Mary Setrakian was born and raised in San Francisco.
She has been a resident of New York City for the past 20 years performing
professionally, in conjunction with teaching master voice to a variety of
artists in New York, Los Angeles and internationally throughout Italy. She
has been seen on Broadway in "Hello, Dolly!" starring Carol Channing,
and toured the US and Europe with shows including "Phantom of the Opera"
(Madame Giry), "Les Miserables," "Hello, Dolly!" and "Evita"
(as Eva Peron in Duisberg, Germany). Mary was featured at
in "Jubilee" directed by Herbert Ross.
As a voice teacher, Mary prepared Nicole Kidman for her Golden Globe
Award winning and Oscar nominated performance in her first musical, Baz
Luhrman's "Moulin Rouge." She taught the stars of John Turturro's
musical movie "Romance & Cigarettes" to sing, including Kate Winslet,
James Gandolfini and Bobby Cannavale.
Mary is presently working for Disney as the voice coach to cast members
of Phil Collins' Broadway show, "Tarzan." Her services were
also called upon by Disney for the Broadway and touring companies of
Elton John's "Aida" and "The Lion King," and Andrew
Lloyd Webber's "Bombay Dreams." Other students include Juliette
Binoche, Milla Jovovich, Annabella Sciorra, Mandy Moore,
Keri Russell, Tate Donovan, Josh Strickland, Simone,
Patrick Cassidy, Kelli Fournier, Elizabeth Hendrickson
as well as actors and singers who are just starting out.
Mary is a graduate of Stanford University and holds a Masters in Voice Performance
from the New England Conservatory with Distinction. She studied at the Tanglewood
Music Festival with Phyllis Curtain and was a voice student of
Mary Setrakian teaches a voice class at the acting studio of Susan
Batson and Carl Ford,
in New York City and in Los Angeles. She has studied acting with her mentor,
Susan Batson, for 20 years.
Mary is presently giving Vocal Workshops in NYC, LA and throughout Italy.
She went to Rome six times last year, teaching and performing, and returned
this October and November 2006 to teach
in Rome and Milan.
Presently, Mary is performing her one-woman "salons" and concerts with orchestra
around the country and in Rome, Italy. She made her concert debut in Milan,
Italy, this November with the Avant Orchestra. The evening of Big
Band meets Broadway was a special night for the nearly sold out crowd at
the Teatro Delle Erbe.
The organization and management of Mary Setrakian's courses and
concerts while she is in Italy is taken care of by Domenico Stante, a Roman
actor who had the honour of bringing her to Italy for the first time two years ago,
after having followed a one-month course with Mary Setrakian at Susan
Batson's acting studio, Black
Nexxus in New York City. Domenico Stante is in charge of the
scheduling of the courses in Rome and Milano and in Italy in general, and is the
person that may be contacted for information.
This course in Milano is the second course ever held by Mary Setrakian
in our city. The first one, held in June, was a three-day course, and this one,
the first five-day course held in Milano, which included a Showcase at the end of
the course. Mary Setrakian has held twelve courses in Rome in the past two
years, and her students keep wanting her back, while new students keep enrolling.
we meet Mary Setrakian on the first day, we meet a very energetic and positive
person. We all come with our scores and each one of us has one or two different
songs to sing. Mary Setrakian sits at the piano and accompanies every student
listening very carefully as they sing. Then Mary leads us all to another room where
she introduces us to the "circle dance." Mary puts us in a circle and calls
each one of us into the center of the circle to dance to the music, and, as she
told us "to release our bodies, emotions and minds." All the other students
around the student in the middle follow their dance, dropping into a character of
that person. After the "circle dance," Mary stands in front of each student
and asks "What are you aware of?" This question is the beginning of our individual
journies in the class. Mary will ask this question many times in the course, "What
are you aware of?" Since our bodies, emotions and minds are also a part of our singing
instrument, we have to become "aware" of every part of ourselves.
After the "circle dance," Mary approaches vocal technique issues,
and we all do exercises on support and breathing and connecting our voice to our
Already the energy in the room becomes very positive. We're not only trying
to understand it for ourselves, but help each other "get it." The atmosphere we
all breathe is very supportive. Mary Setrakian is a very supportive, talented
and gifted teacher. We immediately go on with other acting exercises that involve
visualization, working on the fourth wall, and finding one's need, which are important
actor tools that will be used during the whole course.
this, Mary Setrakian works on connecting the deep emotions and the need of
each one of us to our voice technique. During our individual work in front of the
class, she helps us release tension in the voice technique and connect the intimacy
of the need to our work. I realize that the changes in our performance are immediately
the second and third days of the course, we start with the "circle dance" and then
go on to the other exercises; but now we start working a little more on our character.
We also go on with new voice technique exercises. Then Alessio Quaresima Escobar,
a classical pianist from Rome, arrives and accompanies us all for the next four
days under the careful guidance and suggestions of Mary, connecting the acting technique
with the voice technique. The work we carry on is very intimate and we are all honing
our craft in this very supportive atmosphere.
The fourth course day is the last course day before the student showcase.
We run the show twice and do our best to put into practice all that we've experienced
and learned with Mary during these intense days.
On Sunday we all meet at the Atmosphere Live Club in Milano, where
the showcase will be held. We have a sound check, we perform the show, and then,
before we even know it, the showcase is over! The result of our efforts and of Mary's
teaching is evident in our performances. We know how we started on Wednesday, and
we are aware of the blossoming each one of us experienced. And, we are already looking
forward to Mary Setrakian's next visit, which will be in February (Rome) and March
(Milano) 2007. (The pictures that accompany
this article are pictures of the student's showcase at the Atmosphere Live Club
Personal note: This experience has been very important to me. I believe
Mary Setrakian is a very gifted and talented educator, and I truly believe
I would have missed something very important if I hadn't met her. I had a chance
to work more than I usually do as a jazz singer with acting while singing. I realized
what great expressive power we all have, and what great emotional intensity may
be reached by using these acting tools. Of course we all had to face the fact of
"being naked" in our emotions, and this is something that may make somebody unsure,
or raise some defences. But Mary supported each of us in our individual journies.
I sang a piece I have been singing for years, but with Mary I connected my singing
with my acting. At first, I wasn't sure of what I had to do. But listening to Mary's
suggestions, and then being inspired by the other performers in the class, I understood
what my job was about. I felt I had the permission to be that character, and it
all became so easy and natural! During the performances of the other artists, at
times the tools they used were so effective that some of us were moved to tears.
Moreover, Mary Setrakian's voice technique instructions are clear and very effective.
I already used some of the tools Mary gave to me in my concerts, and I'm very happy
with the results.
Here are some links in case some readers would like to browse or contact the organizers
for Mary Setrakian's courses in Italy:
Mary Setrakian's official website: HYPERLINK
Domenico Stante (Italian manager and organizer of the courses). HYPERLINK
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Publishing Date: 03/02/2007