Murphy-White gets taste of life as pro opera singer

Published 6:00 pm Friday, August 11, 2017

A hometown girl has experienced a dream come true this summer: the life of a professional opera singer.

Connor Murphy-White, a 2010 graduate of Greenville High School,  traveled to Germany to be part of the prestigious Berlin Opera Academy.

“BOA is a young artist program designed to guide singers as they transition between student and professional status,” Murphy-White explains. “Through BOA we learned how the professional German houses are run. And we were treated like professional singers with all the duties and responsibilities that go with the career.”

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Every evening the participants received a “probenplan” (rehearsal schedule) for the following day, including rehearsals, lessons and coaching periods along with class times and locations, all written in German.

“Every morning we had movement classes and every evening we had German classes. And most days I had voice lessons or vocal coachings, sometimes both on the same day,” Murphy-White explains.

And there was more than just classes and rehearsals for the aspiring opera singer. She had the opportunity to perform the role of Suor Dolcina in the one-act Puccini opera “Suor Angelica” for the BOA.

“I also sang for a “Liederabend” (Song Evening) and at a gala at the Mendelssohn Remise, a renovated bank owned by the renowned Mendelssohn family.”

She even had the chance to audition for two German musical agents and sang for a masterclass while she was in Berlin, Murphy-White says.

With six roommates who were literally from around the globe, Murphy-White made international friendships and lifetime connections during her time at the BOA. And there was another  benefit.

“My conversational German is much improved. And this trip has inspired me to continue learning and studying the German language,” she says.

Before she was embarking on international musical adventures, Murphy-White was active in music and drama at GHS, where she appeared in four plays/musicals directed by Chris and Naomi Pryor: “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Into the Woods,” “And Then There Were None” and “The Pirates of Penzance.”

She went on to receive a double degree in music industry and theater from Troy University in 2015, where she was named the Outstanding Music Graduate that year. At Troy, Murphy-White sang in numerous operas and was part of many theatrical productions, both backstage and onstage.

“To complete my music industry degree, I interned with Distinguished Concerts International New York where I worked backstage at both Carnegie Hall and David Geffen Hall,” she explains.

She also got to rub shoulders with film professionals during her time in the Big Apple, working with Deke Sharon, the vocal arranger/vocal producer of the popular “Pitch Perfect” movies.

In the summers of 2014 and 2015, Murphy-White performed as the character Nancy Ward in “Horn in the West,” an outdoor drama presented annually in Boone, N.C.

Now she is concentrating on finishing her masters degree in vocal performance with concentration in opera at the University of New Mexico. And she’s singing whenever given the opportunity.

“This past season I sang as the soprano soloist in Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ with the UNM Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and  performed scenes from Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’ as Violetta with the HSO Orchestra. This fall I am contracted to sing Pamina in Mozart’s ‘Die Zauberflöte,’” Murphy-White says.

As for the future, “I think the long-term goal for any young opera singer is to sing at the Metropolitan Opera. The Met is, arguably, the best in the world.”

In the next few years, Murphy-White says she would like to be cast in the Tier 1 Young Artist Programs (YAPS) including Merola, Wolf Trap, and Glimmerglass and to serve as an apprentice singer for an opera company. She already works as a voice teacher, and hopes to see her private studio grow.

And Murphy-White’s musical aspirations may take her further afield.

“There is also a strong possibility that I will audition for more German agents and begin a European career.”

For Connor Murphy-White, it’s all about the chance to share the music she loves.

“My passion is the stage; my passion is creating great music. I would love nothing more than to have a long, fruitful career doing what I love most–touching lives through music,” she says.

“Music touches all lives and I firmly believe music has a strong impact on cultivating caring, creative, and cultured people.”