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Teen to sing in 'La Boheme'

The 15-year-old will also be in a summer opera camp.

Published June 10, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - With only five days to get an audition packet to Walnut Hill School, Emily Barnash threw together a DVD after school one day, with the help of a friend.

"I didn't think it was that great, " said Barnash, 15.

Admissions officials at Walnut Hill disagreed.

"Emily's ability and experience ...was viewed as very impressive for her age. She comes to the program with a lot of experience and a good command of her voice. She clearly has a lot of potential within this program and for her future, " said Walnut Hill director of communications Matthew Barone.

On the merit of her taped audition, Barnash will attend the summer opera program at Walnut Hill School in Natick, Mass.

Barone said only 16 spots were available for the summer program, and applications were submitted from all over the country and a few from abroad.

During the three-week program, students will receive lessons in vocal training and opera history before heading to Europe for a production of Candide at the world famous La Scala opera house in Milan and The Barber of Seville in Verona.

Michelle Rego, music director at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg, said that when she first met the young singer, Barnash, at about age 10, already showed promise. "It was obvious she had an exceptional talent, " she said.

Rego referred Barnash to voice teacher Mary Kay Wilson.

"I really questioned whether or not to take someone so young, but the moment I heard her, I knew she was an unusually gifted singer, " Wilson said.

Both Rego and Wilson said Barnash works tirelessly at her craft.

"The voice is unusually mature for someone so young, but she's also such a bright student in that she never comes unprepared, " Wilson said.

"The thing about Emily is she's like a sponge. I only have to tell her something once and she just absorbs it, " Wilson said.

Barnash of St. Petersburg said she started singing opera about four years ago. "When I was younger, I wasn't into it, because I didn't think it was very cool, " she said.

But now?

"It's a lot more difficult. I love the challenge, " she said.

Barnash was scheduled Friday to begin performing with the children's choir in La Boheme at the Palladium Theater.

Barnash said Broadway tunes used to be her favorite, but that she enjoys opera because, "It's all about the voice."

The rising sophomore at St. Petersburg Catholic High School said she's looking forward to her first trip to Europe and wouldn't want to spend her summer any other way.

"I found opera and I love it, " Barnash said.


If you go

'La Boheme'

The St. Petersburg Opera Company and the FloriMezzo Orchestra will present Puccini's La Boheme at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg, at 2 p.m. today and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets are $15 to $75. Call 822-3590.


[Last modified June 9, 2007, 20:44:37]

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