The task of preparing more than 20 singers and instrumentalists to stage CLU’s first full-length opera over four nights fell to a mother and daughter, both alumnae, who often work as a musical team. Still, the duo had never produced a show together.
Elizabeth Helms, M.A. ’05, who teaches voice on campus and earned a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Education, and Jessica Helms ’04, who has her CLU degree in music, work together, for example, on a community choir in Ventura which recently performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Elizabeth is the choir director and daughter Jessica accompanies.
For Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, the mother-and-daughter team for the first time shared duties equally, helping the director, Heidi Valencia Vas, to identify student talent for the production in only 10 rehearsals. Elizabeth prepared musical scores for the tragic love story, while Jessica played harpsichord and led the string quartet.
Both worked to familiarize young performers with baroque opera.
“Trying to get them comfortable in this different sound world was a large part of it,” said Jessica. “I wasn’t sure how they’d react to it…. They really dove into it, and I would hear them talking about it outside of rehearsal, and they would get with each other and practice alone. That was really gratifying.”