Special Collections

Talmage Fauntleroy Opera Collection

Table of Contents

Special Collections
-Front Page
-Descriptive Summary
-Administrative Information
-Biography
-Scope and Content
-Series Description
-Container List

 

Talmage Fauntleroy portrait

Biography

Talmage Randall Fauntleroy was born in Hampton, Virginia on September 12, 1952. He attended the Hampton public schools, having graduated from Kecoughtan High in 1971. He continued his education at East Carolina University, where he received a bachelor's degree in music; and Howard University, where he received a master's degree in voice. He did further studies at the University of Illinois.

Grad school provided him his first experience in opera administration as an Administrative Intern at Opera America, and that internship in turn led to a Fellowship in Opera Administration with the National Endowment for the Arts. With each new encounter in opera production and administration, he realized how little he knew and how much more he had to learn. He was provided a training ground by the New Theater School of Washington, which led him to organize an Opera Workshop Program. Working with them from 1976 to 1980, he had the opportunity to begin studying and staging operas and opera scenes. His first operatic venture as stage director was Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, which the school produced in 1977. The NTS Opera Workshop also provided him valuable experience in organization and administration. He also began to seek out other training programs. Finally, by 1981, he decided to enroll in the language program at the University of Florence in Italy, as he had also discovered that languages were fundamental for the thorough preparation of an opera director. Again, the NEA came through with a grant to support a three-month stay in Italy. That he settled there and took residency was chance occurrence.

While studying Italian at the University, he had organized a group on Italian and non-Italian singers he had met, into an opera workshop. He staged opera scenes they selected as an exercise to keep everyone involved. He explained the project to an Italian friend who was a critic, inquiring about a performance space that might be available. The friend informed Fauntleroy that the music association, Firenze Lirica, was looking for a director of their defunct Opera Workshop, and he introduced Fauntleroy to its president. His Italian then was poor, but he had organized what they had envisioned; an opera program. So they hired him officially, gave him a small budget, an even smaller salary, and a performance space. They began as Firenze Lirica Studio in 1982 as a neighborhood opera workshop, and have since expanded to become an international operation, now known as STUDIO LIRICO, with its home base in Cortona and Anghiari in the Tuscany Region.

As a result of work and recognition gained with Studio Lirico, he was invited to appear as guest clinician and guest stage director in various European and U.S cities, which led to his appointment at Director of Opera Studies at the music conservatory in Livorno (Istituto Musicale "Pietro Mascagni"). Not only was this an honor and a first for an American to be teaching opera to students who are natives of the land of opera's birth, but for him still another opportunity to grow and perfect his skills. Talmage has been associated with productions of the Virgin Opera Association, Central City Opera, Washington Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera among others in the United States, and in Italy, with the Teatro Comunale of Florence and Teatro Alla Pergola, Florence. He has also been director of the Laboratories d'Interpretazian and has also conducted numerous opera workshops for colleges and universities in the United States as well as having been artistic Director of the La Guardia Music Theatre Studio of the City University of New York.

Talmage resided in Italy for ten or twelve years, when he became Director of the University of South Carolina Opera Program. He transferred sponsorship of Studio Lirico which he founded while in Italy to USC. The studio located in Cortona and Anghiari in Italy's Tuscany Region provided training in 18th Century Italian opera for young singers, stage directors and conductors from all over the world. Talmage took ill at the conclusion of the summer's session, where he died. He was funeralized and buried in Anghiari on July 27, 2002.

Image courtesy of the Piano Pedagogy Forum.

 

Columbia Departments Campus Libraries
Columbia Libraries and Collections