Bethlehem teen hits high note

Like many teenagers, Bethany Karpowitz loves Broadway musicals. She saw her first show at age 4, and since then, on regular family visits to New York City, they always see a show.

In high school, Karpowitz started voice lessons with two goals in mind. Her long-term goal was to sing on Broadway and her short-term goal was to land good parts in the musicals at Bethlehem Central High School.

Through family friends, Karpowitz started working with professional singer Carol Yahr in her Manhattan voice studio. Within a few months, Karpowitz learned her voice was more suited to classical singing.

Within a short period of time, we discovered that she has an unusual talent, said Yahr, who typically coaches professional singers. Turns out that Karpowitz can sing very high notes.

"It's dog whistle range," quipped Karpowitz.

"She was very excited," Yahr said. "She started listening to a whole new landscape of music."

Switching her focus from Broadway to the Metropolitan Opera may be atypical, but Karpowitz has embraced the change.

"The repertoire I sing is so much fun," she said.

With three years of voice lessons and high school theater experience, Karpowitz earned one of 28 slots at the Washington National Opera's Institute for Young Singers, selected from more than 100 applicants.

The main activity at the three-week intensive program was the rehearsal and performance of an opera scene, said stage director Cindy Oxberry.

"I stage direct [students], make them use props, and show them how to interact as characters," Oxberry said.

In addition to rehearsals and voice lessons, students had workshops in ear training, sight singing, music history, audition practice, vocal health, and resume writing.

Karpowitz performed a scene from Mozart's "The Magic Flute," as one of three ladies who sing in harmony. Oxberry said it's difficult for young singers to hold their line without the support of a chorus, but the trio did very well.

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