Artist of the week: Jessica Lingua

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Jenn Ikeda

Jessica Lingua is a key performer in the upcoming Westmont opera double feature of “The Marriage Contract” and “Gianni Schicchi.”

Alexa Highsmith, Staff Writer

Third-year music and biology major Jessica Lingua lives and breathes music. In addition to vocal studies, Lingua also plays the violin with the Westmont Orchestra and sings with the College Choir and Chamber Singers.

Lingua began to show interest in music at an early age. “I started with choir when I was four,” she said, “then enrolled in violin lessons when I was eight. I had always been fascinated with music, and was singing and humming before I could really talk.” Despite her love of music, and passion for learning more, it wasn’t until the summer before high school that she began the voice lessons she so deeply desired.

In both middle and high school, Lingua joined various ensembles, including “choirs,” “glee clubs,” and “small ensembles.” She dedicated herself to the pursuit of music, noting that she “participated in classical vocal competitions,” and was so immersed that she “even sacrificed lunch times in school to sing with equally passionate friends.” During high school, violin was something she did on her own, while her choral and vocal involvement flourished.

“Coming to Westmont was such a big change,” she admitted. “It was like I was thrown into an ocean of musical opportunities.” She joined choir, orchestra, and chamber singers during her first year, and continues to participate in all three ensembles to this day. “I don’t regret taking on so much,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but really worth it.”

Along with the drastic change she experienced in coming to Westmont, Lingua proclaimed: “Westmont has given me a much clearer picture of what music is.” She’s traveled all over the world to perform with various Westmont ensembles, both nationally and internationally. “I’ve seen so many audiences laugh and cry and cheer and contemplate what they’ve heard. I’ve taken all four semesters of music theory,” she continued, “but I think music fulfills its purpose when it resonates with the heart, changing us for the better, leaving an indelible mark on the soul.”

The discipline of music is demanding, so musicians need a base of support. Lingua finds encouragement amongst her friends and family, who inspire her most: “On days when I don’t feel worth it, they shower me with encouragement and provide constant love and support. I’m overwhelmed by how amazing they are.”

This spring, Lingua is participating in Westmont’s production of “The Marriage Contract” and “Gianni Schicchi” with music by Gioachino Rossini and Giacomo Puccini, respectively. “Come see this opera,” she said, encouraging anyone and everyone. “I’ve worked in four operas now, but these two small operettas are something else.” A cautionary word of advice: “Expect to laugh, but expect some dark themes. ‘The Marriage Contract’ and ‘Gianni Schicchi’ emphasize the dangers of greed, possession, and envy.”

Lingua plays the role of Fanny, which she admits is “vocally difficult … but as a character, she is tangled in a contract which would have her bought and sold by wealthy, powerful men. Fortunately,” she prompted, “she has other ideas.”

“If you’ve ever wanted to see the orchestra perform in pajamas, now is your chance!” she enticed. Tickets are currently available on New Vic Theatre’s website for purchase. The opera runs from Feb. 28 through March 3.