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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Alexandra Coburn at 12:37AM
Elena Galván's headshot

Opera soprano Elena Galván didn’t always know she wanted to be an opera singer.

 

Instead, she fell into it.

 

Galván studied both Music Education and Vocal Performance at Ithaca College. Both of her parents were musicians and professors at Ithaca College, so she knew she wanted to go into music. Later in her college career, she auditioned for the opera on a whim. She made the cut.

 

“My voice went through a change, and I fell in love with it,” she remembers.

 

Her opera awakening opened the door to summer programs in Italy, one of the opera capitals of the world. After becoming infatuated with both opera and Italy, she decided to study further in graduate school.

 

But the main perk of being an opera singer isn’t just the opportunity to perform iconic roles in front of hundreds and hundreds of people. For Galván, what she really loves about opera hasn’t changed much since those summers in Italy.

 

“My favorite part is the travel,” she says. “It’s been seven or eight years that we’ve been on the road.”

 

While trekking from state to state, Galván does Young Artist programs with different opera companies. So far, she’s been with companies from Florida to Minneapolis and even back to Ithaca, with many other places in between.

 

“You have to get used to living out of a suitcase,” she explains. “Now we [Galván and her husband] are guest artists. It’s been nice this year to have a home base. You kind of get to live like a local and do what you love for a living.”

 

Living out of a suitcase and road-tripping for a living isn’t easy, though. For it to stay enjoyable, Galván offers one piece of advice.

 

“You have to love the process,” she says.

 

But opera isn’t just traveling and performing. Like most artistic careers in this age, the success of any opera performer weighs heavily on their ability to market themselves.

 

“More than any other focus in music, it’s ever-changing,” Galván says. “Back in the old days, you didn’t have to do all the nitty gritty. You had managers. Our generation is more about self-starters.”

 

This modernization of opera public relations goes hand-in-hand with the modernization of the art form itself. According to Galván, many innovative directors use settings set by the libretto, but transport the story into a different time period.

 

“It’s a fun thing to play with if it doesn’t get in the way of plot and characters,” she says. “You know the characters, but then you have a modern twist, even just changing the art of the piece.”

 

One modern twist that performers like Galván experience is performing for new audiences, ones that might not be drawn to opera otherwise. As a film festival, FLEFF takes opera and presents it to a diverse audience, filled with opera newbies, opera experts, and everyone in between.

 

“I remember FLEFF when I was in school,” Galván recounts. “They did a lot of concerts in the music school. The theme ‘geographies’ fits well with opera, because there are so many languages and so many countries.”

 

While she couldn’t disclose all of her secrets, Galván provided a glimpse into what’s in store for the opera performance of FLEFF 2018.

 

“There will be ambient pictures behind us,” she reveals. “It’s an operetta, so not super serious, but light and fun... It will be a lot more interactive.”

 

While Galván has traversed the globe performing opera in some of the hottest cities, there’s still one opera must-do left on her list.

 

“I want to die dramatically on stage,” she laughs.

 


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