Day in the Life: Whitney Robinson '18 MM '20 AD Opera Studies

In this series, we're taking you through the daily lives of students at NEC. Follow along in this day in the life of opera singer and AD candidate Whitney Robinson, then take a look at how mandolin player Simon Dunson and violinist Abigail Hong spend their time at NEC.

Whitney Robinson and Gianni Schicchi Cast


Today we're taking you through a rehearsal day for mezzo soprano Whitney Robinson '18 MM '20 AD, who performs the roles of La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica and Zita in Gianni Schicchi, presented by NEC Opera in April 2019.


Opera and orchestra students rehearsing for an opera


9:58 a.m. The day starts off with orchestra rehearsal, under the direction of conductor Christopher Larkin. lt is the first run-through of Puccini’s tragic opera, Suor Angelica, with orchestra.


Whitney Robinson rehearsing for an opera


11:20 a.m. A little later, we move on to the second short Puccini opera on the bill, Gianni Schicchi. This is a rambunctious comedy, evident by the frequent laughter that spreads through the rehearsal.  


Whitney Robinson singing in rehearsal for an opera


11:21a.m. Baritone SeungYun Kim (Gianni Schicchi) and I rehearse while Kristen Murdaugh, who is double cast in the role of Zita, sings along.


Whitney Robinson rehearsing in studio


12:39 p.m. I have the pleasure of studying privately with Bradley Williams, a tenor who has a great understanding of both vocal pedagogy and the needs of his students. Sora Jung, a collaborative piano student, does a wonderful job playing during my lessons. 


Whitney Robinson rehearsing with teacher


12:48 p.m. Mr. Williams works with me on a set of Russian songs for an upcoming Liederabend concert. Although, I was a clarinetist when I entered college, I love the opportunities to study languages such Italian, French, German and Russian that both opera and art song provide. 


Whitney Robinson and Bradley Williams singing


12:49 p.m. Mr. Williams knows how to coax the best from me and push me to go to the next level.


Whitney Robinson and friends eating lunch in the SLPC


1:27p.m. Time for a quick lunch with friends in the SLPC, but even then the music never really stops.


Whitney Robinson practicing in open opera studio


2:50 p.m. An open opera studio gives me space for solitary practice — time to assimilate some of the ideas Mr. Williams has given me and work trouble spots before my next rehearsal.


Whitney Robinson practicing with pianist


3:15 p.m. Moving just across the hall, I have a session with my collaborative piano partner Jingsi Lu. We rehearse Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death for Liederabend.


Jingsi Lu at the piano, Whitney Robinson's arm up


3:19 p.m. Jingsi and I work closely together to create a truly integrated interpretation of the music.


Whitney Robinson singing with opera cast


4:25 p.m. Joshua Major coaches me on the aria "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" from Carmen during Opera Workshop. Although, it has been a long day of singing, he encourages me to dig deep and think about what each gesture and inflection can add to the scene.


Whitney Robinson being coached by Josh Major


I enjoy performing for my peers, even though it can be nerve-racking.  They are a tough crowd of opera insiders but they are always supportive and inspiring.


Whitney Robinson taking notes in opera practice


6:05 p.m. On to a blocking rehearsal for Suor Angelica + Gianni Schicchi. I finally get to rest my voice, while the other cast is in the spotlight. I pay close attention and take notes as we work through the show, while director Steven Goldstein makes adjustments to the onstage action.

Whitney Robinson as Princess is Suor Angelica


Catch Whitney Robinson in Suor Angelica + Gianni Schicchi on April 12 at The Huntington Theatre.


Special thanks to Whitney Robinson for taking us along with her on a very busy day!

Photos by Andrew Hurlbut / New England Conservatory