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USD Opera Shares Hope

Opera singer performs at the University of South Dakota

As vaccination rates increase, more events are open to the public. The University of South Dakota took a creative way to share opera with the public by having an “Opera Pop Up” in public places around Vermillion.

Between classes Students stop and sit in the grass to listen to the first live performance the USD opera has had in months. Community members also gather in front of Slagle hall as they are drawn by the sound of harmonizing voices. Performers take turns singing, accompanied by a small orchestra. A crowd grows from dozens to nearly a hundred. 

Tracelyn Gesteland is the director of the USD opera. She says it was wonderful to hear the students singing together again.  

“For our USD opera folks... we basically had our final memory check for the gondoliers last spring in March and then everything, as you know, just shut down and we couldn’t have that production. And then basically we had not been back together as a company until a couple of weeks ago right at the end of the semester.” 

The performance included highlights from a variety of solos and duets by composers like Mozart, Handel, and Puccini. There was an atmosphere of friendliness as people gathered together for the first time since the pandemic started.

Gesteland says she knew this performance would be important, not only to the students, but to the vermillion community as well.

“It was actually quite an emotional time getting everyone back together again and during our first rehearsal I had tears in my eyes. I saw some of the other people as well. It just was so joyful to be able to come together and make music in a group setting again in that way. So, I know that our students have really appreciated the opportunity to have these live performances and our community members as well, judging by the comments we’ve been receiving from our concerts have felt that was as well.

“There has just been comments like, ‘it was uplifting.’ ‘It made me feel wonderful.’ ‘I cried.’ One of my favorite comments was from someone after a performance who said, ‘I haven't had a lot of good days and thanks to this, this was a good day.’ It is so fulfilling to know that we are making a difference.” 

The crowd gave a standing ovation as the performance came to a close. The USD Opera went on to perform in Sioux Falls sharing their voices and leaving audiences with hope.