Lucas Levy '12 and Austin Bradley '12 in William Bolcom's "A Wedding" 2011
A vital component of the Vocal Studies program, Oberlin Opera Theater provides training in all aspects of opera theater: staging, costumes, set design, and aural and language skills.
Every year, 20 to 30 gifted singers enter degree programs in the conservatory. These students receive instruction from faculty members with impressive performance and academic attainments, and take courses on technique, performance readiness, musicianship, musical style, and linguistic accuracy. All students engage in weekly private lessons with a voice teacher and participate in studio classes.
Vocal Studies students also have a wealth of opportunities to perform with student and professional ensembles, choirs, Oberlin Opera Theater, mainstage theater, a cappella groups, and other musical troupes that present recitals and concerts during the academic year.
Cast members from 2010 production of "The Bartered Bride"
Opera Theater students take weekly classes that cover:
- fundamentals of acting for singers, emphasizing techniques of body movement through exercise and pantomime
- preparation of opera scenes
- character development, with emphasis on learning period styles and acting techniques unique to opera
- opera stage direction
- stage management
Students may also take courses in directing, stage management, costume design, stage design, theater sound, and theater management offered by the Theater and Dance programs in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students enrolled in various opera classes also perform in a program of opera scenes presented each semester. Special programs are sometimes presented off campus and in the community, such as the Oberlin Summer Theater Festival.
Oberlin Opera Theater presents two major productions with orchestra each year, in addition to a small-scale opera that is usually produced during winter term. Recent shows have included La finta giardiniera, Albert Herring, Street Scene, and Il mondo della luna.
Past opera theater conductors have included Robert Spano ’83, Christopher Larkin, Stephen Lord, Ward Holmquist, and Ari Pelto. The program has developed some of today’s brightest stars, including Denyce Graves, Franco Farina, Christopher Robertson, Lisa Saffer, and Robert Sims. In recent years, Oberlin graduates Carolyn Betty, Alyson Cambridge, Alek Shrader, and Edward Parks have won the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.