The University of Memphis Opera at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music won first place in its division at the National Opera Association (NOA) Production Competition for its 2011 production of Mozart’s Idomeneo. This is the second win for the School of Music, winning in 2008 for Hansel and Gretel.
“We were up against some big dogs,” said Director Copeland Woodruff of his Division 5 competition. “Our division has seen such winners as Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Temple University, Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas. I’m so proud of everyone involved in this production. They dedicated so much time, hard work and love to this production and should be very proud of their work. I thank them and the University for making my job the dream that it is.”
For Woodruff, this is his fourth, first-place win. Woodruff is co-director of Opera Studies in the School of Music along with Mark Ensley who was conductor and music director of the production. Music student Malcolm Cooper, a member of the artist-in-residence program, was the title character Idomeneo. In partnership with Opera Memphis, artistsin- residence work toward Artist Diploma in Voice through the U of M.
Idomeneo tells the story of the King of Crete who returns home after the siege of Troy. Because of a vow to save his life, he has to sacrifice the life of his son, Idamante, to appease the god Neptune. Complicating matters, Idamante is in love with Trojan prisoner-of-war Ilia and loved by Greek princess Elettra.
The company’s production emulated the violence that Mozart incorporated in the composition of Idomeneo. He used the post-Trojan War heroes to add his own battle cry to the Enlightenment philosophers, artists, scientists and statesmen of the day. Just as Mozart's Trojan War is the background for his artistic lunge, this opera is the background for exploration of the movement from one generation to another and the violence of letting go.
The NOA was founded in 1955 to promote a greater appreciatation of opera. Membership extends to the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia. Each year the NOA selects winners from divisions, based on the production budget and size of the program.
The competition is judged by a panel of opera professionals who review videos of the entered productions with no knowledge of which opera companies submitted them. Productions are critiqued on vocal and orchestral performance, dramatic quality, stage direction, set, lighting and costumes.
Malcolm Cooper, Idomeneo
Christina Paz, Ilia
Annabeth Novitzki, Idamante
Katie Liesner, Elettra
Phillip Himebook, Arbace
Steven Albart, High Priest
Michael Montgomery, Set & Costume Design
Les Dickert, Lighting Design
Luke Hall, Props Design
Matthew Strampe, Technical Director