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Jacobs School tenor Trey Smagur welcomes artistic challenges

Oct. 26, 2016

Jacobs School of Music master's student Trey Smagur likes a challenge, so it isn’t a surprise that he chose a career path that requires an immense amount of dedication, skill and practice. 

Trey Smagur

Trey Smagur, a master's student in the Jacobs School of Music, performs in IU Opera Theater's production of "Carmen." | PHOTO COURTESY OF IU JACOBS SCHOOL OF MUSIC

The aspiring opera singer is in his fifth year at IU Bloomington. He enrolled in the Jacobs School in 2012 after completing his undergraduate degree in vocal performance from Shorter University in Georgia. In his first two years at IU, he worked toward a performance diploma. Once he received that, he continued on to pursue a master’s in vocal performance.

Last year, Smagur was awarded a scholarship through the Jacobs School that allowed him to focus 100 percent on his craft. Smagur said the Georgina Joshi Graduate Fellowship award contributed vastly to his success at IU. 

“During the application and audition process, we learn a lot about Georgina,” he said. “From the way everyone talks about her, it’s clear that she was a really wonderful person. Being chosen as the recipient was really great, not only to have that affirmation from the Jacobs School but also to try to honor her legacy.”

Enter to win

Current IU faculty and staff with a valid IU email address can enter to win two tickets to see "Madama Butterfly" at the Musical Arts Center on Nov. 6, an $84 total value. The contest opens Oct. 26 and closes at 4 p.m. Oct. 31, 2016.

Smagur will play B.F. Pinkerton, one of his last roles before graduating in spring 2017, in the upcoming performance of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.” Pinkerton is the American soldier who sweeps geisha Cio-Cio San off her feet only to break her heart when he moves back to the U.S. and later tries to take her son from her.

Smagur said that while the storyline is tragic, it’s also very beautiful. 

“The music is absolutely gorgeous, and the singers make it that much more fantastic,” he said. “I feel really lucky to be there singing with them.”

As for his role? It’s a new one for the tenor. Pinkerton is the villain in this production, which isn’t characteristic of tenor roles. Smagur is used to portraying more loving romantic interests. 

“He’s kind of a jerk, and you detest him a bit,” Smagur said. “It’s fun to be a villain sometimes, but just on stage!”

Also unique to this production is the road show. In addition to the Nov. 4, 5 and 6 productions in Bloomington at the Musical Arts Center, the cast will travel to Indianapolis for performances Nov. 11 and 12 at Butler University’s Clowes Hall.

Performing at Clowes Hall will be a different environment for the entire cast of “Madama Butterfly.” The cast ranges from undergraduate sophomores to doctoral students, and traveling provides them the opportunity to reach a different audience on a new stage. Smagur said they have been preparing for the past four months and are ready to impress.

“When I get to the show, we have rehearsed enough that I’m not usually nervous,” he said. “There’s this whole process in putting on an opera. You have to have a system and a plan, because in live theater you never know what is going to happen.”

In addition to performing and completing his master’s degree, Smagur is preparing for the next step in his career. He is in the midst of challenging auditions for several young artists programs around the States and in Europe.

Wherever Smagur lands, he just hopes to continue pursuing his passion of singing.   

Trey Smagur's performance experience aligns with several priorities in the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including a commitment to student success.

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