Inside the Utah Opera Chorus: Part IV
Our Inside the Utah Opera Chorus series continues as our way of saying thank you to our wonderful and supportive patrons. We hope you enjoy the unique insight these members have provided as they explain, in their own words, what it means to them to perform for you.
In this post, we would like to introduce you to Mandi Barrus.
How long have you been in the Utah Opera Chorus (number of years and if you know number of productions)?
This is my second season with Utah Opera Chorus; Turandot is my fourth staged production (sixth production if you count Deer Valley performances).
Tell us your favorite production or something unique that you’d like to share?
I have enjoyed every production with Utah Opera thus far; Florencia en el Amazonas (Jan 2013) was particularly exciting, as I was two weeks away from giving birth to my daughter when we opened. It was fun to incorporate my hugely pregnant condition into the character and color of the scene.
What does it feel like when you perform in a crowded theatre?
When we finally get a live audience, they add something magical to the mix of vocal music, staging, costumes, orchestra, and tech elements that we’ve been working on for weeks and months. I get an energy from them that defies description. Since I was a child, I’ve been more comfortable singing in front of a theatre full of people than singing for an intimate handful. There’s something great about being able to be large in one’s gestures, loud and highly emotional, and have it be acceptable. That’s what singing for an opera audience makes me feel–accepted in my emotional vulnerability, portraying big musical feelings that the people watching are dying to experience with me. It’s a great trip.
We work hard to put on a great piece of art, and once we get the audience right there with us, breathing through every moment, that’s our artistic payday. Those are the moments that feed our souls.
What is your current occupation?
I currently wear many hats; during the day I stay at home with my three children, two boys and a baby girl. In the afternoons, I run a business teaching private voice lessons and group voice classes from home. In the evenings, I perform–mostly with Utah Opera and Hale Centre Theatre in West Valley. In the past, I have taught private voice, group voice, and voice masterclass on a university level.
Will you elaborate on your training in music?
I hold a BMA in Vocal Performance from Brigham Young University-Idaho. I have plans to pursue a Masters in Voice from either the U or BYU in 2015.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
This is my third year living in Utah with my husband and children, and I am enjoying the cultural scene and artistic opportunities. We moved here from Idaho.