TUPELO – Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you, if you’re a diehard Eric Whitacre fan.
Danielle Frerer, 26, of Tupelo, teaches choir and dance at Tupelo Middle School. After the school year ends, she’ll travel to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall.
She’ll be an angel in the New York premier of Whitacre’s opera, “Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings.”
“It’s an opera he wrote several years ago,” Frerer said. “I saw it in Pasadena, Calif., and it was amazing.”
Whitacre is an American composer of choral and electronic music, and he’s something of a rock star in the classical music world, Frerer said.
“I started singing his music in high school. He is a genius,” said the 2002 alumna of Tupelo High School.
Meeting a genius
When she was a student at Mississippi College, her choir was invited to perform at an American Choral Directors Association meeting in Los Angeles. They performed Whitacre’s “Lux Aurumque,” and Frerer had a solo part.
One problem: Whitacre was in attendance.
“My solo was very high and very exposed. My voice started cracking because I was so nervous,” she said. “I started crying. My director grabbed me by the face and said, ‘You’re going to be OK. You’re going to be OK. Get it together.’ I pretty much said, ‘Yes, coach.’
“The performance went wonderfully. Everything came out like it was supposed to.”
Afterward, Frerer’s dad found her and told her to hurry. He’d stopped Whitacher, and asked the composer to meet with his daughter.
“I came down the stairs, happy as a lark,” she said. “I see this figure standing in a doorway. There’s a light surrounding him. All I could say was, ‘I love your music.’”
That performance and meeting have nothing to do with the Carnegie Hall show on June 15, other than the fact it further cemented Frerer’s appreciation for Whitacre.
She found out in September that Whitacre was looking for chorus members, so she sent in a video audition. She was accepted, and now she’ll get to perform as Whitacre directs his work.
“It’s not what you think when you think about opera,” she said. “He uses techno music, trance, electronica and Taiko drumming. He uses Japanese anime on big screens. It’s not what you’d expect.”
Frerer is rehearsing her parts, and she’ll pay her own way to New York and back. This isn’t a paying gig, but there’s a chance it could lead to other opportunities.
But no matter what happens in the future, it’s already a fairy tale for Frerer.
“My kids that I teach, they know I’m a huge fan of Eric Whitacre. I make such a big deal of him in class,” she said. “When I told them about this, they all cheered and clapped. It was great.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal