The Act Too Studio teen Opera Workshop began in 2014 as a week-long intensive exploring the second act of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, and continues as an ongoing, student-driven entity. The workshop currently has twenty student participants between the ages of 13-18, at varying levels of vocal development and musical skill and experience, including a student director who works closely with the me to assemble and maintain a repertoire of classical and modern opera appropriate to the students’ developing voices. The students typically work on excerpts of larger works, and though this work is intended to be performed for the community, the focus of the workshop itself is very process-heavy. In order to bring their work to performance level, students are guided through deep musical and theatrical analysis of everything they do, along with study of the work’s cultural and historical context.
In 2015, Melinda directed the workshop’s first fully-staged production, Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Medium. In 2016, she collaborated with long-time friend and colleague James David Jacobs to adapt a collection of works by 17th-century composer Claudio Monteverdi into a full-length opera, Il sogno d’Arianna, with new scores edited from original sources and a new English adaptation created especially for the workshop’s teen singers. In 2017, again collaborating with Mr. Jacobs, Melinda directed a new adaptation of W.A. Mozart’s Così fan tutte. In 2018, Melinda created and directed a new adaptation of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, expanded to include more details from its source material (Virgil’s The Aeneid) by interpolating other works from the composer’s catalogue. Her current project for the workshop is a new English adaptation of Handel’s Rinaldo, to be performed in summer, 2019.
Act Too Studio provides serious, professional instruction in acting and vocal performance (including repertoire, technique, theory, and audition skills) for students of all ages, via private coaching sessions, group classes, and workshops. Melinda offers additional specialization in expressive singing and music appreciation heavily utilizing Dalcroze Eurhythmics methodology.
In 2014, Melinda directed the studio’s first full production, Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon’s Goblin Market.
Specialized classes & curriculum
Act Too Studio Professional Track This program is offered to select students who have demonstrated, through ongoing study, the potential to consider a career in the performing arts. Though students’ dreams may change, the discipline and creative thinking required for this kind of study will serve them on any path they may one day choose to follow. Classes Melinda has led for this program include:
Read more about Act Too Studio’s Professional Track here.
Music Appreciation: Total Arts Immersion: (view PDF) This ten-week music appreciation curriculum borrows techniques from Dalcroze Eurhythmics and Arts Integration programs as a means for indirectly addressing young students’ most common stumbling blocks: intonation, phrasing, musicality, and developing an emotional connection to music.
(Act Too Studio, summer 2013)
Acting & Manga: In this unique single-day course, Melinda combines her background in acting with her expertise in Japanese comics by using sequential art to help students understand the importance of silence, space, and emotional beats in their work.
(Act Too Studio, summer 2011)
Melinda Beasi spent the first eighteen years of her life learning about music and theater from her parents, Act Too Studio’s Bob and Jan Klump, after which she studied vocal performance at Carnegie-Mellon University in the studio of Dr. Lee Cass. She has performed at Pittsburgh’s Civic Light Opera, Pittsburgh Opera Theater, the Goodspeed Opera House, the Papermill Playhouse, the Olney Theater Center, and New York’s City Center among many others.
Melinda toured as Sophie in the First National Tour of Terrence McNally’s Master Class starring Faye Dunaway and as Kathy in The Night Kitchen’s Really Rosie, designed and directed by author Maurice Sendak. Other credits include Sweeney Todd with George Hearn and Judy Kaye, Strike Up the Band with Emily Loesser, Jason Danieley, and Kristin Chenoweth, and One Touch of Venus with Melissa Errico, David Alan Grier, and Jane Krakowski. In 2002, Melinda released an album of her original songs, Dorrie’s True Story. She has also appeared on albums by singer-songwriter Meghan Cary and rocker Tommy Grasso, and was an original member of alternative rock band The Steve Friday Band. Melinda is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
Notable directors Melinda has worked with include Leonard Foglia, Charles Repole, Michael Mayer, Michael Montel, Rob Marshall, Jim Petosa, and Maurice Sendak. Musical directors include Jeffrey Saver, Rob Fisher, Don Jones, James Valcq, and Michael O’Flaherty.
Act Too Studio’s Teen Opera Workshop is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of. It’s given me confidence. It’s made me feel a kind of joy I’ve never felt before. And it gives me hope that more people like me: young, black and queer, will get to have a place in the world of opera.
– Syl Simmons, Opera Workshop member
Melinda Beasi, the founder of [Act Too Studio Opera Workshop], has created opportunities for youth that they would never have had without this program. She has touched, and even changed, lives through the experiences they have.
– Karen Damouras, Parent
When I first started studying with Melinda, I didn’t realize how much of an impact our weekly lessons would have on me. Within a few months, I was hooked. I am now determined to pursue a career in classical singing. Opera is one of the most challenging, exciting and most beautiful art forms to study. When I first started taking lessons, it never occurred to me that being an opera singer meant not only knowing how to sing, but also acting and knowing multiple languages. It was both exhilarating and overwhelming. Thanks to Melinda and my peers, at Opera Workshop, I came to be comfortable with the various aspects of opera singing.
– Liam Shannon, Student
My daughter always looks forward to any opportunity she has to work with Melinda for voice lessons. Between the range and beautiful quality of Melinda’s voice, her performance experience, and her teaching skills, encouragement, and feedback, my daughter has learned valuable skills, expanded her own vocal range, and gained helpful insight and confidence in her abilities.”
– Lisa Seymour, Parent
Working with Melinda has taught me so much about music. It has not only improved my singing but has also improved my piano musicality.”
– Brandon Dallmann, Student
Melinda is a great teacher- Not only in the way that she is extraordinarily well educated in music and performance, but she also knows how to pull you out of your comfort zone (in a good way!) She’s someone who I feel completely comfortable around, regardless of how ridiculous we’re being.”
– Caroline Lee, Student
Melinda is one of the most talented people I have ever had the privilege of working with. She has an uncanny ability to see what’s needed in any situation and provide it, and her warm compassionate energy brings out the best in everyone. Melinda brings the depth of her extensive experience as a performer into the teaching studio — she really thinks everything through for her students and thoroughly prepares them for their performances. A true artist with a generous soul and rock-solid vocal technique: you couldn’t ask for a better teacher.”
— James David Jacobs, Musician, Composer, Teacher, Conductor