SHU professor, chorus use opera to raise money for Sandy repairs

Seton Hall music professor Dr. Jason Tramm has found a way to honor an operatic legend, raise money for charity and give his students the opportunity of a lifetime.

His company, the Mid-Atlantic Opera, will celebrate the 200th birthday of the late nineteenth century romantic composer Giuseppe Verdi on Friday, September 21 with “Verdiana” at the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove.

The performance will be a chronological compilation of Verdi’s masterworks performed by Metropolitan Opera stars Jeremy Gaylon, Ronald Naldi and the Seton Hall University Chorus. Tramm said this show is a chance to combine his loves of music and teaching, giving his students a major platform to hone their craft with professional performers.

“When I founded this company, I thought what a great experience it’d be for the students,” he said. “The most satisfying thing, as a professor, is that I get to bring my work’s experience to my students, and here I get to bring my students to my work… They’ll have this for the rest of their lives.”

And it’s all for a good cause – 10 percent of the concert’s proceeds will go toward repairing the auditorium’s roof, which was damaged in Hurricane Sandy. In today’s economic climate, Tramm said, every penny is welcome.

“Every single donation matters,” Tramm said. “Every single person counts.”

Attendees of the show will receive an experience unlike most performances. According to Tramm, the singers and orchestra will be joined onstage by a film and text displaying Verdi’s life. While this blend of the aural, visual and textual may seem more cinematic than operatic, Tramm pointed out opera could be considered the original movies.

“Before film, opera was the movie of the pre-20th century day. There was no electricity, but there was still the staging and the lighting, the movements on the stage, the music, dance – it was a complete set of the arts.”

Many students might feel hesitant about going to the show. After all, the widespread stereotype is that opera is extremely dull. But Tramm said going to a performance is a lot more powerful than going to the movies.

“In a movie the sound is condensed,” he said. “Not in the opera hall. The physical impact of a tenor’s voice…It’s a very special thing. Until you’re there and you feel it, you can’t describe it. It’s a physical experience.”

To purchase tickets and find out more about “Verdiana,” visit or

Ben Rader can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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