Members of the Doug Murdock Meistersingers frequently adopt personas who embody characters from the Renaissance age who speak - or rather, sing - in languages such as Italian, French and German.

The Meistersingers - who are led by Doug Murdock, of Northfield - are a Somers Point-based choir, conceived in 2006, that sings a variety of genres including choral jazz, musical theater, madrigals, opera, operetta, and oratorio.

The group consists of about 40 professional and amateur singers of different ages.

"Initially, I started the group for my students. I wanted to give them an opportunity to sing more challenging music," Murdock, who teaches vocal lessons, said. "Surprisingly, we have a number of very, very fine singers in (South Jersey)."

On May 4, the group is performing an operetta at Christ Episcopal Church, 157 Shore Rd., Somers Point, with selections from "Die Fledermaus," "Desert Song," "Gypsy Baron," "Naughty Marietta," "New Moon," "Merry Widow" and "Chocolate Soldier."

"In this particular concert, the selections are old favorites. They're works that are seldom done now," Murdock said. "They're selections that people really are familiar with even if they don't know it by the name. (The audience) can expect to hear different choruses and ensembles and solos."

This is the first operetta, Meistersinger member Betty Schiaffino said, that she can remember singing in English, and she has been with the group since its inception. In fact, she thinks this might be the first operetta that the group has performed.

"Operetta is a genre of light opera, in music and subject matter," Schiaffino said. "It's lighter and usually it's amusing, less serious, shorter - it pretty much was the precursor of musical theatre."

The Meistersingers, Schiaffino said, is a group that has a tremendous amount of talent, and fun. Once a year the group tries to put on a "magical" - an a cappella performance where the singers dress in Renaissance period clothing and sing to an audience or "court" that is enjoying dinner.

"It's like being in a palace in a king's court. It's very, very cool," Schiaffino said. "Everyone is in costume, and it's just truly wonderful. Even the people who come to the concert and dinner dress in Renaissance costumes. It's a lot of fun."

Although the group typically doesn't sing in English, speaking foreign languages is not a requirement for joining the Meistersingers.

"I give them the pronunciations. Sometimes lots of them love it, and sometimes they complain," Murdock laughed. "But even if they complain, they do it and they do it very well."

Murdock advises anyone interested in joining the Meistersingers to visit the group on Facebook or

email Murdockmeistersingers

Contact Devin Loring:


If You Go

WHAT: The Doug Murdock Meistersingers sing Operetta

WHEN: 3 p.m. May 4

WHERE: Christ Episcopal Church, 157 Shore Rd., Somers Point

MORE INFORMATION: Tickets are $10. Contact 609-377-5460.