Opportunities abound for students in the University of Memphis Opera Program. With multiple performance possibilities, students gain experience in ensemble, comprimario roles, young artist contracts and leading roles in both classical and contemporary works. Opera workshop, vocal coaching and master classes focus on the many aspects of vocal performance and stage presentation. Students pursuing a voice degree or other music degree, including music education, may participate in our performances.
Mark Ensley, Director of Opera Studies, who has served on the artistic staffs of Des Moines Metro
Opera, Tulsa Opera,
Opera Memphis and is a former faculty member of the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv.
Ben Smith, Opera Stage Director, who has led nineteen new
productions since 2000, ranging from Pergolesi's La serva padrona to Conrad Susa's The Dangerous Liasons.
Mignon Dunn, Artist-In-Residence, singer of leading mezzo-soprano roles, has performed in the most important opera houses of the world. Miss Dunn teaches one week per semester.
In addition to faculty in residence, the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music is dedicated to a program of master classes with today's leading figures in opera. Recent visiting artists include:
Giovanna Maresta, Teatro alla Scala
Stefano De Peppo, bass baritone
Gayletha Nichols, Executive Director, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions
Reed Woodhouse, The Juilliard School
Louis Otey, baritone
Claude Webster, Opera de Montréal
Marco Nisticó, baritone
Each year the University of Memphis Opera produces two to three operas or musicals with orchestra and a gala concert. Students work with professional designers and production personnel and have the opportunity to work backstage as a part of their total education. All operas are presented in the original languages with projected English supertitles. Hansel and Gretel (2008), Idomeneo (2011), and Così fan tutte (2013) all won first place for Best Opera Production in the National Opera Association Opera Production Competition.
In 2012, the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music teamed with the Department of Theatre and Dance to present an award-winning production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera for the University's Centennial Celebration.
The University of Memphis Opera also produced Raphäel Lucas' Confession for the National Opera Association/National Association of Teachers of Singing National Convention in January 2012 for a sold-out house of industry professionals.
2015/2016 The Beggar's Opera (Britten), Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor
2014/2015 Le nozze di Figaro, Speed Dating Tonight!
2013/2014 Così fan tutte*, Trouble in Tahiti, Miss Havisham's Wedding Night
2012/2013 Summer and Smoke, Don Giovanni
2011/2012 Idomeneo*, Confession, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera**
2010/2011 The Crucible, Tartuffe
2009/2010 Il barbiere di Siviglia (Act 1), Manon (Act 2), The Crucible (Act 1), The Old Maid and the Thief and The Medium
2008/2009 Hansel and Gretel*, Partenope
2007/2008 Werther,The Mystery of Edwin Drood**, Die Zauberflöte
2006/2007 Le nozze di Figaro, Die Fledermaus
2005/2006 La bohème, Parade**, Don Giovanni
2004/2005 The Promise***, Christopher Sly, Albert Herring
2003/2004 Il matrimonio segreto, Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor
2002/2003 Into the Woods**, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi
2001/2002 Così fan tutte, The Beggar's Opera (Britten), The Consul
2000/2001 Sweeney Todd**, Dido and Aeneas, Les contes d'Hoffmann
1999/2000 Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Don Giovanni
1998/1999 Hansel and Gretel, The Magic Flute
1997/1998 Le nozze di Figaro, Carmen
* Winner first place for Best Opera Production, National Opera Association Opera
** Joint production with The University of Memphis Department of Theatre and Dance
*** World Premiere in conjunction with the Department of Theatre and Dance and The Germantown Performing Arts Center
For production photos and news about the activities of the voice area area please visit our Facebook page.
Beyond the University
UofM Opera students perform often with professional companies in Memphis, TN, the MidSouth region, and beyond. Our students and alumni have also performed with opera companies nationally and internationally, including:
Ash Lawn Highland Summer Festival
Central City Opera
Des Moines Metro Opera
Deutsche Oper Berlin
English National Opera
Florida Grand Opera
Ft. Worth Opera
Houston Grand Opera
Israel Vocal Arts Institute
Lyric Opera of Chicago
Natchez Opera Festival
New Jersey Opera Theatre
New Orleans Opera
New York City Opera
Opéra de Lyon
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Royal Opera Covent Garden
San Francisco Opera
Santa Fe Opera
Seagle Music Colony
Teatro Real Madrid
Theatro de São Paulo
Washington National Opera
Voice Lessons and Coaching for Singers
Voice lessons and coaching offer singers instruction in opera as well as Lieder, oratorio, and art song. Voice lessons are open to both vocal performance and music education majors. Our outstanding faculty members are not only voice teachers and coaches, but also have vibrant performing careers and conduct research on the subject.