Sophia Jeffries and Jack Anderson Sing In the Opera Spotlight

Sophia Jeffries, 8th, and Jack Anderson, 7th, pose for a picture outside.

Raven Price

Sophia Jeffries, 8th, and Jack Anderson, 7th, pose for a picture outside.

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On Friday, March 17, and Sunday, March 19, Jack Anderson, 7th grade and Sophia Jeffries, 8th grade, will sing in the popular opera Dead Man Walking at the Saenger Theater. This opera is a musical that shows the struggles of Jacques De Rocher and other prisoners on death row. In the story, there are these poor orphans, and those are the roles Sophia and Jack have.

Both Jack and Sophia have had lots of experience with singing and opera. Sophia has been singing opera since she was in fourth grade. Sophia said, “I started singing because it’s just really fun and I really enjoy it.” She has done a few small productions in Pensacola Children’s Chorus. She was in the plays Cinderella and The Magic Flute. Jack started singing in Pre-K with a choir in Georgia and he liked it so much he stuck with it. Just like Sophia, Jack is in Pensacola Children’s Chorus. He has been in the chorus for four years. Jack has also been singing at the Pensacola Little Theater for the last two years and was in the productions Pippi Longstocking and Snow White. Along with this in fifth grade, Jack was in Sea Plane at the Saenger Theater. Jack does chorus on Thursdays and Mondays and has voice lessons. Sophia and Jack have been in many plays and operas. Throughout these plays, they’ve received lots of experience, which is one of the many reasons the director of Dead Man Walking, Alex Gartner, and professionals from the Pensacola Opera chose them for this opera.

Sophia and Jack in their chorus outfits on rehearsal night.

Sophia chose to audition for the opera because she heard from her friends that the production was fun and it would open many opportunities. Jack said he auditioned because, “I’m interested in singing and learning new things.” For the auditions, the sixteen opera singers, including Jack and Sophia, were chosen through a process in which the director used material from the opera score. This means the director had the singers remember and sing a song from the opera. They also had to do a rhythmic audition that included clapping exercises that were going to be used similarly in the opera. The director then sent the auditions to professionals at the Pensacola Opera and together they made a decision. This is Alex Gartner’s first year working with Jack and Sophia and he said, “They have to pour so much energy into their characters so that both their voices and acting can tell a moving story. They are very equipped to wow the audience.”

They have to pour so much energy into their characters so that both their voices and acting can tell a moving story.”

— Alex Gartner, Pensacola Children's Chorus

In the opera, Jack and Sophia are poor kids who wear ragged clothes. Both said that the characters were interesting because of the way they dress and their creepy characteristics. Alex Gartner said, “Artistry, commitment, and independence are crucial to any opera singer’s success, and they are very fit for their roles.” Sophia and Jack say that the people that they work with in the opera are the best thing about it. Jack said that they were very experienced individuals and he thought he would learn a lot from them. Sophia added that they were fun, awesome, talented people who were good friends. Jack and Sophia care a lot about singing and love it. Sophia said, “I think it’s nice when people are surprised by my voice.” Jack said, “I like singing because I can express my emotions through the song.”

Jack and Sophia love the opera, their roles, and the people they work with. They both are very talented people and amazing singers.

Please note: The opera Dead Man Walking, contains mature content. Therefore, The Dolphin Echo does not encourage middle school students to attend, but parents would love it!

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