The Drew Music Department, co-sponsored by the Ledeen Fund, is helping students of all disciplines rediscover opera and music. This year, as part of this effort, the annual trip to The Metropolitan Opera took a group of about thirty students to see Richard Wagner’s “Lohengrin” on March 25.
These students not only had the pleasure of seeing the opera, but also had the opportunity to go beyond just watching the performance; they interacted with Weston Sprott, an experienced pit performer and the dean of Julliard’s Pre-College Program.
Professor and Music Department Chair Trevor Weston was able to introduce the students to Sprott, who he met at Julliard’s Pre-College Program. Sprott, a trombonist, conversed with attendees about his daily life as a musician and his experience as an operatic player. His career playing with The Metropolitan Opera spans back to The Met’s last performance of “Lohengrin” in 2006.
Sprott said one of his favorite operas to perform in the pit is “Lohengrin.” “It’s like swimming in chocolate,” he said.
“Lohengrin” follows the mythic tale of tragic heroine Elsa, who is falsely accused of infanticide, and the mysterious unnamed Knight, who comes down from Heaven to fight for her in trial by combat. The opera follows their journey of love that is plagued by doubt and deception from multiple characters in the piece.
Stage direction by Tim Yip and François Girard featured apocalyptic and intergalactic imagery, examples of which included recurring moon symbolism, earth-like sets and a hole in the ceiling through which the Knight comes down to Earth. The production also played with sound dynamics, featuring trumpet players on various parts of the stage and behind set pieces in order to manipulate the audience’s sense of depth.
This is the first time The Met has performed “Lohengrin” in 17 years, marking a well-received return for the dynamic show, which is also reflected in the reactions of Drew students.
“You have to see it in-person,” said Tyler Schmied (‘26), speaking about the elaborate set design and immersive acoustics of The Met theater.
Emily Cookson (‘26) echoed his sentiments. “I didn’t really understand the first act,” she said, “but it was incredible anyway.”
These trips to The Metropolitan Opera are giving students the opportunity to appreciate art forms they may never have the chance to experience outside of Drew. Funding from both the Drew Music Department and the Ledeen Fund, named in honor of the late Professor Lydia Ledeen, erases some financial obstacles for students. In a nation where college student discounts are minimal, and experiences like this one are expensive, Drew’s ability to provide the means for students to do this is unique.
To see Professor Weston’s work and website, click here. To view the upcoming features of the Metropolitan Opera, or to read the synopsis of the now-ended “Lohengrin” performances, click here.
Annabelle Smith is a first-year majoring in studio art.