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Alumna debuts in Puccini’s Tosca

Jennifer Woodward ’08 had planned to focus her college career on studying science. Then she reignited her passion for music, thanks to inspiration from Randolph College’s music professors.

Woodward’s enthusiasm hasn’t waned since graduation. She recently made her operatic debut in a production of Puccini’s Tosca, singing the part of a shepherd with New England’s oldest opera company, Lowell House Opera in Cambridge, MA. Performances ran in late February and early March.

“I was really thankful I had that love [of music] renewed in me again,” said Woodward, who holds a B.A. in music. She credits the College with propelling her to where she is now, a graduate student in the Master of Music Degree in Opera Performanceat the Longy School of Music in Cambridge. “I definitely wouldn’t be doing this if I hadn’t gone there and gotten that opportunity.”

“Jenn was kind of one of our stars. She did really well,” said Randall Speer, an associate professor of music at Randolph whom Woodward described as one of her mentors. “She was one of these students that were perpetually curious. She always wanted to pick my brain about something.”

Speer described Woodward’s soprano role in Tosca as a “fabulous opportunity for her. I couldn’t wish better for her. She’s getting her feet wet.”

The themes in Tosca range from political intrigue and love to lust and murder. At Lowell House, the fully staged and costumed performance was sung in Italian with projected English translations.

“It’s a smaller part comparatively,” Woodward said. “But it’s a good four or five pages of complete solo work with the orchestra. It can be a difficult part to sing, so it’s pretty exciting to have that opportunity.”

Just as important to Woodward are the professional connections that come with working for a renowned opera company like Lowell House.

“When you do well at Lowell house, it’s a foot in to the companies like Boston Opera Collaborative and Opera Boston, the larger companies that are internationally known,” she said.

Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Woodward has performed with the Key West Symphony Young Artist Program in Key West, FL., the Asolo Art Song Festival in Asolo, Italy and at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France and Westminster Cathedral in London, England. She has given recitals in South Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Maine and performed with the Charleston (SC) Symphony and Lynchburg Symphony orchestras.

Ultimately, Woodward said she would like to sing for both opera and musical theater. She’s also in the process of creating Bella Diva Vocal Studio, a non-profit enterprise aimed at exposing younger singers to opera and theater through education and scholarships.



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