Music Alumni Spotlight: Laura Begley ’10
Music, Music Alumni, Opera, University Center for the Arts | February 19, 2014
When Laura Begley came to CSU as an aspiring music therapist, she never guessed that in just a few years’ time, she would be overseas studying vocal performance, winning competitions, and performing on stage with one of the top opera companies in the country.
With the reputation of CSU’s Music Therapy program drawing her to campus, Laura quickly began to be noticed for her beautiful mezzo-soprano voice.
“She had a great talent, and has really taken her talent to new levels” said Todd Queen, chair of the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, and Laura’s voice teacher during her time at CSU.
After winning various vocal competitions during her early years at CSU, Laura began to gravitate toward performance and soon changed her focus.
“With faculty like Todd Queen and James Kim, CSU was a great music community,” said Laura.
Laura performed several operatic roles with the CSU Opera Theatre, now the Charles and Reta Ralph Opera Center at Colorado State, including Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflöte, Angelina in La Cenerentola, and the Female Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, and more.
Encouraged to pursue performance by Todd Queen after just beginning at CSU, Laura enrolled and was accepted as one of two 19-year-olds to attend a six-week lieder program through the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria.
“AIMS definitely made me work harder and see the areas of my singing with which I needed the most help,” Laura reflected. “It kind of jump-started me into singing as a professional and shaped my path since I followed the teacher I had there for my Masters, which is what took me to Texas.”
Upon graduation from CSU, Laura moved to Dallas where she is currently finishing her Masters in Music at the University of North Texas, studying with Linda DiFiore. Laura is also in the young artist program at Dallas Opera where she participates in workshops and master classes, performs in mainstage productions, and is involved with the company’s education outreach programs. Additonally, Laura made her Saratoga opera debut last summer as Alisa in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.
Laura is excited to return to CSU on March 4 as the feature of the spring Alumni Concert Series at the University Center for the Arts at Colorado State.
“The last time I was in the Organ Recital Hall was for my senior recital,” said Laura. “I am so grateful for all the encouragement I had from the faculty, the dean, and others during my time at CSU. There aren’t a lot of schools where you can expect that kind of support, so it will feel more like home.”
Her recital will feature “The Deepest Desire” by contemporary American composer Jake Heggie, best known for the opera, Dead Man Walking. The woman at the core of that emotional story, Sister Helen Prejean, also inspired the song cycle, “Deepest Desire,” based on her writings about her faith and the work she’s done in the name of social justice. The cycle will also feature CSU alumnae Jamie Wheelock, M.M. ’10, flute.
“The piece is really beautiful,” said Laura. “I initially started working on it when Jake Heggie was UNT’s composer-in-residence and I was able to coach the song with him. I’ve performed a couple of the pieces since then but never the set in its entirety so I’m very excited.”
All about Laura:
Ensembles at CSU: Chamber Choir, Concert Choir, CSU Opera Theatre (now Ralph Opera Center)
Favorite Professor/Director: Todd Queen
Favorite Role at CSU: Playing the Female Chorus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. That was my first role in an opera so it’s a memorable experience.
Favorite Opera: Dead Men Walking by Jake Heggie.
Favorite Artist: It’s a tie between Joyce DiDonato and Susan Graham
On Your iPod Right Now: Opera, of course, but really a little bit of everything.
Biggest Influence: Dr. Queen during my undergrad, and right now, my voice teacher, Linda DiFiore, at UNT.