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Opera not young singer's only passion [Clarksville]

Some items are just too interesting to become a brief item with no follow-up. There's not enough detail to satisfy my curiosity. The item about Marissa Diehl's excellent adventure with Washington National Opera's Summer Institute is one of those.

Clarksville resident Marissa Diehl is a rising senior at Glenelg Country School and definitely one of our "special" youngsters. In the recent past, she has been in school musicals including "Pippin," which won Cappies Best Musical in 2012.

Marissa sings with the Young Artists of America, a group which draws talented high school musicians to reherse, perform and be mentored by professional artists in fully orchestrated performances including large-scale works of opera, musical theater, oratorio and dance. She performed at the Bethesda Jazz Club for their 2013 Gala singing "You Are Love" from "Show Boat" with River Hill graduate David Fisher.

This spring Marissa did a community action project of a Variety Show performed at Vantage House in Columbia. This summer she was selected for the Washington National Opera Summer Institute, where she was able to perform in a master class with the esteemed soprano Harolyn Blackwell as well as have a private lesson with her. Ms. Blackwell grew up in the Burtonsville area and now resides in Washington, D.C.

Cindy Oxberry, director of the WNO Summer Institute, chose the quintet singing a portion of "The Ballad of Baby Doe" to perform with a select few on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center on July 12.

You can view the performance at kennedy-center.org/explorer/videos/?id=M5921. Marissa is wearing a purple dress in a scene that starts at about the 30-minute mark.

Marissa wants everyone to know how absolutely wonderful the WNO Summer Institute is for singers. She experienced tremendous growth in her voice and understanding of conveying meaning on stage. Everyone at the institute had opportunity to focus on Italian art songs and English opera scenes. All took classes in breath support, sight singing, drama, opera history, movement, ear training, audition preparation and Italian diction. Working with opera professionals, she learned how to audition, prepare a resume and support vocal health.

Do you think music is the young lady's only passion? It isn't. Marissa is a member of the National Honors Society and is enrolled in the Honors STEM program. Last summer she attended the four-week Engineering Innovation program at Johns Hopkins for lab activities in robotics, material science, computer, chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. At the conclusion, students apply their knowlege to build dry spaghetti and epoxy bridges and test them to see which will hold the most weight. Marissa and her teammates took first place in the 2013 Spaghetti Bridge contest setting a weight record of 34 kg. Here is a link to video of the Spaghetti Bridge contest. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRh1zuM4dXM. To see a photo of the contest go to twitter.com /JHUMoCo/status/360796540320772096/photo/1.

You can see Marissa filming in the background.

Marissa is determined to be both an engineer and singer. She's looking at colleges offering both courses of study. Possibly she will get a degree in electrical or biomedical engineering with a minor in music-vocal performance. Operatic voices take time to mature. Her second degree would be Music-Opera performance.

Best wishes as you go for it, gal.

The next meeting of the Frederick Chapter of the Hearing Lass Association of America is a picnic at Edenton Retirement Community on Aug. 2. All with an interest in hearing loss and advocacy are welcome to attend.

Are deer eating you out of house and garden? The ten villages of Columbia are sponsoring a deer management workshop at the Other Barn in Oakland Mills on Thursday, Aug. 7, from 7 to 9 p.m. You're invited to attend.

For information, call 410-730-4610 or email events@oaklandmills.org.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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