Sophomore auditions for New York production of 'Carmen'

by Annie Smith | 8/4/14 7:19pm

Jordana Composto ’16 rushed into her audition, slightly late. She was suffering from a bout of laryngitis, and as she heard the voices of her competitors, she grew even more nervous. She had a shot at her dream: performing for the Amore Opera Company’s production of Georges Bizet’s world-famous opera “Carmen.”

In a black lace dress she walked into the audition room. Five people —the director, producers and company manager — sat before her, stoic. They asked for her resume and headshot.

“Alright, sing,” one said, and she did — “Voi Che Sapete” from Mozart’s opera “Le Nozze di Figaro,” one of her favorite arias.

“It was disconcerting because they wouldn’t make eye contact,” Composto said. “They were kind of looking at me but not really looking at me. I felt like I was working hard to really reach them.”

After inquiring about her schedule, they dismissed her with a “thank you.”

Since that July audition, Composto has not yet heard back from the company.

A member of the Dartmouth Glee Club and the Rockapellas, Composto said she decided to audition for the production when she met an alumnus involved in the company while working at reunions in June.

Composto got involved in music when she was 5.

“I loved listening to the church choir, but there wasn’t a children’s choir,” Composto said. “So I begged the music director, and she started a children’s choir.”

From then on, Composto was fully immersed in the music world. She began private voice lessons in seventh grade, and joined the Pennsylvania Girlchoir which draws its members from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Composto began to sing opera solos in 10th grade.

Composto said that her love of music has played an important role in her time at Dartmouth. She opted to take Italian classes because the opera pieces that she often sings are written in Italian and she wanted to understand exactly what she sings. She has also taken private singing classes with Louis Burkot, director of Dartmouth’s Glee Club and a senior lecturer in the music department, whom she described as having an incredible ear.

Studying abroad in London through the music foreign study program also influenced her decision to audition. She said she learned about the differences between pieces of music and performances of music.

Music professor Sally Pinkas taught Composto in London on the FSP.

“I was very intimately involved with all of them, both intellectually and hands on as performers,” she said. “Jordana is extremely talented and quite advanced as a vocalist, which is not something you usually get with a girl of her age.”

Composto has done a good job leading by example, fellow Rockapella Meredith Shaw ’15 said, by being hard-working and having a positive, fun energy in rehearsals.

“She has such a breadth of ability in terms of musicality, she can sing both opera and a capella which, for a musician, is really impressive,” Shaw said.

Beyond her involvement in music at the College, Composto said wanted to challenge herself by auditioning for “Carmen,” but she doesn’t want to pursue music as a career.

“I have great resources here, but I think that the thing is for singing and for music, you have to look to the resources in the Dartmouth network and beyond,” Composto said.

Many people told Composto they were surprised that she took such a big step in auditioning for a New York opera company, though Composto said she saw it as a logical step.

“I’ve been training for years to be in opera, and while I don’t want to be a professional singer, I feel like I’ve been working really hard towards this goal,” Composto said. “It is something that I really want to do, and if it’s something I want to do, it doesn’t feel like such a huge step.”