Teaching/Coaching

Founder/Director of Act Too Studio Opera Workshop
South Hadley – Easthampton, MA
January 2014 – Present

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.

Associate Artistic Director at Act Too Studio
January 2013-Present (Vocal coach from 2009 – Present)

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. 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:

  • Expressive Singing – Heavily inspired by Dalcroze Eurhythmics methodology, this course uses movement, improvisation, and rhythmic dictation as tools with which to explore the core elements of musicality—pitch, dynamics, and rhythm—and their relationship to emotional intent.
  • Music Theory & Ensemble Singing – Based on student need and multiple requests, this class combines basic music theory (new for some, review for others) with the study of ensemble pieces from both musical theater and classical repertoire, so that students can begin to immediately apply what they’ve learned about theory to practical ensemble singing. This area of study is invaluable for any student hoping to succeed in professional musical theater.
  • Voice Class – Experience has shown that students can learn as much from watching each other as they can from their own private study. This monthly performance class provides Professional Track students the opportunity to share prepared studio and audition pieces with each other for guided group discussion and critique.
  • Musical Theater Literature & Repertoire – In this hands-on course, students are introduced to the rich history and vast repertoire of the American musical theater tradition by way of both archival recordings and their own study and performance. While this may appear on the surface to be an academic exercise, it is actually entirely practical. Even as commercial theater trends towards contemporary movie adaptations & jukebox musicals, regional and stock theater—the bread and butter of all young professionals—still churns out the classics, year after year. These students will acquire an understanding of the cultural context and common tropes of every era of musical theater, so that they may perform these works in a way that is dynamic, intelligent, and stylistically sound.
  • 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)

    Education

    BFA Vocal Performance, Carnegie Mellon University

    Voice Studio: Dr. Lee Cass Vocal Coaching: Wendy Bobbitt, LeAnn Overton
    Opera Workshop: Ralph Zitterbart Dance: Sam Piperato, Buddy Thompson
    Choral Studies: Dr. Robert Page Acting: Jill Wadsworth, Janice Dean

    Other areas of study: Dalcroze Eurhythmics (with Dr. Marta Sanchez); Solfege; Music History; Counterpoint; Music Theory; Italian, French, and German language and diction; Ethnomusicology; Jazz Vocals; The Roots of Rock & Roll (with Robert Palmer)

    Activities and Societies: Sigma Alpha Iota (International Music Fraternity), Carnegie-Mellon Concert Choir, Carnegie-Mellon Jazz Choir, performances as Hansel in Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel, Amy in Sondheim’s Company, and the Countess in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with Carnegie-Mellon music department.

    Professional biography

    Melinda 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. She 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’s experience also extends to casting, most recently for local children’s theater company FoodPlay Productions, where she was Managing Director until January, 2014.

    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.

    Recommendations

    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

    More Recommendations | Testimonials at Act Too Studio Opera Workshop