Opera director helps student find direction, performs duet
“I had always wanted to be a choir director, so I became a music education major,” said Stanfill. “But after my sophomore year, I had a really big change in my voice, and my voice teacher said I should really think about doing performance.”
It was then that he changed his major to music performance and met Markou.
“I had never really thought about opera, but Stella kept bugging me about it,” he said with a smile. “I was hesitant to sing opera. It’s scary, but I knew I could do it if I pushed myself.”
Markou believes in Stanfill’s talent so much that she included him in her upcoming recital and tapped him as one of her duet partners.
The recital – “A Night Celebrating Opera’s Epic Heroines!” – will begin at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29 in the Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.
The pair will perform “La ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s 1787 opera “Don Giovanni.” The song, which is Italian for “there we will give each other our hands,” is a duet for the characters Don Giovanni and Zerlina. Giovanni attempts to steal Zerlina away from her soon-to-be husband.
“Chris is a very talented lyric baritone,” Markou said. “He is ideally suited for the role of Don Giovanni through the power and artistry of his rich voice and stage charisma.”
Stanfill said he’s very excited about the opportunity to perform with Markou. He played the father in Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” last year, but this will be his first duet.
“This song is perfect in my range, so technically the music is not very difficult, but it’s everything else – the acting, movement and stage presence,” he said. “I have confidence. but I just have to not let myself get in the way of myself. It helps knowing Stella believes in me.”
In addition to the duet with Stanfill, the recital will feature the UMSL Opera Theatre, soprano Shermayne Brown and Alla Voskoboynikova on piano. The performance is free and open to the public.
“My recital is honoring a distinguished company of femmes fatales, spanning the spectrum of queens, country-girls and courtesans,” Markou said. “I am celebrating, through a musical journey, epic heroines with an unabashed and unapologetic dedication to love.”
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