Every day, Caroline Sambuco ’14 spends two and a half to three hours singing.
“Music has become the defining aspect of my Andover experience. Most people don’t realize this, but I actually spend an equal amount of time, if not more, practicing my music than a varsity athlete, whether I am practicing solo or in one of my various ensembles,” said Sambuco.
When Sambuco began her Junior year at Andover, she never imagined that classical singing would turn out to be her passion. Even though she had begun to take voice lessons and study musical theatre during her first year, it wasn’t until the summer after her Junior year that she realized she was ready to commit to opera.
“I honestly thought [classical singing] was kind of boring and old fashioned. But I’ve found out just how fun it really is… I love the emotion, musicality and difficulty that classical singing requires, and I’ve found that it has quickly become one of my obsessions,” said Sambuco.
Sambuco showed signs of her love for opera as a young child. She performed with the New York City Opera Company’s Children’s Chorus almost every day from the third to the sixth grade.
Along with her independent work in opera, Sambuco is an active participant in other parts of the Andover musical community. She is a member of Fidelio and the Phillips Academy Chorus, as well as Co-Head of Azure, Andover’s all-girls a capella group.
“Classical singing is one of the oldest and richest forms of music in existence. It differs from other types of singing, like pop or jazz, by its focus on training the head voice. It also emphasizes legato (smoothness), proper breath techniques and vocal control. Also, unlike pop singing, classical singing and opera place a lot of importance on expression and acting, as each song or aria has a very important and interesting story to tell,” said Sambuco in an email to The Phillipian.
To Sambuco, the proudest moment of her Andover singing career was her participation in the Winter Term performance of Dido and Aeneas, in which Sambuco sang the part of the main character, Dido.
“Seeing an entire opera come together so quickly and all the amazing student talent made me really proud to attend [Andover],” said Sambuco. “Andover presented me with the unique opportunity to star in an opera, an opportunity I never would have received had I been attending a different school.”
Sambuco’s Senior Concerto last Friday night, in which she performed alongside the Academy Symphony Orchestra, was the culmination of her time participating the Andover music program.
“I was really excited because I’d never sung with an orchestra before, so [the concert] was really a unique opportunity, especially for [a student] in high school,” said Sambuco. “I was excited to finally have the chance to show people all the work I had been doing.”
At the Senior Concerto, Sambuco performed two arias. She started off with a famous aria titled “O Mio Babbino Caro,” which translates to “Oh My Beloved Father.” The piece depicts the story of a young girl begging her father to help save her lover’s family from ruin.
“It’s ironic because the whole time, she’s saying ‘Daddy, please, please,’ but in reality she doesn’t care for him that much. She’s just using him to get what she wants,” said Sambuco.
“I was originally only planning to sing ‘Poor Wandering One,’ but after my audition this fall, [James] Orent[, Instructor in Music,] suggested ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ as an addition and I fell in love with it. The music is gorgeous,” she continued.
In contrast, “Poor Wandering One,” Sambuco’s second piece, exuded playful energy. The aria followed Sambuco’s character, who offers assistance to a recently stranded pirate she has just met.
“I specifically chose this [aria] because it had a lot of runs and high notes. Those are my areas of specially, and I wanted to show them off,” said Sambuco.
Elana King-Nakaoka ’14 said, “I have known Caroline all three years that I’ve been [at Andover], and I’ve never heard her perform like that. I was totally amazed at the range of her voice and how well she projected her voice.”
After graduation in June, Sambuco plans to continue displaying and cultivating her talent.
“In college, I’m going to try to keep on singing. Hopefully [I will be able to] do some operettas and operas,” said Sambuco. “I will definitely keep going to summer programs, because those are very helpful.”
“My advice to everyone with an interest in singing is to take voice lessons, and don’t shy away when your voice teacher asks you to learn a classical song! You may never know how much talent you have for it, I certainly didn’t!” said Sambuco.