This profile is one in a series focusing on the careers of conservatory students after Oberlin.
Less than two years after graduating from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Sydney Mancasola ’11 was named one of just six winners at the 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Often referred to as the American Idol of opera, the highly competitive contest leads to invaluable exposure before some of the most notable figures in the opera world.
For Mancasola, the accolade provided a welcome launch pad for her professional career. Since her Met audition, the soprano has debuted at the Des Moines Metro Opera and the Fort Worth Opera. Her 2014-15 season includes performances with Florida Grand Opera, Palm Beach Opera, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Mancasola credits her success to her undergraduate years at Oberlin—an experience that not only prepared her for life after school, but also shaped her deep love of music.
“I gained a thorough education through coursework, had invaluable onstage experience through the Opera Theater department, and I left Oberlin feeling empowered by the knowledge I received,” she says.
After graduating, Mancasola was accepted into the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, an elite training ground for aspiring opera singers.
“The Academy of Vocal Arts gave me the freedom to continue rigorously working on my craft along with the flexibility to start testing the waters of my professional career by taking main-stage auditions and competing in many of the New York City-based competitions,” she says.
Mancasola’s experience in the academy led to dozens of competition wins and other honors, and has helped her to form a clear vision for her music as well as a realistic understanding of the effort and time required to make music for a living. Her final performance with the Academy of Vocal Arts—in Massenet's Manon—left her with an overwhelming feeling of fulfillment.
“There was something inspiring about working so hard on something and knowing that the music is so sublime that there is no way to finish a performance of it and say to yourself, ‘Okay, I’m totally satisfied with that,’” she says. “I knew in that moment that singing that role would keep me creatively stimulated for a lifetime. That is the power of great music.”
Mancasola imagines a rich and fulfilling international operatic career, though she’s taking it one step at a time.
“It’s an incredibly personal, sometimes isolated journey, but when you go to sleep knowing that you’ve spent the day serving your muse—that is when it pays off,” she says. “That’s when the music charges your spirit.
“A wise teacher at Oberlin once told me, ‘The most important job is the one you have right now.’ I think of that often.”
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