Have you ever watched the TV show ARIA, in which presenter Dionne Stax goes in search of the new opera star of the Netherlands? Something like this, but locally and in a stimulating and safe learning environment happens during the S’Opera Tutto course from RICK. “The nice thing about the course is that your performance lasts five times longer than on TV. You will experience for yourself what singing an aria in front of an audience does to you without all the bells and whistles. It is a nice start as an (opera) singer and you will not be judged for it”, says Richard Jeurissen. He has already participated in the S’ Opera Tutto course three times and plans to participate again in 2023.
For Richard Jeurissen (51 years old) singing the high C in an aria remains a challenge. During the closing performance of S’ Opera Tutto, Richard sang the high A in the tenor aria Che Gelida Manina from the opera Bohemia from Puccini. “Two notes lower than the original, as the Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti sang it. I now have to take a run up to get to the high C. I hope to be there right away.”
Stress disappears for a while
Richard loves to make music and sing. “It makes me feel good and does something to me. You have to follow the notes, so you don’t have time to think about other things and stress is gone for a while.” Not that Richard experiences his job as stressful, but as a math teacher and mentor at Het College in Weert, he experiences all kinds of things. “I have been a teacher for seventeen years and I still experience appreciation every day, even if it is only from one student.”
Richard was born in Doenrade, then municipality of Schinnen and now municipality of Beekdaelen. He studied Mathematics at Eindhoven University of Technology. “The great thing about math is that something is either true or false. It always stays the same and you don’t have to interpret it.” Richard obtained his PhD on a statistics assignment for Unilever and became an analyst at Vodafone. After a trip to Bayer Leverkusen, he returned to Vodafone in 2003. While looking for a house, he ended up in Weert and in 2006 he responded to the vacancy for a math teacher at what was then still called the Bisschoppelijk College. Richard is also politically engaged. He was a member of the municipal council of Schinnen for the CDA, later on the provincial party board and from 2006 to 2010 on the municipal council of Weert.
Richard has been actively involved in making music at a young age. From the age of twelve to the age of forty he played the flute with the civic guard in his native village Doenrade. After that, he did not touch a musical instrument for several years. “I missed the atmosphere and when an aunt asked to join the Spaubeek militia, I started playing the clarion there. Just say a trumpet with one valve.” Carefully Richard takes the clarion out of the case and shows the instrument.
Another passion of Richard is singing. He’s been doing that for about ten years now. When he and his ex-husband go to a concert by the Weerter mixed choir Vivace in the Munttheater, they get into a conversation with Harry Coolen, the alderman at the time. “Harry introduced us to his sister, who was with Vivace, saying, ‘Here are two new choir members.’ And that happened.” Richard and his ex-husband applied. “I can’t sing solo in four voices, but I can with a choir.”
S’ Opera Tutto
Vivace regularly organizes a away day, for which a professional is invited. On one of the away days, the choir members were taught by jazz singer and RICK teacher Shaunette Hildabrand. Afterwards, Shaunette walked up to Richard and said, “You have more in your voice than you let on. Come and visit me sometime and I will give you some tips.” From that moment on, Richard takes singing lessons with Shaunette Hildabrand. Shaunette is the driving force behind RICK’s S’ Opera Tutto course. She asked if Richard wanted to participate in this. This is how a passion for opera developed.
Seven men and eight women took part in the last edition of S’Opera Tutto. In fourteen weeks they rehearsed four-part choral works from well-known operas and each separately two arias. “You see your fellow singers grow. At first you think oh dear, that won’t work. But after two weeks you can already hear and see progress.” Shaunette Hildabrand accompanies the singers with tips and directions. Not only in terms of vocals, but also in terms of staging. The role play, how do you come on, what is an open attitude to the audience and how do you put your feet. Richard found the role play quite difficult, but he is getting better and better. “I have to do something that is outside my comfort zone.”
Richard thinks it’s great to sing an aria in front of an audience. A video was made of his performance that is on Facebook. Richard takes out his mobile phone and beams completely when he plays the recording of the aria sung by him Che Gelida Manina show and hear. “I want to keep doing this!”
The next edition of S’Opera Tutto will start on June 21, 2023. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.rickraakt.nl/cursusaanbod/reeks/s-opera-tutto.