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Have You Herd? July 2009 Salute

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Dr. Robert Hansen

Dr. Robert Hansen is warming up his vocal cords as he prepares to perform before the hardest audience in the world.

Hansen, WTAMU professor of music, is traveling to Paris, France, for the International Congress of Voice Teachers “Singing Past and Present: Innovation and Tradition” July 15-19 at Folies Bergeres in the city’s opera district. He will portray Louis XVI in a workshop performance of “Marie-Antoinette and her Love for Axel von Fersen” before an audience of peers and colleagues.

This isn’t the first international audience for the tenor. He’s performed in England before, but admits the Paris performance will prove to be a totally different venue.

“The audience in England paid to see me,” he laughs. “This is a conference of fellow voice teachers and could prove to be the hardest audience in the world.”

The performance will be part of a session titled “The Swedish Opera” and led by Hansen’s colleague, Dr. Kathleen Roland-Silverstein in California. She has been working with the Swedish composer/librettist team of David Bortz and Kettil Skarby on several works, one of which is the Marie-Antoinette opera. Roland-Silverstein contacted Hansen earlier in the year about the possibility of performing the English translation of the work at the Paris conference, and he eagerly agreed.

The 40-minute excerpt will focus on Louis XVI (Hansen), Marie-Antoinette and Axel as they plan an escape. Hansen’s character admits how ineffectual he is, and the excerpt leads up to

Louis XVI’s execution at the guillotine.

“It’s very exciting,” Hansen said.

The International Congress of Voice Teachers represents all national singing organizations in the world. Its conference is hosted every four years, and the last event was in 2005 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Paris conference will mark Hansen’s second time to attend an International Congress of Voice Teachers conference.

“The last time I was in Paris was right after college with a backpack, and singing was not on the agenda,” he said. “I’m very excited. It’s a unique opportunity to perform in Europe.”

Hansen is a familiar voice on stages around the country, including numerous roles with the Amarillo Little Theatre, Amarillo Opera, Chamber Music Amarillo and WTAMU faculty recitals.

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