Madison’s Harper headed to Italy

Madison’s Harper headed to Italy


Madison’s Audrey Harper is embarking on the trip of a lifetime this summer to Italy.

Harper, a rising junior at Mississippi State University, grew up in Madison and graduated from Madison-Ridgeland Academy in 2020. She said this program, called “Fio Italia,” will bring her closer to making her dream career in music come true.

Harper views this as a milestone in her singing career, as she has been interested in it ever since she started doing choir when she was nine years old.

“I’m a music major here at MSU, and when I got an email from the school about an audition for the Fio Italia opera program in Italy, I quickly signed up for it,” Harper said. “I signed up for it and felt good about the audition, but I was unsure since I’m still pretty young. However, I got an email saying I was accepted and what shows I would take part in.”

Harper auditioned by taking part in an in-person interview with the MSU and sang a song piece in Italian. She said her reaction to being accepted was equal parts shocked and excited. She will be one of 49 undergrad and grad students traveling to Europe for the program.

Harper will fly to Rome on July 1, take a shuttle to a small town called Urbania, and remain there until August 7. There, she will learn Italian, perform in rehearsals, and participate in voice lessons. At the end of the program, she will perform in two fully staged operas.

“It’s been a hard experience to pursue this, especially after graduating in 2020 during COVID,” Harper said. “I didn’t get to do much during my first year of college due to COVID, but this is a huge milestone in my journey as a singer.”

“I’m so excited to learn another language and culture and be fully immersed in this for a whole month,” she said. “I can’t wait to see Europe, and I’ve always wanted to make this a career, so it’s very exciting to be this close to that being a reality. This will be my first-ever big opera classical music experience. I have a bit of on-stage experience, but nothing of this scale.”

Harper’s grandmother, Mary Harper, said MSU lucked out with having a student like her granddaughter.

“MSU is giving Audrey opportunities she’s never had before,” Harper said. “When she was a little girl, she would sing along with me playing the piano. She’s always been interested in music. When they told me she had been accepted into this program, it didn’t surprise me a bit. She’s always had an opera voice.”

Harper noted that her granddaughter sang the national anthem at MRA for years, sang in the Cantabile Choir, a select girls choir in the Hinds, Madison, and Rankin area, and recently sang for the MSU Music Association.

“She’s going to learn how the Italian people are, such as how they act and talk,” Harper said. “She’s going to learn how to emote, which is very important. “She will know more about the world than just Mississippi, that’s for sure. I’ve sung in operas myself, so she’s following in my footsteps.”

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