Professor Guccione: Popular teacher during the day, superstar opera singer at night

By Emily Lapinski

April 16, 2014

Opera singer, entrepreneur and Dominican University Adjunct Professor Rose Guccione has a cold, and for the past week, the Fine Arts building has been quiet.

Over the past few days, no stirring Italian arias have echoed down the hall while Guccione is resting her voice in order to get over an upper respiratory infection. 

“I have been trying my best to reschedule private lessons this week because the worst thing a singer can do is breathe in germs and I am also physically unable to demonstrate,” Guccione said.

Guccione is a busy woman. While she is only on campus part time, you cannot miss seeing her walking around. Her long, thick black hair and contagious laugh make her presence known whenever she steps into a room.

Guccione teaches group chorus, entrepreneurship for creative performing artists and private voice instruction at Dominican. She also sings with The Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company, the Instituto Cervantes de Chicago and other professional companies.

All this work has earned her quite a fan club.

I took group voice with Professor Guccione first semester and it was great,” freshman Jocelyn Cano said. “I had taken chorus in high school, but when I came here to Dominican and realized that I was going to be taught by a professional, I was extremely impressed.”  

Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Guccione developed her love of music early on by watching her father.

“My father sang in the chorus at our church and I was just fascinated while listening to him do his Sunday warm up,” she said. “The defining moment was when I was about four and went to see one of his rehearsals with my mother. They were doing a piece from ‘The Seven Last Words of Christ’ by [Theodore] Dubois. When they got to the chorus and sang ‘He is Death Guilty,’ it was so powerful that I got frightened and ran out of the sanctuary.” 

However, it was that initial fear that later turned into fascination. After her love of music was ignited, she took advantage of her motivation and decided to get involved right away. She sang at her church and took singing lessons, eventually transitioning from looking for roles to being offered them.

Guccione said she probably gets as much satisfaction out of teaching as her students get out of learning.

“My favorite thing about teaching is the ‘aha’ moment students have,” Guccione said. “I think of us as vocal athletes because a lot of what we do is through muscle memory. When things click for a student, it is exciting for me because once they see it, understand it and feel it, their faces light up.”

Students not only praise Guccione’s ability to be an influential teacher, but also her ability as a professional.

Sophomore Rachael Kalkirtz thinks Guccione has been a great professor because of her years of experience and enthusiasm for singing.

I think that she is well deserving and more than perfect for her profession,” Kalkirtz said. “She is quirky, in the best way possible, has a tremendously powerful voice and has the right attitude for the performance lifestyle.”

Guccione started her own business a few years ago, delivering over-the-top operatic messages in person throughout the Chicagoland area and over the phone through OperaGram.com.

“One of my colleagues had asked me to call someone and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ for them. That individual approached me four years later and told me that she saved that message and every year on her birthday, listens to the message while enjoying a glass of champagne,” Guccione said.  “That was my aha moment. Something that is just normal for me to do or for any singer to do is something that is cherished by people, so I thought, there is a business here.”

These telegrams are used for all sorts of purposes such as embarrassing a fellow coworker, telling someone you love them, preparing someone for a surgery or simply showing someone you care.

“I went to sing for this woman who had lost her sight and really savored opera. I sang the aria she requested and then sang some more because I saw how much she was enjoying it,” Guccione said.

Guccione has taken her business insights from running OperaGram.com and packaged them for her students in a brand-new music entrepreneurship class.

Throughout her singing career, Guccione has traveled all over the world and worked with some of the greatest and most renowned performers and opera singers. She has performed opera in Rome and worked with Italian coaches on the score of “Il Trovatore,” which she later performed in Chicago. That performance earned her the title of the “definitive Verdian Singer,” which shows tribute to her ability to use every tool regarding technique in interpreting Verdi.

Aside from teaching her courses, Guccione has currently been working on a few projects. Two weeks ago, she did a performance of “H.M.S. Pinafore” at the University of Chicago. “The Empty Chalices,” another opera she is in, opened this week at the Instituto Cervantes and is being performed in both English and Spanish. She is also looking forward to a recital featuring her students at Dominican on April 15.   

She’s hoping that her cold will be gone by then.             

To learn more about Rose Guccione, check out the following links:

http://roseguccione.wordpress.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7hBRwPKE8I