Lucas Levy '12 and Austin Bradley '12 in William Bolcom's "A Wedding" 2011
Opera Theater is an important part of the vocal studies program as it provides training in all aspects of opera theater: staging, costumes, set design, and aural and language skills.
Every year, between 20 and 30 gifted singers enter degree programs in the Conservatory of Music. 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 take weekly private lessons with a major teacher and participate in studio classes. Voice studies students also have a wealth of opportunities to perform with the varied student and professional ensembles, choirs, Opera Theater, mainstage theater, a cappella groups, and other musical troupes that give recitals and concerts during the academic year.
Cast members from 2010 production of "The Bartered Bride"
Oberlin Opera Theater is an important part of the vocal studies program as it provides training in all aspects of opera—staging, costumes, set design, and aural and language skills. 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, and
- stage management.
Students interested in direction or management 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.
The theater presents two major productions with orchestra each year, and a small-scale opera is usually produced during winter term. Recent shows have featured Candide, Così Fan Tutte, the Magic Flute and Cendrillon (Cinderella).
Past opera theater conductors have included Robert Spano ’83, 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 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2008, Oberlin graduates Carolyn Betty, Alyson Cambridge, Alek Shrader, and Edward Parks, respectively, won the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.