Campus: CSU Northridge -- December 17, 2004

CSUN Student Wins the Metropolitan Opera Honors

Cal State Northridge graduate music student Vanessa Douglas has won the Metropolitan Opera's prestigious Los Angeles competition and will now go on to the national singing competition as a western regional finalist.

Douglas has also received other honors recently, having performed with the Llangollen Eisteddfod Musical Theater at the Metropolitan National Council auditions, and with Frederica Von Stade in her Los Angeles appearance, "Fredrica Von Stade and Friends."

Douglas said she was pleased to win the Metropolitan Opera's Los Angeles competition.

"I did not start in opera, but in gospel and jazz," she noted. "I started out in piano performance. After my teachers heard me sing, they encouraged me to try opera. I like it because it is always exciting, different, and multi-faceted, with its language, characters, and music."

She now sings opera, and gives vocal, piano, and theater performances.

"We are very impressed with Vanessa. She is an exceptional student," said David Sannerud, CSUN assistant professor of music, voice, and opera. "Not many people can juggle being a finalist and a graduate student."

Douglas said she is enjoying her time at Northridge and learning all she can from its music facility.

"A pivotal time in my life was to work with Ann Baltz (who trains opera students at the university) who was instrumental in teaching me how to be vulnerable and give of myself in performances, without becoming empty," Douglas said. "This is especially important when a person does several performances, but you still have to have that enthusiasm and freshness."

Douglas said she enjoys performing musical theater because it helps to keep her well rounded as an artist. And she said she still sings gospel music because it keeps her grounded.

"Some of the qualities of a good opera singer are to be a good singer and a good actor. Theater is very important in opera because you have to have a good stage presence. Opera is a live art, having emotional depth, and bringing the audience to emotional places is important," she said.

She added, "I don't think people who are really passionate about this profession and art sing to be famous. This has to be something from your soul that the artist wants to share. Some opera singers are pressured into a myth of being inhuman, but we are ordinary people doing extraordinary things."

Kirk Douglas, Vanessa's husband of three years and an operatic tenor, said "professionally and personally she is passionate about her beliefs, and she has the tools and the determination to reach her goals."

Douglas, who moved here from Kansas City, by way of Phoenix, AZ., resides in Northridge with her husband.

Contact: Antoinette C. Griffith or Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130 acg67376@csun.edu



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