like me and my friends that keep forwarding it, and even though it evolves and goes into different incarnations, that’s only because society does too. I hope to be one of the next great innovators of opera!

— Sydney T. Harris —