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Opera is part of vocal music’s spring lineup

Melodramatic torture, murder and suicide will be intertwined with Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s best-know lyrical arias when Holland High vocal music students attend the April 29 dress rehearsal of Opera Grand Rapids’ spring production, “Tosca.”

“This is a great opportunity for students to experience opera without having to pay $30 to $90 per ticket,” said Sarah Cox, director of Holland High choirs.

Cox attended her first professional opera in a similar free-for-students dress rehearsal while she was a high school student in Palatine, Ill.

Vocal music students won’t even have to pay for transportation to the event, thanks to an Activities Account fortified by a departmental fundraiser and “Tune Travel Thru Time,” the Vocal Dimensions’ show in March.

To prepare students for “Tosca,” Cox brought to class two singers who will be appearing in the opera, bass Jeff Teerbolt and mezzo soprano Sarah Faase.

Like Cox, Teerbot and Faase are members of the Holland Chorale.

The vocalists performed and talked to choir students about how singing can be an enriching experience throughout life.

Teerbolt and Cox, a soprano, also sang the duet from the Gershwin musical “Porgy and Bess” that they will be performing during Tulip Time, “Bess, You Is My Woman Now.”

Cox said she has been very impressed by her students of late.

“Tune Travel Thru Time” improved incrementally throughout its four-show run. What’s more, students decided to dedicate one song in the program, Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You,” to classmate Sean Hill and his family. Hill, a trombone player in the school band, died unexpectedly the week of the show.

Vocal Dimensions will reprise “I’ll Be Seeing You” in “Dazzle,” a ticketed Tulip Time revue on May 5.

Nine of the 16 members of Vocal Dimensions are also auditioning for solos and duets in that production, Cox said.

Vocal Dimensions have also been selected to perform both the American and Dutch national anthems for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the Tulip Time Board of Directors on May 6, the day of Tulip Time’s Governor’s Luncheon.

Cox is promising only the first of the 15 stanzas of “Het Wilhelmus,” however. (She’s sung the Dutch anthem as a member of the Hope College choir and the Holland Chorale, but wants to pare it so the performance is equivalent to “The Star Spangled Banner.”)

Auditions for Concert Choir and Vocal Dimensions for the 2015-2016 school year are being held the week of April 13.

The week before spring break, high school choral groups went on a whirlwind tour of Holland’s K-7 schools. These concerts inspire younger students to become part of the vocal music program, Cox said.

There was also a luncheon performance at Resthaven’s The Warm Friend retirement home, where the honored guest was student Collin Grose’s grandmother, Pauly Housenga, an ardent Vocal Dimensions supporter.

On April 23, the 8th and 9th grade choir, the concert choir and Vocal Dimensions will perform during the Spring Senior Recognition Concert at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.

All graduating seniors who have been part of the vocal music program for four years will be individually recognized and presented with a Varsity blanket embroidered with their name.

Seniors in the choir program have chosen to perform Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” during graduation ceremonies June 1.