Meet Jon DeVries, a theater and business double major, who took a step into the unknown when he accepted the position of Artistic Operations Intern at the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY, the second largest summer opera festival in the country.
Q: What drew you to this position?
A: I heard about it because a friend told me that they were doing Sweeney Todd as one of the mainstage shows, and the composer Stephen Sondheim would be there later this summer. Sweeney Todd is a great show and I’m a huge fan of Stephen Sondheim, so when I heard he would be there I was stoked and had to apply.
Q: What is your role as Artistic Operations Intern?
A: The Festival has four mainstage shows, a youth opera, and various second stage shows. I basically function as the mediator between the artists, administration, and outside contacts. I make sure everyone in each party has all of the things and information that they need in order to keep the Festival running properly. I’m also a point person for the youth opera and youth chorus, as well as the opera’s Young Artists Program, which makes up the choruses and some principal roles of the mainstage shows. Outside of this job description, I just found out that I’m going to sing in one of the mainstage shows as well! When a chorus member had to drop out, the company was pressed for time and extended an offer to interested interns. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be in a professional opera production, threw my name into the mix, and luckily I got it. The show is called La bohème and opens July 8.
Q: How has your theater experience at Calvin prepared you for this internship and beyond?
A: Being in the Calvin Theatre Company teaches collaboration and has grown my confidence both as an artist/administrator and as an individual. I’m comfortable with who I am and feel prepared to talk about important life truths and questions with a variety of individuals. It’s taught me to listen, discern, and question. Also Calvin has taught me work ethic—that I’m going to do what I have to do and do it well. I came to the Glimmerglass Festival not knowing anything about opera, but I can see where what I have learned crosses over and I can know where I need to be humble and ask questions, admitting ignorance.
Q: Will this opera experience benefit you in the future?
A: For sure. For one thing, it will give me an idea of if I want to pursue opera. But beyond that, every individual I meet is another connection, every experience I have is another building block. My career goals are focused but flexible. I want to absorb as much as I can from experiences like this for the next 15 to 20 years before returning to a place like Chicago, my home, and starting a theatre company of my own. This feels like another wonderful stepping stone.