The one must-pack item for any summer program

The one must-pack item for any summer program

Jenna Simeonov

Right up there with a toothbrush, a good-quality water bottle, and a solid collection of pencils, there’s one must-pack item that never fails to prove useful at a summer program: your party piece.

What’s a party piece? Basically, it’s something you can sing to entertain a crowd, with no context needed. Good examples are the Habanera from Carmen, “Quando m’en vo” from La bohème, “La donna è mobile” from Rigoletto, and even “Largo al factotum” from The Barber of Seville.

The above picks are super famous, and that’s one marker of a good party piece. They can be funny, like “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” from Pirates of Penzance, or they can be drop-dead gorgeous, like “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta” from La rondine. They can wander outside of the strictly operatic, like “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific, or “Till There Was You” from The Music Man, or “Maria” from West Side Story, or even a great version of “La vie en rose”.

You get the picture.

Party arias come in handy for all things spontaneous. You might get asked to attend an event for sponsors, where you may or may not be asked to sing a little something. Or maybe there’s an impromptu operatic open mic night, or a cast party with a piano, or simply an unexpected gig that’s more casual than a black-tie event. These kinds of scenarios aren’t generally the best time to try out your new Rameau aria, or test the waters with that great bit from St. François d’Assise. Plus, opera bosses love hearing that their singers were total hits at a donor party.

Spontaneity counts for a lot, especially in an environment that seems like it’s all about first impressions. So singers, as you pack your bags and board your flights for your summer program(s) of choice, don’t forget to add to your repertoire binder some Gershwin or some Sondheim or even some inappropriate Puccini.

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