The House that Opera Built

Not only have the 2020-21 Florentine Opera artists been singing together since July, they’ve also been living under the same roof.

Since July, four artists have been living together in a house in Riverwest under the auspices of the Florentine Opera Company.

Emily Jensen, Taylor-Alexis DuPont, Nathaniel Catasca and Steve Valenzuela didn’t know each other when they found out that they’d been named the Florentine’s 2020-21 Donald and Donna Baumgartner studio artists. But the four of them – who competed against over 200 other singers for the chance to live and train together – have certainly grown close in the months since.

Photo by Pearl Nemecek

And although the Florentine’s season has been anything but normal this year, the artists have nonetheless managed to continue rehearsing for shows. The masks they wear can make it more difficult for them to sing, but DuPont has found a bright side. “When you get out of the mask, I feel like it improves your singing a little bit,” she says. “Because you use a little more muscle than you usually would.”

And Valenzuela is heartened by the work the company has done to attract younger audiences to its largely virtual programs. “They’re splicing together genres,” he says.

You can find digital recordings of some of the studio artists’ latest performances at florentineopera.org. And the artists are slated to perform at an in-person concert, titled La Vie en Rose, April 9 and 11 at the Lueders Opera Center. A digital recording of the show will be available after April 22.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s March issue.

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