Some people wait for the big break that opens the door to the performing arts. Eric Glissmeyer feels he at least has his foot in the door.

Glissmeyer is a graduate student in vocal performance at Brigham Young University. He is also singing a secondary role in the Utah Opera Company's current production of "Otello," Giuseppe Verdi's opera based on one of Shakespeare's plays.Judith Frisbie-Goins, public relations and advertising director for Utah Opera, said providing opportunities for talented young people is the purpose of the opera company.

"Montano is not a large role," Glissmeyer said. "But they have made me feel important playing it."

Lila Stuart, Glissmeyer's teacher, said, "Eric has a natural stage savvy that even many professionals don't have."

He is very well-studied in all aspects of being a performer, said Stuart, who teaches voice at BYU. And she says he's a quick study. "If one were to make a list of the most important things about singing, the voice itself would not be No. 1."

Glissmeyer gets to show off this talent in Otello. His character is part of a choreographed sword fight.

"He needs the exposure on stage, but he is not quite ready for the `Iagos' (a larger role in Otello)," Stuart said.

Glissmeyer said he feels he is treated like a professional at the opera, so he feels more pressure to act like one.

"I feel like they trust me," he said. "They coached every little nuance in all 10 of my lines, and if I am told to walk as a 45-year-old would walk, I do. End of discussion."

"He is tireless in his musical perfectionism," Stuart said. Although Glissmeyer still has two years before he finishes his master's degree, he said it is nice to be a "little fish" in a big pond. It makes him work harder.

Glissmeyer hasn't always been a little fish.

Stuart said Glissmeyer has already done a lot of larger roles in BYU productions and he is ready for the opportunity to do something more professional.

At BYU, he sang in productions of La Boheme, Madame Butterfly and had a leading role in Carmen.

But one big difference between a university-level production and a professional production is that rehearsals on a professional level are much more efficient, Glissmeyer said.

Though they love it, opera performers rehearse because it is part of their work, he said.

"Another big difference between professional work and work at BYU is the sense of ensemble," he said.

At BYU, performers had classes together, sang together in other groups and were close friends outside of the opera rehearsals, he said.