Wait! Breathe! Sing! profiles Katherine Kaufman Posner, who, in 1964, was the youngest-ever winner (she was twenty years old) of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She is now a sought-after voice teacher. This documentary offers a glimpse into the power and beauty of opera, which is an art form—as Posner points out, the only complete art form—currently struggling to find an audience among younger generations. Katherine’s aria at the Metropolitan Opera auditions was Una voce poco fa from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and that gorgeous aria is the centerpiece of this documentary. One of Posner’s students is Janna Badalian, a professional jazz singer studying opera to train her voice. We see Posner coach her through the aria’s vocal requirements while offering lessons on dramatic techniques to engage the audience. We also watch as Posner and her husband, Jerry, listen to a long-forgotten reel-to-reel tape of her own rendition of the aria from 1964. Opera lives!
Terry Grunwald is a southern Jewish country girl raised on a chicken farm near Danville, Virginia. After attending college in the Big Apple, she worked as a welfare administrator and community organizer in areas such as the South Bronx and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Fortunate to come into adulthood during a period of hope and possibility, she considers herself a true child of the ’60s, and her heart is still there. She worked in government and nonprofit agencies for over forty years, directing programs in community development, crime victim services, and community technology (though she describes herself as a “technoklutz”). Frederick Wiseman, Ross McElwee, and Alan Berliner are her favorite documentary filmmakers. In truth she is somewhat abashed that her first documentary does not address social justice issues, but she was entranced by Katherine Kaufman Posner as a subject and by the aria Una voce poco fa. She lives in Raleigh with her audiophile husband, Bernie, and standard poodle, Ivan.
This was the final project for the Certificate in Documentary Arts at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. See more Spring 2013 final projects at cdsporch.org/archives/18602.