Peter's praise from the field
Peter Mark has the best ears in the business and has a true insight and tireless dedication to promoting young talent. I will never forget that first audition for Peter in New York, shortly after I had graduated from the Conservatory and won the Met auditions. His auditions provided such a relaxed and enthusiastic environment for a young singer, boosting my confidence so that I could give my very best audition. He then hired me on the spot to sing the role of Mercedes in Carmen. After arriving in Norfolk and starting rehearsals, Peter heard me in the Card Trio and said, I want to add a student matinee performance and give you the opportunity to learn and perform your first Carmen. I seized that opportunity with castanets on and under his tutelage, I gave my first Carmen performance with the Virginia Opera in 1986. That literally changed my life and career path since this infamous gypsy became my calling card signature role and I have now sung that role over 200 times, worldwide, including performances at the Metropolitan Opera, opposite tenor, Placido Domingo. Working with Peter was never a job, it was a joy and I have continued to enjoy his loyal friendship and support during the past 22 years of my career. I am honored to be a small part of this recognition of his overwhelming artistic commitment to the world of opera. Thank you from the bottom of my throat and heart.
When working with Peter, you get the RARE perspective of a singer, an instrumentalist and a conductor; Peter has played all three parts! : Like a utility player in baseball who knows how to play all the positions, Peter is a utility coach. His wealth of knowledge spans character development, how an operatic role is scored with orchestra, vocal technical solutions that work to the specific individual, and how a piece is conducted. Peter also has the unique gift to help singers, either young or advanced, “paint” a role with vocal colors that will meld with the orchestra to tell captivating stories to audiences, which is what matters most in the end!
Peter knows exactly what is needed to be heard as far as vocal production, through his unique methods is able to quickly achieve the desired results I recently had the pleasure of collaborating as pianist for Peter Mark's master class for young Opera singers and found him to be highly effective in his ability to elicit the best possible results from each of the participants. Due to his many years of professional experience in the world of Opera, Peter knows exactly what is needed to be heard as far as vocal production and style in the widest possible variety of repertoire, but more importantly, through his unique methods is able to quickly achieve the desired results from each of the singers.
Rarely does an artist have the opportunity to say “this was a truly rewarding experience of a lifetime”. Having Maestro Peter Mark at the helm, conducting with his vast knowledge, expertise, and love of opera, singing the title role of Elektra by R. Strauss with the Virginia Opera, made this very challenging of operas some of the most fulfilling creative and emotional performances in my career. Besides being “great in the pit” Peter Mark is also a master of knowing the voice and is able to convey this knowledge clearly and with great results as I have witnessed first hand through observing his master classes. By working with Peter each singer finds his/her way to the ease, placement, and trueness of the individual sound. Thank you, Peter, for sharing your knowledge, love, and expertise with all of us.
Working with Peter Mark has been a life changing experience in my life. The enthusiasm ( without which nothing happens in the arts - any art), passion, focus and thorough first hand knowledge of the medium make for the unforgettable impact that any mid career singer needs to shake off the cobwebs of common place Tradition. “The refuge of the lazy” according to Gustav Mahler. The leaps forward within a few sessions are staggering. You’ll never work harder with such immediate results. He won’t let you hide from yourself.
Peter Mark has talent, vision, intelligence, commitment, and charisma. However, my first, and continuing, impression of Peter is this: if he likes you, he hires you. This may seem like an obvious characteristic for an Artistic Director to have, but Peter is one of perhaps three I've ever encountered who simply hires who he feels is the best singer for the job, regardless of external factors. He offered me my first opera contract when I was fresh out of college, based solely on his belief that I would perform well, and he has done the same for other singers – many now world-famous – who otherwise would never have had the opportunity to begin their careers in such an advantageous way.
I recall and treasure that time as most pivotal in my musical journey. Peter enabled me to take the artistry I arrived with to the next exciting level. Peter Mark gave me my first opportunity to perform the role of Azucena in Il Trovatore during the 1989-90 season at Virginia Opera. Performing with an international cast of talented singers on the brink of major careers, I recall and treasure that time as most pivotal in my musical journey. Peter’s masterful musical direction, knowledge and experience, creative direction, and inspiring spirit enabled me to take the artistry I arrived with to the next exciting level. His personal and professional encouragement were instrumental in leading me quickly to an international career. Since my debut with Virginia Opera I have sung at the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala and in major opera houses in 27 countries. Peter Mark’s continuing enthusiasm for working with and mentoring talented young singers has inspired me to share my own experiences by teaching and coaching our next generation of performers. What a ‘MARK’ he has had on my life! Bravo, and thank you, Peter!
There is no other teacher I have encountered… in my life-long career in The Arts who is able to train the full-blooded pre-WWII Italian vocal sound so authentically. Founded on the ancient pedagogical principles which characterized the vocal production of Zinka Milanov and Leonard Warren, Maestro Peter Mark’s exemplary work with opera singers represents the dynamic continuation of a classical duality all too rare in today’s landscape. He is the Conductor/Teacher, the lasting influence of whose instruction invariably propels singers far beyond their established norms, as exemplified in the work of Tullio Serafin with Maria Callas and Dimitri Mitropoulos with Mario dell Monaco. His own accomplishments as a singer, coupled with his onstage encounters with the greatest singers of the 20th century, uniquely augment the musical theories he shares with experiential techniques to develop both vocal and dramatic skills for the stage. He stands alone in the field, carrying on the work of the great mid-20th century teachers who emigrated to The U.S. from Europe, all gone now, whose work would otherwise be in danger of becoming a lost art! The coordinated training in the program of study offered by Peter Mark and Karin Fantus represents a uniquely effective combination of excellences. Specifically designed to address the needs of singers at any level, it succeeds mightily. Recently, I accepted their invitation to offer a seminar in dramatic interpretation, involving both theory and immediate application. It was both delightful and heartening to find that the participating artists not only produced the voice well enough to be able to address interpretation, but were in possession of physical instruments liberated enough to be able to act the scene. I recommend Peter and Karin's work with great enthusiasm and without reservation.
Life changing. Each session brings immediate improvements. He's supportive, observant, and has an incredible ear for detail. I'm aIways amazed at how much useful knowledge Peter has about the voice and its relationship with sound production in the body. His understanding is immense, and for me...life changing. Each session brings immediate improvements, and always requires time for me to digest and incorporate what I learned. I attribute Peter's knowledge to his incredible enthusiasm for understanding and excellence. It's a privilege to work with him.
Those young singers on the brink of major careers will always be indebted to you. Sharing your expertise goes beyond a sense of duty to and pride In their emerging talent. Your detailed discussions utilize a variety of teaching “tools” from your well-stocked “workshop,” incorporating a palette of technical and artistic choices. These may variously include : economical use of the breath, precise vocal placement, clarity of diction, word painting, phrasing, dynamic shading, authenticity of style, character development, etc. The knowledge they amass will long inform their understanding and acceptance of the in-depth, focused, patient work needed to excel in this profession. I wish them all the very best of luck.