At first glance, Janie Rife looks like any other college student.
Perfect posture and expressive motions hint at her talents, but it is not until she begins speaking that one truly sees the distinctions. Shades of Italian hide in her diction, and suddenly this normal college student transforms into RMC junior Janie Rife, opera singer and flautist.
Knowing Janie is to know a performer. Taking on vocal and flute performance majors with a psychology minor, Janie spends a majority of her time at RMC living music.
Most recently, she lived Giovanna in the Rimrock Opera production of Verdi's Rigoletto.
"This is my seventh opera," she said. "My first was in 2009, it was Carmen, and after that I was hooked."
The seven operas in her repertoire explain the traces of Italian mixing with her Montana accent.
"It's pretty easy for me to transition [from English to Italian]," she said. "I like singing in Italian particularly; it just suits the character and the music, and it would feel a little wrong singing Verdi in English."
Her character – the deceitful nurse of female lead Gilda – showcased Janie's voice. Opera is a medium that features vocalists in their natural state. Without the support of microphones, operatic singing forces performers to fine-tune their vocal range and color.
Singing in the opera also drives performers to push boundaries and convey a story to audiences who likely cannot understand the Italian vocals. For Janie, watching the evolution of the story is her favorite part of a performance.
"I love staging," she said. "To watch it go from just standing in a circle singing to becoming a show is my favorite part of a production."
Not that she'll admit to disliking anything about the opera.
"There wasn't really anything I dislike about my character," she said. "I just wanted more of it."
When Janie would have time for "more of it" is a mystery. Prior to her performance in Rigoletto, she played with the RMC band and sang with the College's choir and chamber choir. But even after a day filled with four separate performances, Janie wanted more.
Fortunately, she has a lifetime to perform. After graduating from RMC, Janie plans to attend graduate school.
At RMC, Janie has found the opportunity to pursue not only her performance desires, but the knowledge to pass on her passions.
"I'd like to perform as much as I can, but I'd also like to have a studio where I teach vocal and flute lessons, with students and recitals," she says. "Sounds like a good life for me."
Today, this composed young woman is Janie Rife, operatic singer, flautist, student audiophile; but in the future, she will be Janie Rife, instructor, passing on her love of music and sharing her voice with the world.
Students at Rocky Mountain College aren't ordinary – they're extraordinary. Given the opportunity, RMC students, like Janie Rife, are not only capable of transforming into Italian opera characters, but of transforming the world around them.