Heather McConnell ’17 illuminates common themes from a 200-year old opera and the modern day #MeToo Movement

As a performer, Heather McConnell ’17 strives to embody the nuance and complexity of a powerful role. McConnell’s part as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni during the Halifax Opera Festival this past summer was no exception.

This particular production set the opera in modern day as an homage to the #MeToo Movement, as the plot follows Donna Anna for the first 24 hours after she is sexually assaulted, and her father murdered.

The contemporary interpretation offered McConnell the freedom to fully explore her role, making courageous artistic decisions to best portray the resilient character. Her passion for the heroine and the inspiration she found from the #MeToo Movement earned McConnell glowing reviews as she showcased her “mature, dramatic voice that soared exquisitely throughout.”

McConnell explained that her relentless pursuit of Donna Anna’s truth could be attributed to the support of her directors and conductor, as well as the valuable lessons she learned from her Gettysburg College faculty while on campus.

“My wonderful voice teacher at Gettysburg, Prof. Jeffrey Fahnestock, always encouraged me to experiment as an artist, and much of his advice stays with me today. In particular, Prof. Fahnestock helped prepare me for the sheer stamina required to make it through a full opera role as demanding as Donna Anna,” said McConnell. “In addition, my coach, Dr. Scott Crowne, taught me how to pick music apart, appreciating every tiny detail and navigating the most difficult passages.”

Now a teaching assistant in music at Temple University, McConnell continues to set her sights on challenging opera roles and leveraging the music skills she developed at Gettysburg to bring new life to classic performances.

Learn more about opera at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College.

By Lindsay Harris ’19
Photo by Stu Metz
Posted: 03/13/19