Outstanding Opera Students Shine as They Prepare to Transfer – Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922
Two Fullerton College students found their passion for opera at a young age. For Michelle Lockington, piano lessons at age 6 gave her an interest in music. For Antonio Serrano, finding acclaimed operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti on YouTube at age 13 opened the door.
These exceptional student singers each had different entry points into music, but both found their way into the world of opera. Both have won singing awards at FC, featured prominently in the spring performance of the ‘Marriage and Secrets’ opera stages and have exciting summer programs ahead of them. Their time at FC paved the way for Serrano and Lockington as opera singers.
Lockington’s path to opera followed a recognizable path. She took piano lessons and joined church and high school choirs. This led her to enroll in the applied singing program at FC. After her first semester, she auditioned for the Opera Workshop, lured by the chance to play a character and have individual roles to sing.
Serrano’s journey was a bit more dramatic. After watching this video of Pavarotti on YouTube, he tried to sing opera on his own, but found it difficult without help. He instead turned to mariachi music and also joined his high school choir.
When enrolling at FC, Serrano took singing lessons. During a performance of the classical repertoire, his musical journey brought him back to opera. Aram Barsamian, Director of Opera Studies and Coordinator of Classical Vocal Studies, saw her performance and suggested she try the genre again.
At the end of the spring semester, Lockington and Serrano prepare for their summer plans, which will include premieres for both artists.
For Lockington, this will include a trip to Italy, the birthplace of opera. On her first visit to Europe, she will be in Duino, participating in a month-long chamber music summer festival for strings, piano, voice and composition.
Serrano’s projects include a summer opera performance at FC, as well as the Chicago Summer Opera program. It will include weekly vocal lessons and her first chance to perform with a live orchestra.
Lockington credits the college and the program for the success of students like her and Serrano.
“We have excellent instruction,” Lockington said. “They really invest in us too. Most people enrolled in the program have two teachers. Opera students tend to be in applied voice, and that’s where we have individual voice lessons. We each have a personal singing teacher,” Lockington said.
Lockington and Serrano had a chance to shine during “Marriage and Secrets,” a show that featured a selection of scenes from three operas.
Originally slated for January, it was sent to limbo when the cast and crew fell ill with COVID-19. However, the postponed production was resurrected about three weeks before the performance and only had three full rehearsals.
The first act of “Marriage and Secrets” included performances of “Il matrimonio segreto” by Domenico Cimarosa and “Cendrillion” by Jules Massanet, with excerpts from Arthur Sullivan and “The Pirates of Penzance” by Arthur Sullivan and William Schwenck Gilbert in the second act.
Serrano, a deep-voiced tenor, played Prince Charming in “Cinderella,” an adaptation of “Cinderella,” and Frederick in “The Pirates of Penzance.” During “Cinderella”, the power of her voice charmed the audience.
Lockington, a mezzo-soprano, played Fidalma in “Il matrimonio secreto” and Ruth in “Pirates of Penzance”. She characterizes the two as nurturing figures, a niche she often found herself in during her performances in the opera program.
Operas are usually sung in Italian, German or French, so the plots can sometimes be lost on the audience. Director Aram Barsamian helped audiences follow the raw emotions told through song and directing by explaining a synopsis of scenes between acts. A projection above the stage also had an English translation of the sung lyrics.
“I would love to continue singing stuff like that in the future,” Serrano said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to put together a three-hour production with characters and storylines, and the music is beautiful.”
They will both transfer as vocal performance majors in the upcoming fall semester to Cal State Long Beach, where they plan to audition for the opera concentration.