To gain skills in the art of opera, Sonia Cummings spent her summer in Périgueux, France experience the life and culture of a different city.
Cummings is a senior vocal performance major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and was among 45 other students from across the nation to travel to France via Franco-American Vocal Academy, where she performed five operas at Théâtre Le Palace.
Given a solo in the opera “L’Enfant et les Sortiléges,” Cummings said her part was a contemporary 20th century French opera with a jazz feel. After playing the double-role of a mother with a misbehaving son and of a Chinese teacup that comes to life during her son’s temper tantrum, Cummings said she enjoyed how obnoxious and dramatic opera can be, although comedic styles are her favorite.
Outside of the program, Cummings traveled by train with a friend to Bordeaux, which is 85 miles southwest of Périgueux. The two spent their time visiting palaces and cathedrals.
But Cummings’s favorite part of her visit was being immersed in an unfamiliar culture.
“They like pizza just as much as we do,” she said.
Cummings said the language barrier was a challenge but noted most of her program was in basic French.
Susan Bender, voice professor, said she was proud of Cummings for her improvement of French pronunciation upon returning to school.
Though studying abroad can be expensive, Cummings said the experience and knowledge earned is worth the cost. Traveling abroad empowered her love of performing and helped her gain confidence.
Cummings said she wants to make the most of her last year at UWSP, and said she has been fortunate to have teachers and classes that prepared her for France and her future. Planning to go on to graduate school to further her education in vocal performance, Cummings would like to direct or teach opera, but her passion lies with becoming a professional performer. She hopes to return to France in the future.