Biology Major Finds Her Way to Opera Stage
“I gave it a shot my first semester here and I fell in love with it. I’ve been doing it ever since,” sophomore Hanna Arrowsmith said of her passion for opera.
The biology and modern language major from Syracuse, Neb., is one of the stars in Nebraska Wesleyan’s annual opera production on April 7 and April 9. The Music Department will present a pair of operas, “Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night” and “Gallantry.”
Arrowsmith will perform in “Gallantry,” a sharp parody of a soap opera complete with commercial interruptions. When she enrolled at Nebraska Wesleyan as a pre-med student, opera wasn’t on her radar. An NWU vocal talent scholarship required her to participate in a music ensemble, but a busy semester filled with science classes and labs left little time to perform in the university’s vocal ensembles.
She found a late afternoon opera workshop that fit nicely into her schedule even though she had never belted an operetta in her life.
“When it all boiled down to it, me not being able to fit choir into my schedule, I just kind of went for it,” she said. It was so much fun and I am glad that it happened. I never saw myself doing it.”
Despite never planning to be an opera singer, Arrowsmith has grown to appreciate the art. She has continued her involvement even though her schedule allows more opportunities for other music ensembles.
“I really enjoy the element of surprise that’s associated with opera,” she said. “There are so many different operas and seeing everything come to life is just incredible. It’s a unique way to exercise my artistic freedom and to do something that’s just a little bit different than what everyone else does.”
Her career path continues to focus on the medical profession. She plans to attend graduate school and earn a degree in neuroscience with an intended career in psychiatry.
“Mental health is such a field that gets swept under the rug. There’s a lot of stigma around it. I feel like a lot of people don’t really know how to tap into that communication,” she said. “If we can’t express that and be open how we feel inside, bad things happen. I really hope to make an impact on that field some day.”
In addition to her academic studies and her opera workshops, Arrowsmith uses her modern language major in her volunteer work at Clinic With a Heart, a free healthcare clinic that provides medical, dental and mental health care services. She also started a new beekeeping club on campus.
“There are so many opportunities here,” she said. “If you have a wild idea and good intentions and good reasons it will usually go through and happen. I think that’s the best thing about Wesleyan — opportunities after opportunities.”
Nebraska Wesleyan’s spring opera is Friday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 9 at 3 p.m. in O’Donnell Auditorium. Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for seniors and students. Tickets are available at the door.
—Story by Emmalie Harris, public relations intern