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Are You Ready to Take on New Beginnings?

Opera del Sol believes that music can heal, and three of its members discuss the impact of their ongoing creative efforts in the final installment of their webinar series.

How Music Can Help Heal Wounds of Addiction:

Are You Ready to Take on New Beginnings?

Estimated watch time: 45 mins

Available credits: none

Presentation Materials:

  1. Nicole Dupre, founder and creative director of Opera de Sol
  2. Theresa Smith-Levin, executive director of Opera de Sol
  3. Nishaa Johnson, artistic director of Opera de Sol

Ready to Take on New Beginnings Presentation

Welcome to the Community Education Series, hosted by The Recovery Village and Advanced Recovery Systems. 

Nicole:

I want to thank you guys so very much for tuning in and tuning in to our five-part series. Today, I am joined by our CEO and artistic director of Opera Del Sol, and since you heard a little bit about me, I’m going to let them introduce themselves and tell you a little bit about them before we get into the presentation a little bit more. So Theresa, let’s start off. Tell everybody a little bit more about you. 

Theresa:

Hello, friends. My name is Theresa Smith-Levin. I’m the founder and executive director of Central Florida Vocal Arts, which is the sister umbrella company of Opera del Sol. Nicole and I met in 2017 and we’re very like-minded in the missions of our organization, so it made sense for Opera del Sol to join the family that is Central Florida Vocal Arts. We are so thankful for the opportunity to have a uniquely female impact on the arts team here in Orlando, and we exist towards the mission of building a better community through arts education, appreciation and performance. So obviously, this webinar series is a part of that — using art and using music to challenge and uplift our community through the different problems that we may encounter. 

You can see on the screen a little bit more about me. I have always sort of found myself in leadership positions, but I’m also a born empath, meaning I am very deeply connected with people. I feel people’s emotions, and so I think that’s a big reason why we’re moving our organization in the direction of making sure that we’re using art as a platform for social good. I attended the University of Central Florida. I have an undergraduate degree in music education with a minor in Spanish, and my master’s degree is in vocal performance from the University of Miami. I’ve won an array of different awards, both for my singing as well as my acting. I produced a one-woman show at the Orlando Fringe Festival in 2018. That was a Patron’s Pick and Matt Palm “Best of Fest.” In addition to producing and leading an arts organization, I am also a performer myself. I think we’ll talk a little bit more about that in the series today — about how music and performance has deeply impacted my journey in life. 

Nicole:

Awesome. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, Theresa. Next, I am so excited to introduce Nishaa Johnson. If you guys have been listening to the past few webinars, it is very important to know (she will go in deeper detail) she is the mastermind behind all these incredible, musically arranged performances we’ve brought to you. So Nishaa, tell everybody a little bit more about yourself. 

Nishaa:

Absolutely. Thank you, Nicole. I am the artistic director of Opera del Sol in Central Florida Vocal Arts. I met Theresa in 2004, and that’s where we connected with each other. When she started Central Florida Vocal Arts in 2012, I joined the team in early 2013. So I’ve been a part of the team since the very, very beginning, and I’m super proud of all of the work that we have done in the community to help with healing and to make music more accessible. A little bit about me: I just recently graduated from UCF. I was a graduate teaching assistant there, so I taught piano, and I also teach at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida, which is near Clermont if you’re familiar.

I am 34-and-a-half weeks pregnant, so if you’ve watched that episode a couple of weeks ago, it featured me singing in one of the clips. You could definitely tell that I was pregnant then, and I still am now. Music is something that has always resonated with me very deeply. I find joy in being able to tell stories and to be able to impact people and heal them with those stories. So that is the basis behind a lot of the work that I create with the arranging — trying to find ways to really bring a different message. You know we all have a great love for opera, and the pop fusion elements that we like to put into our arrangements make it so that opera is more accessible. In one of the pieces that you’re going to hear today — I will get to it in a bit — you’ll hear that fusion element, and it’s one of the things that really, really makes me feel so proud to be a part of such an innovative organization.

Nicole:

Yeah, definitely. I think we’ve made this really incredible team, and organically. With our involvement throughout Central Florida and throughout the community, I think that we’ve really started to cultivate a really incredible identity as an organization. And we are so happy to be here with you today. How this all started: This five-part series started because, as you can see, we had originally wrote an original production that was about one woman’s path through addiction and Nishaa chose different music that really told the story. So, when everything was shut down, we tried to think, “You know, how can we still use this music?”

Because we knew that this was such an impactful story, we started to get involved with a local organization here — you heard in my introduction — called Project Opioid. During that introduction, we started to really be presented with the statistics and the data of what this crisis is doing to our community. And not just in our community — throughout the entire country. Then when the shutdown happened, we just continued to see those numbers rise, so I was very thankful when The Recovery Village approached us because they had seen us perform a song from this and had heard about my personal journey through losing a loved one through addiction. And we came up with this idea of how we could really raise awareness for Recovery Awareness Month but then also use our gifts to try to present and help to tell you how we believe music can really help heal the wounds of addiction. So over the last few weeks, we have taken five songs from that show that we were going to present, and we’ve taken each song and developed an entire conversation around that. 

We started week one with “Take Your Broken Heart and Make It Into Art,” and this was very personal for me. I chose this one to be our first webinar series to tell you a little bit more about me and just how addiction affected my life and my husband. He had dealt with addiction for many years while we were together and then he ultimately passed away in 2017. That was the same year that I found Opera del Sol, and I just really wanted to share with you how music became a part of my life and has really helped me in the healing process of being affected by addiction, like I know that so many other people throughout this country are. 

Week two: That’s when Theresa and Nishaa had joined me as well. This one was a really great one. I may allow Theresa and Nishaa to tell you a little bit more — I really let them kind of tell their journey of being young mothers and a mother-to-be, like Nishaa mentioned. And how they — you know, hearing these statistics and going through this production process — how that affected them and why they became passionate to pursue this production and really bring this project to life. 

Theresa:

So, what I can say as a mother — I have two small children. I have a little boy who turns three tomorrow and a little girl who turned one at the end of August. So, I have two little people who are just my whole world, and my prayer every night is that I am a part of making a better world for them to live in and trying to make sure that we are solving the problems that we’ve created. So the world that they live in is a little less dark and a little easier for them to live in than it is for us. So in any way that we can be a part of solving some of our community’s issues, I am here for it. This is something that affects so many in our community; it doesn’t discriminate, and I want us to be part of making it a little bit better for my children, but for your children too. I don’t want anybody to have to suffer the loss of a child — to me, it’s unimaginable. We want to be a part of using the platform that we have to get the message out and hopefully make a difference.

Nishaa:

Just to add on, I feel very much the same as Theresa. Though my little person is not here yet, she will be here in five-and-a-half weeks or maybe sooner — we’ll see. But I feel very much the same way. I find, myself, that I want to be a better person because of this little person, and I want for all of the new generation of kids to grow up in an environment where they feel loved and where they feel supported and where they don’t have to deal with the discrimination and the segregation that we’ve had to deal with, especially the last several years. 

So when we did this particular song this week — actually got the song suggestion from Theresa — I used elements of things that we had already come up with for other pieces to fuse together for this one. So, it was a very personal project to work on this particular song because it was definitely something that Theresa and I did collaboratively. I took her idea for how she felt as a mother-to-be, not knowing at that time that I would be, but she was already a mother. You might’ve been pregnant back when we were talking about it, but it’s been a journey. We just like to use our music to be able to — from our own experiences, where we’re using our own experiences — to be able to create pieces that can heal. 

Nicole:

Great, well said. Then that led to our week three, and that was “How Do We Connect To Generation Z and How To Get Them To Care.” And this felt like a great progression from speaking from mothers with small children then kind of going into the next generation — Generation Z are those that are between, I believe, 13 and 24 — and how we can connect with them. That was really kind of almost why we chose a lot of, I think, this pop fusion. I feel like we really realized how music can be very nostalgic, and it was really kind of fun when Nishaa would find music that we knew could connect. And during that presentation, we really kind of honed in and told everybody opioid overdoses are the No. 1 killer of those 40 and under. It has now surpassed that of car accidents. 

We really believe that when it came to this presentation, we said things like, “We believe you should meet them where they are.” This is a generation that just, despite what people may think, they’re very, very passionate about today’s issues. Again, that’s why we like using music. Then during that, we just said, “Be honest.” Maybe you don’t know what the opioid crisis is. Maybe you don’t know how it’s affecting them. Maybe you don’t — you know, a lot of us do not know. That is why I believe that, now that we’ve been home for so long, we’ve seen these drastic 50% to 60% in some communities in overdoses. So, be honest — share that data. I mean, this is a generation — they tell you, excuse my French, they don’t like bullshit. And that is one of those “tell them like it is.” They have the information at their fingertips, and I think that that’s the best way that we can really reach out to that generation — not to hide the reality and to figure out unique and creative ways to connect with them. That was a really great presentation, I want to think. I received a lot of emails about that one, and so again, if you’re interested in hearing more about that webinar, please reach out to us because that one was a really great one to do. I really liked hearing how it really affected some of you.

Then last week, our week four seminar was, “The Causes of Despair and Knowing You Are Not Alone.” I kind of talked about, again, we are seeing such an increase in not just overdoses, but suicide attempts, increase in usage and just overall despair. I think that this is one of the first times that we are seeing in our lifetime such a traumatic global event. Where I believe that for the first time, we may be able to understand others in a way that we’ve not been able to understand because you’re not alone. So many people are being affected by this. I think that I saw that it was 90% of people that are being polled — and I would think more — will say that somehow or another, COVID-19 has affected them. Then we just really had time to talk to you, and I had a couple of fun slides in there about even using just a little bit of music history to show you that over the years, there’s been a lot of dramatic events and a lot of harsh ways of life. Where over history, people have used music to heal them and to get through some of the hardest things. 

I had talked about the drummers in the Revolutionary War. There, they are — I mean, does it get any more intense than that? — using music to boost morale. Hymns that were developed in the cotton fields and for the slaves to try to feel some sort of comfort when they were going through such hard oppression. Just over the years — how music has really been there when we’ve been going through something that is so deep. And for the first time, I think this is a time that we can all really understand what it may feel like to hurt right now. Now, I think that’s a great segway into our week five. 

Are you ready to kind of take on those new beginnings? Because we truly believe that everybody has a story, and we believe that music can really help. I really want to kind of give it up to Theresa and Nishaa. I asked them to tell us — you guys have heard from me over the last few weeks and told you how music really helped heal parts of my life, but I’m excited to kind of hear from two different people. For you guys to hear how they’ve used not only their performing, but also their teaching, and then just also their absorption of music at certain times and how that has helped them. So, who would like to go first — Theresa? And then, Nishaa, I would love to for you to share your story as well. 

Theresa:

I think everybody — regardless of whether or not you’re a musician, consider yourself a singer or not — finds music to be a human experience. That’s why it is so significant at so many points in human history. Anthropologically, when you look at our history as a species, you’ll see that music has been a part of us since the very start. As a voice teacher myself, I’ve told Nicole this — I’ll tell anyone this — there’s no such thing as somebody who can’t sing or doesn’t have a voice. You just haven’t learned to use it yet. If you can talk, you can learn to sing, and so singing and music-making is a human experience. 

From the time I was very, very little, I loved to sing. My children, especially my daughter, seems to have that propensity too, but I just always loved that. I was forcing my cousins to do shows with me, and so that part was kind of always there. And then, like many people who find themselves in addiction or other significant life struggles, I have my own demons and my own childhood trauma that I don’t talk a lot about. But I often wonder if it weren’t for music, if it wasn’t for that role in my life, what would have happened? I found a safe place. I found a home in singing. I found a home in performing and I found a home in chorus. I was able to matter there. I was able to be seen there; I was able to work through unprocessed emotions and have the catharsis of music-making so that I could grow into the adult that I am today.

So in that way, I very much work through a lot of the pain that comes in life. I think when you look at the studies, when you look at the data, the biggest predictor of if someone is going to struggle with addiction is their ACE score — their adverse childhood experience. Having a way to deal with that in a healthy way, I think, is so important. I think when we look at that being the source of a lot of the issues that we have, you can’t vilify people who struggle with addiction — you have to look at it as this is a coping mechanism. I think music is a healthy coping mechanism; it’s a way to heal the trauma rather than to continue the trauma in a new form. So for me, I don’t know who I am without that role in my life. 

Nicole:

Thank you. That was beautiful, Theresa. I feel that a lot of people can relate to that. Thank you so much for sharing and for being vulnerable and sharing that with us. And now, Nishaa, I’m excited to hear a little bit more about your journey. 

Nishaa:

Yeah. For me too, music has always been an integral part of my life. I mean, I went off to college and I studied music, even though it didn’t really make sense to do so. My biggest trauma in my life did not happen until I was in my late 20s, early 30s, when I was diagnosed with infertility, which you know — this is why I’ve been talking about this pregnancy so much each time I come on. It’s because I went through years of infertility in which I was not able to conceive, and then when I did, I was not able to sustain the pregnancies. So for me, it’s always been something that’s helped me through that. This pregnancy was a miracle pregnancy. I really, honestly, should not have been able to conceive. We don’t know how it happened. It’s been something that has been very challenging, even in the beginning stages. 

I found out that I was pregnant right as we started quarantine. So literally, I was living by myself at that time and having to deal with the thoughts and the resurfacing feelings of the losses that I’ve been through in the past and have to deal with that. We had so many things through Central Florida Vocal Arts — I shout out our organization because we did so many things that really helped heal my heart as I was going through this hard time and concerned about maybe losing this child as well. We did a Making Art Heals Hearts campaign. We did a Black Voices Matter campaign. We did virtual institutes where we spent time with our children and really taught them to feel. These are all things that, even as an adult, it’s really important to put yourself in a situation where you can deal with your demons now so that you can continually heal. It’s not just when you’re a child. We have all of those resources within our organization, and I’m so thankful because it really helped me through such a hard time. 

Nicole:

I like that. Thank you so much. I can attest to that, and I think that it’s been really great to have women that feel just like us. I think that collectively, we have been able to be vulnerable with one another and be honest with one another about the process of our healing and how we are just really, really passionate. In some ways, I think this — for us now having to be at home and having to force ourselves to do things virtually — it’s really helped us to figure out new and innovative ways. I do, again, I thank you all for being here today because this is really great for us, just as much as it is for you. Giving us the opportunity to talk about our art and to be able to perform for you has really been great for us, and we thank you. 

We really believe, sometimes, music is the best medicine. Again, we are not counselors; we really are taking this journey based on our personal journeys and how we have had the education or the experience on how we can truly use music to help others heal. I just, I love — this is one of my favorite graphics. I had it as one of my screensavers for a very long time. This is where I think music can be the best medicine. I have a couple of examples of how we think that you can start to think about bringing music into your life or into your patient’s life. I like to say everyone has a favorite song; it doesn’t matter who you are, so that really shows that everybody loves music. You might not like every kind of music, but I think that everybody can agree that there’s a song. Everybody has that hype-up song that gets you jazzed up when you need it, or you have that one that takes you sometimes. I love the — oh, that’s right. You said we’ll play the video for you here in a moment. Listening to music can be very therapeutic. 

We’ll go through what we think and then we’ll end with the video once we’re done with these next few slides. Then I’d like Nishaa to tell you a little bit more about — sometimes, it’s the making of the music, because Nishaa is an incredible pianist. Again, she’s the one that kind of put a lot of the actual music elements together for a lot of the productions that I do. So Nishaa, tell us how making music could really help someone, or maybe they could help their patient get through something and how that could help someone heal. 

Nishaa:

I mean, I am always a proponent of music lessons, whether it’s singing lessons or piano lessons or whatnot. I actually picked up the ukulele at the beginning of the quarantine because that was my way of healing and coping with the change in everything. So I mean, for me, I can sit at my piano for hours and just play because it just is something that fulfills my heart. I think for everyone, there is a piece of music. There is a song or there is something you can do or learn, no matter how old you are, that can help to add to your healing process as well.

Theresa:

I want to jump in, too, because you said something that I think is so important. People start to think that they’re out of a certain age so they cannot learn to sing or they can’t do anything. The oldest voice student I ever taught was 92 years old. She sang at church and she wanted to learn how to sing, so I gave her voice lessons. We actually have a class that runs at the Mayflower Retirement Community. That is a group voice class for the residents there. They are between 75 and early 90s, and the aim was at people who always wanted to sing and express themselves musically but never felt confident to do so. I often do presentations called “Finding Your Voice,” and it’s that you can use music as a platform to be expressive and to share your truth. 

I think Nishaa and I can both attest to the fact that, while we are not counselors, the relationship that you have with a voice teacher is very intimate. I mean, a lot of times, the way these lessons look is a lot of times like music therapy — you’re working through what you have in your life. By going through the music in that way — the repertoire that we select, the way that we learn to sort of deal with our own demons and how they show up in your vocal technique — it can be a really wonderful, special thing. So I would say, like, I started with “music is for everyone.” And if that’s something that you’re drawn to, don’t feel limited by these self-imposed insecurities or, “I’m too old,” or, “I’m not talented enough.” Just try it; see if it works for you. Music therapy is actually a whole degree program that you can study at university. That is how significant music can be in the healing process. 

Nicole:

Definitely. You know, we just talked about how you can try to sing or you can try to pick up an instrument, but if you are feeling like maybe that’s not a path on how to be involved in music, I really wanted to put this light in here because you could always try volunteering — being around the process. A little thing about me: I usually say I can’t sing, but like Theresa says, everybody can sing. I actually took some vocal lessons from Theresa and I do a lot of public speaking and I’m on the radio, and even just those techniques on how to breathe and things have helped me in my daily life. 

The reason that I bring that up is because I wasn’t brought into music, but through education, I was brought into music by the sheer love. You know, my grandparents took me when I was a kid and then I started volunteering backstage in my very early 20s. That is really how I developed the love so much of music, and performing was being a part of the process. And right now, the arts organizations all across the world — not just in our country and not just in our community here in Florida — have been greatly affected. So if you’ve ever wanted to volunteer, I think it’s a really great way to get involved if you’d like. Again, this is all permitting the COVID-19 and how your community is opening up, but if you are trying to think about bringing music into your life, possibly volunteering could actually help you feel a part of the process. And honestly, that’s one of my favorite parts — helping with the costumes, helping with the sets, thinking of hair and makeup design. There’s so many things that can actually get you interested in and get you a part of a music organization. 

Of course, we went — here in Central Florida — almost seven months without seeing live music, and I know what that did to my heart. So what I would say — again, to how you could bring music into your life when things are open and your community allows — go experience live performance. Check your local listings, go see community theater, sometimes the universities, just help out whatever arts organizations. And I say help out ‘cause that’s what your ticket price will do. But ultimately, experiencing that live music for yourself, I think, can be extremely, extremely therapeutic. Actually, Theresa and I and our significant others went for the first time to a performance, and I can tell you, I didn’t realize how much I had missed it until I was sitting inside that theater. 

I have to tell you, we both, like, started tearing up, like I can’t believe we are actually getting to experience this. Because sometimes, it’s just that energy of not just the performers, but of the collective experience that you’re having with everyone else. There’s something that can be so powerful about laughing together, about crying together, about hating that one character together. I think that that’s something that I would really love again. When you’re starting to think, “How can I bring music into my life when things are opening?” Maybe if you haven’t thought about opera or you haven’t thought about the ballet, or even haven’t thought about going to see your local community theater, really start to think about that — especially when you’re starting to feel your heart and you’re feeling yourself to go to a certain place. This is something that I think could really help to heal and help to really make you feel a part of the energy again. 

We have just mentioned so many different ways that music can touch someone’s heart, and you’ve heard us talk a little bit more throughout this series and today about a show that we had written called Requiem. I want our musical ladies to tell you a little bit more about what that particular show was like. This particular song that we’re doing — I chose this one for the last one because you’re going to see elements blended in from the last weeks’ few performances. And I think it’s just this incredible arrangement that is very powerful. Nishaa will tell you just a little bit more about the story, and then we’ll go into the video. Knowing just only a tad of what that story is, I think that Nishaa’s really captured what she was feeling — what drug addiction can feel like — in just a five-and-a-half-minute performance. I’ll let her just tell you briefly a little bit to set the video up, and then when Nishaa is done, we’ll play that. I’m excited for you all to see how music can just so easily tell a very emotional story, especially about something like addiction. So Nishaa, tell everybody a little bit more about the video we’re going to show everyone.

Nishaa:

Yes, absolutely. When we actually started creating this project, we had performed certain segments of it at the Creative City Project “Immerse” downtown last year.

Nicole:

In Orlando. A lot of people are not from here, so yeah. From Orlando. 

Nishaa:

Nicole and I — we got together one day and we were just talking and laughing at one point in time. I think I was standing on a table because I was so inspired by the things that Nicole and I were coming up with for this whole idea. As I was creating this particular piece, which was — I think it was probably one of the very first ones that I arranged — I was trying to figure out what is this classical element that I can bring into this piece. I was so stuck on Mozart. That was in my mind and I was like, “I have to figure out how this is going to work.” So I finally did, and I have to be honest. I mean, Mozart is one of my favorite classical composers. I’m sure all of you have heard something by Mozart at some point in time, and I think that his music is so passionate, and even though everybody knows, there’s a reason for that. I am so inspired at the things that he did in the 35 years of his life. It’s like, what am I doing with my life when this person wrote all of this amazing music? 

I created this medley of Evanescence and Mozart’s Requiem, and you kind of get to hear how it all pieces together. I will say that, but the whole idea behind it was just to tell the story. As we saw how this first segment of it came out at the “Immerse” Creative City Project Festival in downtown Orlando in 2019, we were like, “This is what I see.” And then Nicole — when she finally saw visually, she related it so much to her experience with what she had gone through with her husband that we were like, “We have to make this bigger.” We have to make this bigger because it can — we felt how much it impacted us just watching it. We were like, “We have to get this to a bigger stage so we can really tell the story.” So we enlisted the help of a writer, Michael Knight, who also lives here in Orlando, and he wrote our script for us. 

We started to work out a storyline so we could really understand what addiction does to people, and what we found is that it’s not like it can be one thing that makes somebody go down this rabbit hole of addiction. It is a series of traumas and a series of issues that bring them to that point. And if we can help people to learn how to be more empathetic and more understanding and just be more educated on this topic, then maybe we can help stop this crisis or help decrease the number of deaths that are occurring because of this. And that is our goal with this whole project. So, Theresa, would you like to add anything? 

 

Theresa:

Not really. I just think you guys are fabulous. I love everything that we’re doing. I think that when it came to the concept of, like, “This is an important issue. We can use our voice to make an impact,” It was without hesitation. Yet, this is something that we need to do. So obviously, we had intended to go one way and then COVID is here, so I just think we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to share it with you in this format. Hopefully in the future, we’ll be able to gather again and we’ll be able to do it full-scale, but thank you for giving us purpose and letting us still use this beautiful piece of art that Nicole and Nishaa created to be able to serve its purpose.

(Woman singing)

How can you see into my eyes like open doors

Leading you down into my core

Where I’ve become so numb

Without a soul

My spirit’s sleeping somewhere cold

Until you find it there and lead it back home

Wake me up inside 

Wake me up inside

Call my name and save me from the dark

Bid my blood to run

Before I come undone

Save me from the nothing I’ve become

Now that I know what I’m without

You can’t just leave me

Breathe into me and make me real

Bring me to life

Wake me up inside 

Wake me up inside

Call my name and save me from the dark

Bid my blood to run

Before I come undone

Save me from the nothing I’ve become

Wake me up inside

Bring me to life

I’m frozen inside without your touch

Without your love, darling

Only you are the life among the dead

Lacrimosa dies illa

Qua resurget ex favilla

Lacrimosa dies illa

Qua resurget ex favilla

Lacrimosa dies illa

Qua resurget ex favilla

I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems

Have to open my eyes to everything

Bring me to life

Wake me up inside 

Wake me up inside

Call my name and save me from the dark

Bid my blood to run

Before I come undone

And save me from the nothing I’ve become

Wake me up inside

Bring me to life

(Singing ends)

Nicole:

It gives me goosebumps every time. I hope you all — like, in a few moments, we’d love for you to all turn on your cameras and get we’d love your feedback — I hope that you guys really kind of felt what Nishaa and I guess we really wanted you to feel, and how she just really took music from different genres and different time periods and was able to string together a story. And that really leads into, “How can we help you? How can Opera del Sol help you?” The really great thing about our organization is that we are all about collaboration. We are all about doing original productions, and you’ve heard our stories about how we are so passionate to bring music to you. We have made music our life. And whatever we can do to help bring it to yours — we’d love to collaborate or brainstorm with you about future webinars that we can offer to you and organizations. Theresa and Nishaa had mentioned that we also offer online vocal lessons and that we were going to continue to try to think of new and innovative ways to bring music online in this day and age. Whatever we can do to bring our organization and our abilities and talents and how we can help others — we are really passionate about that, and we would love to hear from you. 

So if you are all interested in giving us, you know, kind of talking to us, we would love to hear from you if you’d like to turn your cameras on. If you are interested in emailing us or going to our websites to learn a little bit more about what we do and what we’ve done in the past, right there is all of our information. Again, this has been a really incredible experience. Some of my favorite parts of these webinars have been at the end when I hear from you and what music has done for you and your healing process or how it’s helped your patients, or how you want to use music in your life to help others. It’s been a really great process, and we thank you so very much for joining us for these last five weeks and spending five hours with us. Because we are passionate about using music to heal the wounds of addiction, and however we can help heal any sorts of wounds, we’d like to do that. 

Theresa:

Just again, don’t limit yourself. Thank you for having not only our art, but art from everywhere. Art is self-care, so taking the time to experience art, to make art, to refill your creative and artistic cup, is so important. It’s a way to heal. It’s a healthy way to explore all that you’re capable of — you probably don’t even know what that is yet. 

Nishaa:

I just want to thank you all for being with us for this one and for all of the other webinars and our series, and just sharing that and being open for us to share this art with you. 

Thank you for watching this video. We hope you enjoyed the presentation.

Summary:

In the final presentation of a five-part series on music and recovery, three members of Opera del Sol reflect on previous discussions and talk about the impact the previous weeks have had. The members go into further depth about what music means to them, how it influences others and how good it feels to share their message with attendees, community members, young people and those who are going through difficult times.

Presentation Materials:

  1. Nicole Dupre, founder and creative director of Opera de Sol
  2. Theresa Smith-Levin, executive director of Opera de Sol
  3. Nishaa Johnson, artistic director of Opera de Sol

Ready to Take on New Beginnings Presentation

Welcome to the Community Education Series, hosted by The Recovery Village and Advanced Recovery Systems. 

Nicole:

I want to thank you guys so very much for tuning in and tuning in to our five-part series. Today, I am joined by our CEO and artistic director of Opera Del Sol, and since you heard a little bit about me, I’m going to let them introduce themselves and tell you a little bit about them before we get into the presentation a little bit more. So Theresa, let’s start off. Tell everybody a little bit more about you. 

Theresa:

Hello, friends. My name is Theresa Smith-Levin. I’m the founder and executive director of Central Florida Vocal Arts, which is the sister umbrella company of Opera del Sol. Nicole and I met in 2017 and we’re very like-minded in the missions of our organization, so it made sense for Opera del Sol to join the family that is Central Florida Vocal Arts. We are so thankful for the opportunity to have a uniquely female impact on the arts team here in Orlando, and we exist towards the mission of building a better community through arts education, appreciation and performance. So obviously, this webinar series is a part of that — using art and using music to challenge and uplift our community through the different problems that we may encounter. 

You can see on the screen a little bit more about me. I have always sort of found myself in leadership positions, but I’m also a born empath, meaning I am very deeply connected with people. I feel people’s emotions, and so I think that’s a big reason why we’re moving our organization in the direction of making sure that we’re using art as a platform for social good. I attended the University of Central Florida. I have an undergraduate degree in music education with a minor in Spanish, and my master’s degree is in vocal performance from the University of Miami. I’ve won an array of different awards, both for my singing as well as my acting. I produced a one-woman show at the Orlando Fringe Festival in 2018. That was a Patron’s Pick and Matt Palm “Best of Fest.” In addition to producing and leading an arts organization, I am also a performer myself. I think we’ll talk a little bit more about that in the series today — about how music and performance has deeply impacted my journey in life. 

Nicole:

Awesome. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, Theresa. Next, I am so excited to introduce Nishaa Johnson. If you guys have been listening to the past few webinars, it is very important to know (she will go in deeper detail) she is the mastermind behind all these incredible, musically arranged performances we’ve brought to you. So Nishaa, tell everybody a little bit more about yourself. 

Nishaa:

Absolutely. Thank you, Nicole. I am the artistic director of Opera del Sol in Central Florida Vocal Arts. I met Theresa in 2004, and that’s where we connected with each other. When she started Central Florida Vocal Arts in 2012, I joined the team in early 2013. So I’ve been a part of the team since the very, very beginning, and I’m super proud of all of the work that we have done in the community to help with healing and to make music more accessible. A little bit about me: I just recently graduated from UCF. I was a graduate teaching assistant there, so I taught piano, and I also teach at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida, which is near Clermont if you’re familiar.

I am 34-and-a-half weeks pregnant, so if you’ve watched that episode a couple of weeks ago, it featured me singing in one of the clips. You could definitely tell that I was pregnant then, and I still am now. Music is something that has always resonated with me very deeply. I find joy in being able to tell stories and to be able to impact people and heal them with those stories. So that is the basis behind a lot of the work that I create with the arranging — trying to find ways to really bring a different message. You know we all have a great love for opera, and the pop fusion elements that we like to put into our arrangements make it so that opera is more accessible. In one of the pieces that you’re going to hear today — I will get to it in a bit — you’ll hear that fusion element, and it’s one of the things that really, really makes me feel so proud to be a part of such an innovative organization.

Nicole:

Yeah, definitely. I think we’ve made this really incredible team, and organically. With our involvement throughout Central Florida and throughout the community, I think that we’ve really started to cultivate a really incredible identity as an organization. And we are so happy to be here with you today. How this all started: This five-part series started because, as you can see, we had originally wrote an original production that was about one woman’s path through addiction and Nishaa chose different music that really told the story. So, when everything was shut down, we tried to think, “You know, how can we still use this music?”

Because we knew that this was such an impactful story, we started to get involved with a local organization here — you heard in my introduction — called Project Opioid. During that introduction, we started to really be presented with the statistics and the data of what this crisis is doing to our community. And not just in our community — throughout the entire country. Then when the shutdown happened, we just continued to see those numbers rise, so I was very thankful when The Recovery Village approached us because they had seen us perform a song from this and had heard about my personal journey through losing a loved one through addiction. And we came up with this idea of how we could really raise awareness for Recovery Awareness Month but then also use our gifts to try to present and help to tell you how we believe music can really help heal the wounds of addiction. So over the last few weeks, we have taken five songs from that show that we were going to present, and we’ve taken each song and developed an entire conversation around that. 

We started week one with “Take Your Broken Heart and Make It Into Art,” and this was very personal for me. I chose this one to be our first webinar series to tell you a little bit more about me and just how addiction affected my life and my husband. He had dealt with addiction for many years while we were together and then he ultimately passed away in 2017. That was the same year that I found Opera del Sol, and I just really wanted to share with you how music became a part of my life and has really helped me in the healing process of being affected by addiction, like I know that so many other people throughout this country are. 

Week two: That’s when Theresa and Nishaa had joined me as well. This one was a really great one. I may allow Theresa and Nishaa to tell you a little bit more — I really let them kind of tell their journey of being young mothers and a mother-to-be, like Nishaa mentioned. And how they — you know, hearing these statistics and going through this production process — how that affected them and why they became passionate to pursue this production and really bring this project to life. 

Theresa:

So, what I can say as a mother — I have two small children. I have a little boy who turns three tomorrow and a little girl who turned one at the end of August. So, I have two little people who are just my whole world, and my prayer every night is that I am a part of making a better world for them to live in and trying to make sure that we are solving the problems that we’ve created. So the world that they live in is a little less dark and a little easier for them to live in than it is for us. So in any way that we can be a part of solving some of our community’s issues, I am here for it. This is something that affects so many in our community; it doesn’t discriminate, and I want us to be part of making it a little bit better for my children, but for your children too. I don’t want anybody to have to suffer the loss of a child — to me, it’s unimaginable. We want to be a part of using the platform that we have to get the message out and hopefully make a difference.

Nishaa:

Just to add on, I feel very much the same as Theresa. Though my little person is not here yet, she will be here in five-and-a-half weeks or maybe sooner — we’ll see. But I feel very much the same way. I find, myself, that I want to be a better person because of this little person, and I want for all of the new generation of kids to grow up in an environment where they feel loved and where they feel supported and where they don’t have to deal with the discrimination and the segregation that we’ve had to deal with, especially the last several years. 

So when we did this particular song this week — actually got the song suggestion from Theresa — I used elements of things that we had already come up with for other pieces to fuse together for this one. So, it was a very personal project to work on this particular song because it was definitely something that Theresa and I did collaboratively. I took her idea for how she felt as a mother-to-be, not knowing at that time that I would be, but she was already a mother. You might’ve been pregnant back when we were talking about it, but it’s been a journey. We just like to use our music to be able to — from our own experiences, where we’re using our own experiences — to be able to create pieces that can heal. 

Nicole:

Great, well said. Then that led to our week three, and that was “How Do We Connect To Generation Z and How To Get Them To Care.” And this felt like a great progression from speaking from mothers with small children then kind of going into the next generation — Generation Z are those that are between, I believe, 13 and 24 — and how we can connect with them. That was really kind of almost why we chose a lot of, I think, this pop fusion. I feel like we really realized how music can be very nostalgic, and it was really kind of fun when Nishaa would find music that we knew could connect. And during that presentation, we really kind of honed in and told everybody opioid overdoses are the No. 1 killer of those 40 and under. It has now surpassed that of car accidents. 

We really believe that when it came to this presentation, we said things like, “We believe you should meet them where they are.” This is a generation that just, despite what people may think, they’re very, very passionate about today’s issues. Again, that’s why we like using music. Then during that, we just said, “Be honest.” Maybe you don’t know what the opioid crisis is. Maybe you don’t know how it’s affecting them. Maybe you don’t — you know, a lot of us do not know. That is why I believe that, now that we’ve been home for so long, we’ve seen these drastic 50% to 60% in some communities in overdoses. So, be honest — share that data. I mean, this is a generation — they tell you, excuse my French, they don’t like bullshit. And that is one of those “tell them like it is.” They have the information at their fingertips, and I think that that’s the best way that we can really reach out to that generation — not to hide the reality and to figure out unique and creative ways to connect with them. That was a really great presentation, I want to think. I received a lot of emails about that one, and so again, if you’re interested in hearing more about that webinar, please reach out to us because that one was a really great one to do. I really liked hearing how it really affected some of you.

Then last week, our week four seminar was, “The Causes of Despair and Knowing You Are Not Alone.” I kind of talked about, again, we are seeing such an increase in not just overdoses, but suicide attempts, increase in usage and just overall despair. I think that this is one of the first times that we are seeing in our lifetime such a traumatic global event. Where I believe that for the first time, we may be able to understand others in a way that we’ve not been able to understand because you’re not alone. So many people are being affected by this. I think that I saw that it was 90% of people that are being polled — and I would think more — will say that somehow or another, COVID-19 has affected them. Then we just really had time to talk to you, and I had a couple of fun slides in there about even using just a little bit of music history to show you that over the years, there’s been a lot of dramatic events and a lot of harsh ways of life. Where over history, people have used music to heal them and to get through some of the hardest things. 

I had talked about the drummers in the Revolutionary War. There, they are — I mean, does it get any more intense than that? — using music to boost morale. Hymns that were developed in the cotton fields and for the slaves to try to feel some sort of comfort when they were going through such hard oppression. Just over the years — how music has really been there when we’ve been going through something that is so deep. And for the first time, I think this is a time that we can all really understand what it may feel like to hurt right now. Now, I think that’s a great segway into our week five. 

Are you ready to kind of take on those new beginnings? Because we truly believe that everybody has a story, and we believe that music can really help. I really want to kind of give it up to Theresa and Nishaa. I asked them to tell us — you guys have heard from me over the last few weeks and told you how music really helped heal parts of my life, but I’m excited to kind of hear from two different people. For you guys to hear how they’ve used not only their performing, but also their teaching, and then just also their absorption of music at certain times and how that has helped them. So, who would like to go first — Theresa? And then, Nishaa, I would love to for you to share your story as well. 

Theresa:

I think everybody — regardless of whether or not you’re a musician, consider yourself a singer or not — finds music to be a human experience. That’s why it is so significant at so many points in human history. Anthropologically, when you look at our history as a species, you’ll see that music has been a part of us since the very start. As a voice teacher myself, I’ve told Nicole this — I’ll tell anyone this — there’s no such thing as somebody who can’t sing or doesn’t have a voice. You just haven’t learned to use it yet. If you can talk, you can learn to sing, and so singing and music-making is a human experience. 

From the time I was very, very little, I loved to sing. My children, especially my daughter, seems to have that propensity too, but I just always loved that. I was forcing my cousins to do shows with me, and so that part was kind of always there. And then, like many people who find themselves in addiction or other significant life struggles, I have my own demons and my own childhood trauma that I don’t talk a lot about. But I often wonder if it weren’t for music, if it wasn’t for that role in my life, what would have happened? I found a safe place. I found a home in singing. I found a home in performing and I found a home in chorus. I was able to matter there. I was able to be seen there; I was able to work through unprocessed emotions and have the catharsis of music-making so that I could grow into the adult that I am today.

So in that way, I very much work through a lot of the pain that comes in life. I think when you look at the studies, when you look at the data, the biggest predictor of if someone is going to struggle with addiction is their ACE score — their adverse childhood experience. Having a way to deal with that in a healthy way, I think, is so important. I think when we look at that being the source of a lot of the issues that we have, you can’t vilify people who struggle with addiction — you have to look at it as this is a coping mechanism. I think music is a healthy coping mechanism; it’s a way to heal the trauma rather than to continue the trauma in a new form. So for me, I don’t know who I am without that role in my life. 

Nicole:

Thank you. That was beautiful, Theresa. I feel that a lot of people can relate to that. Thank you so much for sharing and for being vulnerable and sharing that with us. And now, Nishaa, I’m excited to hear a little bit more about your journey. 

Nishaa:

Yeah. For me too, music has always been an integral part of my life. I mean, I went off to college and I studied music, even though it didn’t really make sense to do so. My biggest trauma in my life did not happen until I was in my late 20s, early 30s, when I was diagnosed with infertility, which you know — this is why I’ve been talking about this pregnancy so much each time I come on. It’s because I went through years of infertility in which I was not able to conceive, and then when I did, I was not able to sustain the pregnancies. So for me, it’s always been something that’s helped me through that. This pregnancy was a miracle pregnancy. I really, honestly, should not have been able to conceive. We don’t know how it happened. It’s been something that has been very challenging, even in the beginning stages. 

I found out that I was pregnant right as we started quarantine. So literally, I was living by myself at that time and having to deal with the thoughts and the resurfacing feelings of the losses that I’ve been through in the past and have to deal with that. We had so many things through Central Florida Vocal Arts — I shout out our organization because we did so many things that really helped heal my heart as I was going through this hard time and concerned about maybe losing this child as well. We did a Making Art Heals Hearts campaign. We did a Black Voices Matter campaign. We did virtual institutes where we spent time with our children and really taught them to feel. These are all things that, even as an adult, it’s really important to put yourself in a situation where you can deal with your demons now so that you can continually heal. It’s not just when you’re a child. We have all of those resources within our organization, and I’m so thankful because it really helped me through such a hard time. 

Nicole:

I like that. Thank you so much. I can attest to that, and I think that it’s been really great to have women that feel just like us. I think that collectively, we have been able to be vulnerable with one another and be honest with one another about the process of our healing and how we are just really, really passionate. In some ways, I think this — for us now having to be at home and having to force ourselves to do things virtually — it’s really helped us to figure out new and innovative ways. I do, again, I thank you all for being here today because this is really great for us, just as much as it is for you. Giving us the opportunity to talk about our art and to be able to perform for you has really been great for us, and we thank you. 

We really believe, sometimes, music is the best medicine. Again, we are not counselors; we really are taking this journey based on our personal journeys and how we have had the education or the experience on how we can truly use music to help others heal. I just, I love — this is one of my favorite graphics. I had it as one of my screensavers for a very long time. This is where I think music can be the best medicine. I have a couple of examples of how we think that you can start to think about bringing music into your life or into your patient’s life. I like to say everyone has a favorite song; it doesn’t matter who you are, so that really shows that everybody loves music. You might not like every kind of music, but I think that everybody can agree that there’s a song. Everybody has that hype-up song that gets you jazzed up when you need it, or you have that one that takes you sometimes. I love the — oh, that’s right. You said we’ll play the video for you here in a moment. Listening to music can be very therapeutic. 

We’ll go through what we think and then we’ll end with the video once we’re done with these next few slides. Then I’d like Nishaa to tell you a little bit more about — sometimes, it’s the making of the music, because Nishaa is an incredible pianist. Again, she’s the one that kind of put a lot of the actual music elements together for a lot of the productions that I do. So Nishaa, tell us how making music could really help someone, or maybe they could help their patient get through something and how that could help someone heal. 

Nishaa:

I mean, I am always a proponent of music lessons, whether it’s singing lessons or piano lessons or whatnot. I actually picked up the ukulele at the beginning of the quarantine because that was my way of healing and coping with the change in everything. So I mean, for me, I can sit at my piano for hours and just play because it just is something that fulfills my heart. I think for everyone, there is a piece of music. There is a song or there is something you can do or learn, no matter how old you are, that can help to add to your healing process as well.

Theresa:

I want to jump in, too, because you said something that I think is so important. People start to think that they’re out of a certain age so they cannot learn to sing or they can’t do anything. The oldest voice student I ever taught was 92 years old. She sang at church and she wanted to learn how to sing, so I gave her voice lessons. We actually have a class that runs at the Mayflower Retirement Community. That is a group voice class for the residents there. They are between 75 and early 90s, and the aim was at people who always wanted to sing and express themselves musically but never felt confident to do so. I often do presentations called “Finding Your Voice,” and it’s that you can use music as a platform to be expressive and to share your truth. 

I think Nishaa and I can both attest to the fact that, while we are not counselors, the relationship that you have with a voice teacher is very intimate. I mean, a lot of times, the way these lessons look is a lot of times like music therapy — you’re working through what you have in your life. By going through the music in that way — the repertoire that we select, the way that we learn to sort of deal with our own demons and how they show up in your vocal technique — it can be a really wonderful, special thing. So I would say, like, I started with “music is for everyone.” And if that’s something that you’re drawn to, don’t feel limited by these self-imposed insecurities or, “I’m too old,” or, “I’m not talented enough.” Just try it; see if it works for you. Music therapy is actually a whole degree program that you can study at university. That is how significant music can be in the healing process. 

Nicole:

Definitely. You know, we just talked about how you can try to sing or you can try to pick up an instrument, but if you are feeling like maybe that’s not a path on how to be involved in music, I really wanted to put this light in here because you could always try volunteering — being around the process. A little thing about me: I usually say I can’t sing, but like Theresa says, everybody can sing. I actually took some vocal lessons from Theresa and I do a lot of public speaking and I’m on the radio, and even just those techniques on how to breathe and things have helped me in my daily life. 

The reason that I bring that up is because I wasn’t brought into music, but through education, I was brought into music by the sheer love. You know, my grandparents took me when I was a kid and then I started volunteering backstage in my very early 20s. That is really how I developed the love so much of music, and performing was being a part of the process. And right now, the arts organizations all across the world — not just in our country and not just in our community here in Florida — have been greatly affected. So if you’ve ever wanted to volunteer, I think it’s a really great way to get involved if you’d like. Again, this is all permitting the COVID-19 and how your community is opening up, but if you are trying to think about bringing music into your life, possibly volunteering could actually help you feel a part of the process. And honestly, that’s one of my favorite parts — helping with the costumes, helping with the sets, thinking of hair and makeup design. There’s so many things that can actually get you interested in and get you a part of a music organization. 

Of course, we went — here in Central Florida — almost seven months without seeing live music, and I know what that did to my heart. So what I would say — again, to how you could bring music into your life when things are open and your community allows — go experience live performance. Check your local listings, go see community theater, sometimes the universities, just help out whatever arts organizations. And I say help out ‘cause that’s what your ticket price will do. But ultimately, experiencing that live music for yourself, I think, can be extremely, extremely therapeutic. Actually, Theresa and I and our significant others went for the first time to a performance, and I can tell you, I didn’t realize how much I had missed it until I was sitting inside that theater. 

I have to tell you, we both, like, started tearing up, like I can’t believe we are actually getting to experience this. Because sometimes, it’s just that energy of not just the performers, but of the collective experience that you’re having with everyone else. There’s something that can be so powerful about laughing together, about crying together, about hating that one character together. I think that that’s something that I would really love again. When you’re starting to think, “How can I bring music into my life when things are opening?” Maybe if you haven’t thought about opera or you haven’t thought about the ballet, or even haven’t thought about going to see your local community theater, really start to think about that — especially when you’re starting to feel your heart and you’re feeling yourself to go to a certain place. This is something that I think could really help to heal and help to really make you feel a part of the energy again. 

We have just mentioned so many different ways that music can touch someone’s heart, and you’ve heard us talk a little bit more throughout this series and today about a show that we had written called Requiem. I want our musical ladies to tell you a little bit more about what that particular show was like. This particular song that we’re doing — I chose this one for the last one because you’re going to see elements blended in from the last weeks’ few performances. And I think it’s just this incredible arrangement that is very powerful. Nishaa will tell you just a little bit more about the story, and then we’ll go into the video. Knowing just only a tad of what that story is, I think that Nishaa’s really captured what she was feeling — what drug addiction can feel like — in just a five-and-a-half-minute performance. I’ll let her just tell you briefly a little bit to set the video up, and then when Nishaa is done, we’ll play that. I’m excited for you all to see how music can just so easily tell a very emotional story, especially about something like addiction. So Nishaa, tell everybody a little bit more about the video we’re going to show everyone.

Nishaa:

Yes, absolutely. When we actually started creating this project, we had performed certain segments of it at the Creative City Project “Immerse” downtown last year.

Nicole:

In Orlando. A lot of people are not from here, so yeah. From Orlando. 

Nishaa:

Nicole and I — we got together one day and we were just talking and laughing at one point in time. I think I was standing on a table because I was so inspired by the things that Nicole and I were coming up with for this whole idea. As I was creating this particular piece, which was — I think it was probably one of the very first ones that I arranged — I was trying to figure out what is this classical element that I can bring into this piece. I was so stuck on Mozart. That was in my mind and I was like, “I have to figure out how this is going to work.” So I finally did, and I have to be honest. I mean, Mozart is one of my favorite classical composers. I’m sure all of you have heard something by Mozart at some point in time, and I think that his music is so passionate, and even though everybody knows, there’s a reason for that. I am so inspired at the things that he did in the 35 years of his life. It’s like, what am I doing with my life when this person wrote all of this amazing music? 

I created this medley of Evanescence and Mozart’s Requiem, and you kind of get to hear how it all pieces together. I will say that, but the whole idea behind it was just to tell the story. As we saw how this first segment of it came out at the “Immerse” Creative City Project Festival in downtown Orlando in 2019, we were like, “This is what I see.” And then Nicole — when she finally saw visually, she related it so much to her experience with what she had gone through with her husband that we were like, “We have to make this bigger.” We have to make this bigger because it can — we felt how much it impacted us just watching it. We were like, “We have to get this to a bigger stage so we can really tell the story.” So we enlisted the help of a writer, Michael Knight, who also lives here in Orlando, and he wrote our script for us. 

We started to work out a storyline so we could really understand what addiction does to people, and what we found is that it’s not like it can be one thing that makes somebody go down this rabbit hole of addiction. It is a series of traumas and a series of issues that bring them to that point. And if we can help people to learn how to be more empathetic and more understanding and just be more educated on this topic, then maybe we can help stop this crisis or help decrease the number of deaths that are occurring because of this. And that is our goal with this whole project. So, Theresa, would you like to add anything? 

 

Theresa:

Not really. I just think you guys are fabulous. I love everything that we’re doing. I think that when it came to the concept of, like, “This is an important issue. We can use our voice to make an impact,” It was without hesitation. Yet, this is something that we need to do. So obviously, we had intended to go one way and then COVID is here, so I just think we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to share it with you in this format. Hopefully in the future, we’ll be able to gather again and we’ll be able to do it full-scale, but thank you for giving us purpose and letting us still use this beautiful piece of art that Nicole and Nishaa created to be able to serve its purpose.

(Woman singing)

How can you see into my eyes like open doors

Leading you down into my core

Where I’ve become so numb

Without a soul

My spirit’s sleeping somewhere cold

Until you find it there and lead it back home

Wake me up inside 

Wake me up inside

Call my name and save me from the dark

Bid my blood to run

Before I come undone

Save me from the nothing I’ve become

Now that I know what I’m without

You can’t just leave me

Breathe into me and make me real

Bring me to life

Wake me up inside 

Wake me up inside

Call my name and save me from the dark

Bid my blood to run

Before I come undone

Save me from the nothing I’ve become

Wake me up inside

Bring me to life

I’m frozen inside without your touch

Without your love, darling

Only you are the life among the dead

Lacrimosa dies illa

Qua resurget ex favilla

Lacrimosa dies illa

Qua resurget ex favilla

Lacrimosa dies illa

Qua resurget ex favilla

I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems

Have to open my eyes to everything

Bring me to life

Wake me up inside 

Wake me up inside

Call my name and save me from the dark

Bid my blood to run

Before I come undone

And save me from the nothing I’ve become

Wake me up inside

Bring me to life

(Singing ends)

Nicole:

It gives me goosebumps every time. I hope you all — like, in a few moments, we’d love for you to all turn on your cameras and get we’d love your feedback — I hope that you guys really kind of felt what Nishaa and I guess we really wanted you to feel, and how she just really took music from different genres and different time periods and was able to string together a story. And that really leads into, “How can we help you? How can Opera del Sol help you?” The really great thing about our organization is that we are all about collaboration. We are all about doing original productions, and you’ve heard our stories about how we are so passionate to bring music to you. We have made music our life. And whatever we can do to help bring it to yours — we’d love to collaborate or brainstorm with you about future webinars that we can offer to you and organizations. Theresa and Nishaa had mentioned that we also offer online vocal lessons and that we were going to continue to try to think of new and innovative ways to bring music online in this day and age. Whatever we can do to bring our organization and our abilities and talents and how we can help others — we are really passionate about that, and we would love to hear from you. 

So if you are all interested in giving us, you know, kind of talking to us, we would love to hear from you if you’d like to turn your cameras on. If you are interested in emailing us or going to our websites to learn a little bit more about what we do and what we’ve done in the past, right there is all of our information. Again, this has been a really incredible experience. Some of my favorite parts of these webinars have been at the end when I hear from you and what music has done for you and your healing process or how it’s helped your patients, or how you want to use music in your life to help others. It’s been a really great process, and we thank you so very much for joining us for these last five weeks and spending five hours with us. Because we are passionate about using music to heal the wounds of addiction, and however we can help heal any sorts of wounds, we’d like to do that. 

Theresa:

Just again, don’t limit yourself. Thank you for having not only our art, but art from everywhere. Art is self-care, so taking the time to experience art, to make art, to refill your creative and artistic cup, is so important. It’s a way to heal. It’s a healthy way to explore all that you’re capable of — you probably don’t even know what that is yet. 

Nishaa:

I just want to thank you all for being with us for this one and for all of the other webinars and our series, and just sharing that and being open for us to share this art with you. 

Thank you for watching this video. We hope you enjoyed the presentation.

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