Socially-active soprano a star alumna
Published: Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Updated: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 12:05
Gail Dobish, class of 1976, initially thought she'd be lucky if she could extend her powerful soprano opera voice beyond Ripon's city limits. Shortly after her college graduation, however, Dobish found herself performing lead operatic roles in theaters worldwide, including New York's Metropolitan Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Dobish, who has performed concert duets and arias with tenors Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, earned a master's at the Juilliard School in New York immediately after graduating from Ripon.
While Dobish acknowledges the fact that she gains personal satisfaction from singing, she emphasizes that she primarily aims to encourage a general social appreciation of the arts as a whole. Through each performance, Dobish attempts to personally connect with her audience.
"I want to touch people with my performances," Dobish said. "I hope that is what I've accomplished."
In addition to worldwide fan clubs and many fan sites on the Internet, Dobish also holds a strong fan base in Oshkosh, her hometown. She has served as the artistic director of Oshkosh's Friends of Opera, and she often returns to the area to perform with local organizations and teach classes for area students. In doing so, she seeks to encourage children to actively pursue their aspirations.
"When I get out on stage, I love what I'm doing," said Dobish. "The best advice I have for anyone, especially young children, is to find something you love and live your life accordingly."
Dobish recently spearheaded the development of an Oshkosh program specifically geared toward fine arts mentorship in middle and high school. Since the program's first performance of "Madame Butterfly" in 1997, Dobish's leadership has been instrumental in promoting an increased involvement in the arts in Oshkosh. Dobish notes that she was inspired to create the program while working in New York.
"A number of the places I've performed have brought students into the final dress rehearsal," Dobish said. "The Oshkosh program is an outreach program to expose kids to opera and to build audiences for the future."
Senior music major Claire Burgart admires the way in which Dobish has maintained such an active local involvement. "It's great to see someone who doesn't become completely distant after gaining success," said Burgart. "Her involvement with music education makes her even more admirable."
After promoting fine arts mentorship in Oshkosh, Dobish returned to New York with a newfound interest in social advocacy. Although she initially encountered difficulty in finding a means b y which to exercise her advocacy skills, Dobish ultimately fueled her passion by participating in a prominent housing conflict in New York's inner city.
"Powerful political leaders were trying to replace a residential