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New England Conservatory graduate found her voice and creativity at Western
Jennifer Caraluzzi '09

Bethel native Jennifer Caraluzzi is on the threshold of exciting new opportunities in her emerging career as a vocal performer — and she has not forgotten where she took on her first operatic challenges and learned to explore her artistic creativity.

“I had the privilege of working at WestConn with some of the finest music educators and performers,” said Caraluzzi, a 2009 WCSU graduate who last year received her master’s degree in music vocal performance at the New England Conservatory (NEC) in Boston.

 “It was important to me to have an environment that felt supportive,” she observed. “The faculty always encouraged us to get to the next level, and the size of the program makes it much easier to get the attention and support that young performers need. Many institutions can be cold and competitive, but I thrived at WestConn, and I believe that’s why many of us have done so well in the real world.”

Caraluzzi earned praise as a gifted singer during her undergraduate music studies at Western, marked by increasingly challenging vocal roles in WCSU Opera productions capped by her major role in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” during her senior year.

“’The Marriage of Figaro’ was one of the most fun experiences I have had on stage!” she recalled. “I was able to perform one of the greatest operas and roles ever written, with some of the most talented colleagues I know.” She shared the stage for that production with Hernan Berisso, a 2010 WCSU graduate who is currently pursuing studies at NEC. “To this day, we still talk about how great an experience and adventure ‘Figaro’ was for us.”     

Caraluzzi credited WCSU Professor of Music Dr. Margaret Astrup, vocal area coordinator in the music and music education department, for creating an exciting and challenging learning experience in the university’s opera productions. “The entire process with our opera performances at WestConn with Dr. Astrup was incredible,” she said. “If I hadn’t been in such a nurturing, encouraging and still competitive environment, I would not have thrived at New England Conservatory.”

Since her graduation from Western, Caraluzzi has continued to score performance breakthroughs including her selection in 2010 as winner of the 62nd annual Jenny Lind Competition for coloratura sopranos held in Bridgeport. One of her signature achievements was her performance in the role of Cunegonde in the 2011 NEC production of Leonard Bernstein’s operetta “Candide.” Critic Tony Schemmer wrote in the Boston Musical Intelligencer, “Caraluzzi was quite fabulous, nowhere more than in the preposterously over-the-top and fiendish showpiece, ‘Glitter and Be Gay.’”

She currently works in Boston on the staff of the NEC School of Continuing Education. She will sing for the 2012 summer season of the Opera Theater of St. Louis as one of the performers chosen for the theater’s prestigious Gerdine Young Artist program, taking on the roles of Frasquita in Bizet’s “Carmen” and Despina in Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte.”

While she has achieved her most noteworthy accomplishments in the areas of opera and classical music, Caraluzzi emphasized that students in Western’s music program benefit most from the opportunity to explore a diversity of musical genres and test the boundaries of their artistic creativity.

“The ability to be creative and to be free to express myself was another part of why I loved my experience at WestConn,” she said. “As a classical major, I was in the operas and did all the required classes, but I also wanted to do a jazz combo. The faculty encouraged me to do this, and it greatly improved my versatility.

“My advice to current students is to take advantage of all the tools and opportunities at WestConn,” she observed. “A performance career is about much more than just performing at school, and the faculty and university are supportive of students who go that extra mile. Ask questions, search beyond the campus, get out and see who’s performing and doing what you want to be doing. New York is so accessible from WestConn, so don’t hesitate to check out the rich culture and music the city has to offer.

“Look for your own opportunities to perform locally — again, the university and the faculty will support you, and this is what you need to be able to do to succeed in this career,” she said. “And remember: Networking and keeping the relationships and connections you’ve made at WestConn are so important!”

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