Vocal performance students share disappointment in recitals, opera cancellations


Ella Dominguez

Duerksen Fine Arts Amphitheater sits empty.

This week, Wichita State University decided to take preventive measures against COVID-19 by moving all in-person classes to online for the remainder of the semester and canceling all events on campus.This decision has come without consequence to the School of Music. 

Vocal performance students, such as sophomore Ashley Ruckman, were set to perform the opera, “Cosi fan Tutte,” this weekend at Miller Concert Hall. 

“[We] officially started rehearsal after winter break,” Ruckman said. “But we’ve been preparing by ourselves for months before that.”

Ruckman has been preparing to play the role of Despina, but with the announcement that classes will be held online for the rest of the semester, the little hope the cast and crew had to reschedule the show has evaporated. 

“It’s definitely taken its toll on my mental health in general. I can’t speak for everyone but we are all very deeply saddened,” Ruckman said. “It’s been really tough, we didn’t think corona was going to hit so fast, so we were like ‘okay, they’re gonna start canceling things after spring break.’ We didn’t think it was going to be before. So we are all just in shock still.”

Junior and senior recitals have also been impacted. Junior Ashleigh Burrow, who is double majoring in vocal performance and music education, decided to turn her junior recital dress rehearsal into a “pop-up recital” about a week earlier than she was set to perform. 

“I decided to open up my dress rehearsal, at the moment that was what I was calling it, to the public, family and friends. I decided to invite people and treat it as a real recital, hence, the pop-up recital term,” Burrow said.

Burrow gave her friends and family an hour’s notice before the show. She also performed without the usual amenities that scheduled recitals are provided with. 

“I decided to just go ahead and get it done,” Burrow said. “Thankfully since the faculty members and my voice teacher were there, and I had real programs and real lighting, we ran it as a real recital so it counts as my junior recital. Thankfully, it is officially recognized.”

Although her family members and some of her close friends were unable to make it to the pop-up recital on such short notice, Burrow still considers herself to be lucky.

“I have a number of friends who have scheduled their recitals further out into this extended spring break, who really have no idea how they are going to be able to get that requirement satisfied,” Burrow said. “So I got really lucky that the faculty were able to come and were okay with the fact that I would have extra people there.”

Although the cancellation of performances have proven to be a burden, Burrow does believe that Wichita State made the right decision.

“I do believe that we can all come together in solidarity to protect the health of those that may not necessarily be aware of. Especially those at high risk; the elderly, the children,” Burrow said. “So even if the majority of the population at Wichita State is younger, in-their-prime college students, I think we need to be a part of the spearheading of taking care of each other and making sure that we are being considerate of the most vulnerable of our population.”

Ruckman on the other hand, considers it to be a difficult decision that’s been paired with mass hysteria. 

“I think that obviously the health of the students is the most important thing, however, I think there is something to be said about the slight overreaction,” Ruckman said. “To me, more people have died from the flu than corona and we don’t really care about the flu. I think it’s kind of a mass hysteria.”

Although the cancellation of the opera was sad news to Ruckman, not being able to spend time with the cast and crew has proven to be her biggest disappointment. 

“I just want to say that the cast that we have has been so amazing. The hardest part has been realizing that I don’t get to keep performing with them and make music with them this semester. We all love each other so much and we have all gotten so close,” Ruckman said. “ I just miss them so much, that probably has been the hardest thing.”