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Published: April 16, 2024

UT Student Takes Stage With Opera Tampa

This Friday and Sunday, Brianna Davies ’24 will take to the Straz Center stage for her final set of performances with Opera Tampa.

UT Student Takes Stage With Tampa OperaThis Friday and Sunday, Brianna Davies ’24 will take to the Straz Center stage for her final set of performances with Opera Tampa. Photo courtesy of Davies

The vocal performance major will perform La Traviata, the world’s most-performed opera, sung in Italian, with English subtitles projected above the stage. The weekend performances cap a run with Opera Tampa that started this academic year but has been in the making since Davies’ childhood. 

Davies is part of an artistic family. Her twin brother is majoring in graphic design, and her grandmother, the one who inspired her love of opera, was known to play recordings all over the house. Davies has taken voice lessons since the third grade.

“I wanted to be Adele,” she said. 

Davies started at UT as a music education major, though she soon realized that she didn’t have the time to both teach and practice. She changed her major to musical theatre because “that’s where the opportunities were,” she said. She was good at it, but wasn’t in love with it, she added. 

With vocal performance, though, she “felt a calling and love for it.”

“It’s storytelling, like musical theatre, just a different language,” Davies said.

Davies calls her junior year a “building block year.”

“I knew what I wanted to do after graduation, so I was going to work to get as good as I can,” she said.

Then, last August, ahead of her senior year, she was invited by the head of the music department at UT to perform at the Porto Cheli International Music Festival in Greece for two weeks.

Following the event, Davies changed her academic focus once more, to vocal and opera performance. 

“I wanted my voice to mature as much as possible,” she said of having additional formal training.

The niche focus would also boost her graduate school applications, she said.

Also last summer, she auditioned for Opera Tampa’s run at the Straz Center.

She wanted to gain professional audition experience. She sang two pieces: a French aria and an Italian aria.

She was one of the younger performers, and the experience was “intimidating,” she said, but she got the role. 

“It was a good start to what would be senior year,” she said.

These days, Davies doesn’t just have the major performance on her plate.

She is a resident assistant, the president of the music fraternity, secretary for the music department, student director for the opera workshop, and she sings at a church in Tampa.

She does school music for about an hour a day and professional production work for up to an hour and a half.

Davies credits her voice teacher, Hein Jung, for being at the level she’s at now, but also the opera workshop class helped her better understand scenes and apply opera. The chamber choir helped her learn to better understand the pieces.

When Davies receives a piece, she first translates to see how it fits into the production. She can now sing in Italian, French, German and Russian, but her favorite is French.

“It’s definitely hard not being fluent,” she said. “It’s a beautiful language with real-world pieces.”

Davies will graduate in May. She was accepted into all five graduate schools that she auditioned for and will attend the New England Conservatory this fall on a scholarship to receive her master’s degree in vocal performance.

La Traviata will take place at the Straz Center at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.


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