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 Shannon Kessler Dooley - 2003 Winner  

“The confidence Artist Presentation Society showed in me gave me the confidence to prepare a very challenging recital and to move forward in an operatic career.” - Shannon Kessler Dooley

Shannon Kessler DooleyShannon Kessler DooleyShannon Kessler Dooley, Soprano
Shown here in performance with The Pittsburgh Opera

 

2012 Interview with Shannon Kessler Dooley 

Q: Can you tell us a bit about what was going on in your life when you became an APS winner? What impact did winning have on your career?
A:  I had taken a year off between my undergrad at Webster and grad school. My teacher Carole Gaspar (an APS winner in 1963)  suggested I do the APS competition. Winning was a great boost of confidence! I had applied to three graduate programs and had only gotten into one - New England Conservatory. Moving to Boston and starting school was a big adjustment. I found myself not liking Boston much, and having nothing to do in the opera department at school. The recital that I gave for APS the year after I won gave me something to work on and towards with my teacher and coaches. I was also looking forward to being in St. Louis and singing with my pianist Donna Bowen Vince again.

Q: Where has your career taken you since 2003? Are there any projects that you're currently working on that you'd like people to know about? 
A: After finishing grad school in 2006, I did a few young artist programs. (These programs are paid internships that are designed to help bridge the gap between school and the real opera world.) I worked for Utah Opera, Ash Lawn Opera, The Santa Fe Opera, Tulsa Opera and Pittsburgh Opera, all in their young artist programs. This takes us up to 2011. My last year at Pittsburgh I got a manager, Peter Randsman, with the help of my boss and some colleges at Pittsburgh Opera. Since my time with him I have done Fidelio with Utah Opera and Carmen with Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. Coming up in 2013 I will be covering two roles at The Metropolitan Opera in New York and singing a Mozart Requiem with the Asheville Symphony. 

Q: How do you think modern audiences are responding to classical music? Are their expectations different from when you started? 
A:  I think there are diehard opera fans that love the classics done in a classic way, but there is a younger generation coming to opera, and I think companies and directors have a hard balancing act finding things to appease both the young MTV generation and the traditionalist. The HD broadcasting that is happening now I think is great because you can see opera for cheaper - even for free if you wait and watch it on PBS. These broadcasts also allow people that might not have access to an opera house to see great works, be exposed to and maybe fall in love with the art form.      

Q: What would you tell young performers hoping to make classical music their profession?
A: For the younger generation coming up into the business I will repeat what Carole Gaspar told me years ago:  "Serve the music and it will serve you."  I might add that it might not happen on your time frame, or how you think it is going to, but if you have the talent and the drive it will happen.  

Q: How does APS fit in to this evolving landscape?
A: I think APS serves a great purpose, because as an opera singer I rarely have the chance to work on song literature, and it is so important. Unless you are a big opera star like Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson or Renee Fleming you never get to give recitals and they are stressful, but in the end very good for your soul.  

For more information about Ms. Dooley, please visit her website at www.shannonkesslerdooley.com

 

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