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UCLA Magazine Spring 2005
From Murphy Hall
Living La Vida 'Lorca'
Stress Fractures
What's at Stake
The Importance of Being Elma
House of Cards
The Quest
Through Women's Eyes
Dynamic Duo
Bruin Walk

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Spring 2005
Living La Vida 'Lorca'

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If Stockhammer is anxious, the young musicians and singers would never know it. During rehearsals he wears a Buddha-like smile and seems possessed of a preternatural calm. Orchestra rehearsals are in Schoenberg, in a high-ceilinged room with a tiered floor and big acoustic tiles on the walls. The string instruments are to Stockhammer’s left, the winds to his right. There are drums, tam-tams and a xylophone in back, and a big, shiny tuba behind the clarinets. Stockhammer perches on a stool, his left leg outstretched, right knee bent, a baton in his right hand. The score is on a stand in front of him. Krouse’s music is rhythmically complex so the pages are heavy with notes. Stockhammer cautions the musicians to avoid the temptation to “play with gusto” this first time around. “Stay as relaxed as possible and listen more than you normally would,” he says.

Stockhammer does not push but coaxes. On one afternoon, León and Dastoor are practicing the love duet, along with Kalil Wilson, 23, with whom León shares the role of Leonardo. León’s singing is achingly beautiful, which for Stockhammer is a problem. He wants less beauty and more grit.

“You do that aria very nicely,” Stockhammer says softly. “What you can add to that is a little more poison.”

“Poison,” León repeats, narrowing his eyes and nodding his head slightly.

“Yes. It’s an ugly, ugly moment. Maybe you could make it a little more ugly.”

“A little more ugly,” León repeats.

ON A WARM AFTERNOON, the singers meet in Schoenberg Hall for rehearsal. The girls wear spaghetti-strap tops, jeans and flip-flops. One sings “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies as she settles into her chair on stage. “OK, folks. We’re going to start with Act II, Scene III,” says Daniel Cummings, the assistant conductor, raising his baton to signal the rehearsal pianist, Myhang Thi Huynh.

Krouse slides into a seat about 10 rows back to watch. There are about two dozen students rehearsing, but the stage this afternoon belongs to Chy. The singer’s casting as Yerma, who yearns for a child in her womb, was inspired. When she sings, motherhood “just radiates from her,” says Lands, the accompanist. At the time she auditioned for the UCLA opera program, Chy was hugely pregnant with her son, Elliot, now age 2.

“The only thing that fit her was her Korean national costume,” Gondek recalls. “So she came in wearing this gorgeous, silk sort of kimono, and she looked like a million bucks. She opened her mouth and out came this beautiful sound, and we said, ‘Ooh, we gotta have her.’ ”

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