Avery Smith Takes a Big Step in His Opera Career

by Monica Hoel
Avery Smith has been chosen for a world-class professional opera program that only accepted about 40 participants – from all over the world

The Dolora Zajick Institute for Young Dramatic Voices is considered an important step for talented young people who are looking to make opera a career. Dolora Zajik is so well-known and well-connected (singing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, La Scala in Milan, and rubbing elbows with the likes of Pavarotti) that going through her program in Nevada practically guarantees a foot in the door. “We’ll work basically the entire month of July, then the program will culminate with a performance with the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra.”

A native of Smyth County, Virginia, Avery was a double major in music and theatre at Emory & Henry. As a student, he performed in a raft of musical theatre productions as a student, but it’s really opera that won his heart. He was a junior in high school when the All-County Chorus workshop he attended just happened to have been led by Mark Davis (E&H reunion class of 1980). “I loved the way we were singing, and even though I’m not a very openly emotional person I sobbed while singing that day. I went to Mark afterwards and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’” Avery has been taking lessons with Mark ever since.

Avery says he loves the idea of being a renaissance man, and while opera is his vocational plan, Avery also likes to cook and is a naturalist at heart. When he was 15, he completed the coursework for Virginia Master Naturalist and this past year he has been working as an interpreter at Hungry Mother State Park in Marion. “Being an interpreter is the best job at a state park – I get to lead guided hikes and kayak tours, do education about mammals, and lead campfire programs.”

But he says he doesn’t sing at the campfires – he’s more likely to tell stories. And soon, he’ll have a new story to tell about the opera-singing park ranger named Avery Smith.

Enjoy a conversation AND a quick snippet of Avery singing on the Duck Pond Wall podcast.

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2349-richard-joyces-artwork-featured-in-gallery"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/121,157,480,515/11317_image1.rev.1652968760.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/121,157,480,515/11317_image1.rev.1652968760.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/121,157,480,515/11317_image1.rev.1652968760.jpg" alt="Richard Joyce Emory & Henry Class of 1969" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="359" data-max-h="358" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2349-richard-joyces-artwork-featured-in-gallery">Richard Joyce’s Artwork Featured in Gallery</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> In 2003, life changed dramatically for Richard Joyce, E&H Class of 1969. But nothing could change his love for life’s beauty. <a href="/live/news/2349-richard-joyces-artwork-featured-in-gallery" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
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