Music Teacher 'Rakes' in Good Notices in Operatic Role
Assistant professor of music Gerald Seminatore debuts as Rakewell in Igor Stravinsky’s work

October 3, 2006

By Gail Matsunaga

As Tom Rakewell in West Bay Opera’s summer production of “The Rake’s Progress,” Gerald Seminatore — assistant professor of music — comes into a large inheritance, abandons his true love for the bright lights of London and embarks on a life of debauchery. By the time he realizes the error of his ways, it’s too late: he’s made a pact with the devil.

It was Seminatore’s debut as Rakewell in Igor Stravinsky’s work and with the West Bay Opera. In its review, the San Francisco Classical Voice said that the tenor’s “bright voice, always on pitch and secure, flowed with grace through the long, complicated phrases Stravinsky wrote.”

“The experience was really quite fine,” said Seminatore, who has taught on campus since 2003. “We had a nationally known director, a dynamic conductor from San Francisco and a nice team of people to work with — a strong cast and production team.”
Tom Rakewell is the latest of about 30 different roles Seminatore has performed in productions here and abroad. Concert engagements have included performances with the Chautauqua and San Antonio symphonies, Tulsa Philharmonic, Cincinnati Philharmonic and Cypress Masterworks Chorale.

Balancing professional dates with teaching can mean “a situation where you have to move schedules around,” he explains. “For ‘The Rake’s Progress’ for example, I had a grad student teach a couple of student-applied lessons. Once a week, I had to fly back and forth to San Jose during rehearsals. The upside is that I can later share these experiences with the students.”

When asked when he knows when he’s ready to take on a new role, he said, “You kind of have an internal compass that points you in the right direction. I knew I was ready for Tom. It was a perfect fit for me.”

Seminatore’s summer also included traveling to Germany for a performance of operetta solos and duets in Kassel, as well as a teaching a class at Kreismusikschule, a post-secondary school in Löbau.

German students “all could sing very clearly in English, whereas ours can’t when singing in German,” says Seminatore about teaching in Germany. “And, musically, they’re a little more advanced early on in their training than ours might be.”
On the flip side, Seminatore adds, “Some of the German students are not quite as proactive as our students. They’re more deferential to teachers. There are two different sorts of school cultures that are fascinating to compare.”


Gerald Seminatore
Gerald Seminatore makes a pact with the devil in "The Rake's Progress."