November 06, 2020

What is a Master Class?

If you ever wondered what exactly a master class is, you are not alone.

To those who may not be familiar with the concept, master classes exist across many artistic mediums, and consist of an expert in a particular field sharing knowledge and guidance with a participating student. At Lyric, master classes are available to the members of the Ryan Opera Center and and within Lyric Unlimited, Lyric's area that supports learning and creative engagement initiatives. Classes tend to be led by world-class operatic artists like Renée Fleming, Ana María Martínez, Ryan McKinny, and Music Director Sir Andrew Davis. While both departments work with students and artists of all ages and levels of experience, one thing remains the same: Lyric is committed to cultivating the next generations of opera singers and music performers.

Soprano Ana María Martínez leads a master class with schools part of the Vocal Partnership Program during the 2019/20 Season. 

Opera master classes reveal to students the technical skill, creativity, and thought process that is practiced by some of music's leading artists. They work to demystify and make accessible the elements of opera performing that may seem magical or nearly superhuman. In practice, master classes typically follow a format in which a student sings an aria, and the experienced artist offers them notes and advice on how to make it better.

In the case of Sir Andrew’s video series, audiences watch Lyric’s music director as he coaches Ryan Opera Center singers on selections from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Music-loving viewers get a glimpse into what exactly goes into the telling of a story in opera. By witnessing this creative interaction firsthand, audiences can become more in tune with the nuances of performing. Opera requires extraordinary craft and artistry, and performers at every level hone and fine-tune their techniques over the course of their careers.

Sir Andrew Davis coaches first-year member Maria Novella Malfatti as she sings the role of Susanna as part of Lyric's Master Classes with Sir Andrew Davis series.

In the words of legendary opera singer Maria Callas, whose own philosophy of teaching was at the center of playwright Terrence McNally’s Master Class, “Good teachers make the best of a pupil's means; great teachers foresee a pupil's ends.”

Here at Lyric we see what greatness our students and artists of every age and every stage of development are bound to achieve. We invite you to watch Sir Andrew Davis’s master-class series and see for yourself.  

Good teachers make the best of a pupil's means; great teachers foresee a pupil's ends.

Maria Callas

Master Classes with Sir Andrew Davis: Episode 1 (Ricardo José Rivera & Katherine Beck)

Photos: Kyle Flubacker