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Art Ambassador

Caroline Purtell

Mary Koehler finally acquiesced to the pleas of the small French group gathered. Standing on the stage of the still-under-construction music conservatory in Nice, France, the group pleaded for her to sing, despite the environmental and acoustic challenges—a missing ceiling, the lack of a proper floor, random construction equipment. So the 26-year-old 2001 graduate—outfitted in a hard hat and singing soprano—unofficially christened the new conservatory by singing a selection from the opera, The Daughter of the Regiment.

The impromptu concert came last spring while Koehler was on a four-week Rotary scholarship to France in which she gave talks on life in Cincinnati and studied with vocal coach Mary Dibbern of the Opéra Nationale de Paris.

This fall, Koehler joined the Young Artist Program of the Indianapolis Opera, which is composed of young professional singers chosen through a national audition. The program stages various operas and conducts outreach programs to area schools. Although the young artist program runs though April, Koehler is already auditioning for her next engagement—a routine to which she’s grown accustomed.

“It’s hard not to know where you’re going to be,” she says. “So it really is auditioning and seeing what happens.”

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