GRAD Alumni Research Award 2017 Recipient: Camilla Tassi, Digital Musics

The Dartmouth Graduate Alumni Research Award is funded through the generosity of alumni of Dartmouth graduate programs. Every school year, graduate students can apply for funding of up to $1000 to support their thesis research. 

This past summer, I was awarded a Design & Production and Stage Direction Assistantship for the 2017 Arezzo Opera Festival. The month-long festival—located in Arezzo, Italy, and run by Oberlin College, as the 'Oberlin in Italy' initiative—was a wonderful opportunity to direct, produce, and coach Italian operatic works in Italy alongside professionals in the field.

Thanks to the generous support of the Dartmouth Alumni Research Award and with the encouragement of my faculty advisor Chair of the Digital Musics Department Michael Casey, I was able to travel to Italy this summer as well as prepare the materials for my position as both scenes director and assistant director to one of three full-length productions. Teaching the craft of opera to performers ages 17-40, coaching Italian diction, and staging were all part of the process. The program attracted over 40 performers from the U.S. and Europe.

As a graduate student in Dartmouth's Digital Musics program, my research focuses particularly on the re-contextualization of early/classical music to a modern audience, both in directing/producing them and in incorporating mixed media as a projection designer. Therefore, as assistant director for the baroque opera "Serse" by G.F. Handel, I took part in staging the work in the Italian city's Piazza della Badia, bringing opera to found spaces beyond the traditional concert hall. During the process, I was working under director Alegria Ferrer, music faculty at the University of the Philippines, Diliman campus.

For the scenes concert in the Teatro Petrarca, I prepared and staged five scenes from five different operas assigned: Le Nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte (Mozart), Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti), La Bohème (Puccini), and La Cenerentola (Rossini). It was an honor to be one of two student-age directors; each of us had the opportunity to direct scenes individually and work with performers of varying background and expertise.

As a music graduate student, being able to put my skills to concrete practice, which resulted in public performances throughout the city, was an invaluable experience. Working under professional directors such as Scott Skiba and Candace Evans, as well as collaborating with young professional accompanists and conductors, is an opportunity that cannot be replicated in the classroom. The experience not only expanded my repertoire, but allowed me to continue directing and producing projects here at Dartmouth, with my most recent project being Carissimi's Jepthe featuring the Dartmouth Glee Club at the Hopkins Center for the Arts' Spaulding Auditorium during the winter term.