From JoAnn Kulesza, Chair and Music Director—Warm greetings to all students, new and returning. Get ready for an exciting year! A veritable feast of productions awaits us all. Interesting classes, guests, and opportunities to satisfy every taste are on tap. I look forward to getting acquainted or "catching up" in our interview, to hear about your personal goals for this year and beyond.
All forms must be done on line. Click on the FORMS link above to register and fill out your basic information. The forms outlining your education and experience must be completed before your interview, and the remainder before your diagnostic audition.
The SEASON CALENDAR (currently in skeletal form)shows the outline of our 2017 Academic Year offerings. We begin with Cavalli’s enticing La Calisto, performing on Halloween in Friedberg Concert Hall. Roger Brunyate, director emeritus of the Opera Department, directs the action, in collaboration with Adam Pearl, who prepares the cast and Baroque band, and leads from the harpsichord. The first of our two mainstage operas is Englebert Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, sung in German, to be performed in November. Guest Director Tara Faircloth brings this story into a modern setting designed by Jayme Mellema. Maestro Simeone Tartaglione, a Peabody alumnus, is our conductor, shaping the music along with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra. Performances are November 18 & 20. Baltimore’s Theatre Project is the site of Peabody Chamber Opera’s Women in the Dark, a triad of works featuring situations in which females are "in the dark" by one definition or another. Sukey in the Dark by Thomas Whitman, Naomi in the Living Room by Jonathan Holland, and Anon by Errollyn Wallen promise to intrigue and engage their audience. The show dates are Febuary 16-19. Department Chair JoAnn Kulesza is the musical leader, with Courtney Kalbacker guiding the staging. Following right on the heels of that event is Le nozze di Figaro, Mozart’s comedic masterpiece, led by Peabody favorite Maestro Steven White. Double cast, the newly acoustically updated Friedberg Concert Hall provides the platform for the antics of these quintessential characters. They will be brought to life under the keen eye of our very own Garnett Bruce. The set is by Erhard Rom. Each cast will perform twice between March 9 and 12. Papageno! an abbreviated version of The Magic Flute, is our Peabody Opera Outreach offering. The artistic director is Catrin Davies, and the music director is Eileen Cornett. The show is performed in costume and on a full set. Two casts rotate in taking this show out to various schools and community venues. We are in the third year (of five) of a $10,000 grant commitment from the Yale Gordon Trust to fund Outreach performances in the Baltimore City and County schools; performing in these two locations is our priority. The first performance of Papageno! will be on November 5 and is open to the public. This year, our capstone presentation is a program of scenes/short operas from the American Opera canon, crafted expressly for the voices chosen to participate. With this wonderful array of repertoire, how can one not be excited to be a part of Peabody Opera in the coming year?
MEETINGS FOR NEW STUDENTS
All incoming students who are interested in opera performances or classes should come to a meeting in the Opera Studio, 114 Leakin Hall, on Thursday August 25th, at the following times: 9:45–10:45 for freshmen or undergraduate transfers, or 11:00–12:00 for graduates. If you can’t make one of these times, it is better to come to the meeting for the other group than not go to the appropriate one. People who have already been at Peabody in another program are not required to attend.
All students, whether new or returning, must sign up for an interview with JoAnn Kulesza between Thursday, August 25th and Tuesday, August 30th. Sign-up sheets for these will be posted on the Opera Board outside the Opera Office (114 Leakin Hall); these will also say where Ms. Kulesza will be on any particular day. The purpose of these interviews is to get to know new students and to touch base with returning ones, establishing preferences and priorities for the year ahead. Please schedule your interview before your diagnostic audition (see the following section). You should also have completed the Personal Data and Experience sections of the online forms (see above) before coming to the interview, whether or not you also bring a resume.
DIAGNOSTIC AND CALL-BACK AUDITIONS
Diagnostic auditions are required of everybody who wishes to participate in any aspect of the Opera program (including classes). These will take place in the afternoons and evenings of Monday, August 29th, through Wednesday, August 31st in Goodwin Hall. Audition times will be assigned by the department, so that singers from each studio can be grouped together and be heard by their teacher; times will both be posted on the Opera Board and emailed to you. Unlike previous years, freshmen and Opera GPD majors will sing diagnostic auditions with their regular studios.
For the diagnostic auditions, singers should be prepared to offer at least two arias. One of these must be in English, unless the singer is a native English speaker who has sung for us before. One or both of the arias should be simply staged, so that we can see how the performer creates a character in a dramatic context. [These requirements will be interpreted liberally for underclassmen, who may audition with one or more songs rather than arias if they wish, and/or perform a musical-theater excerpt, whether staged or not.] More advanced singers should present their five aria audition package. Singers who wish to use one of the Graduate Assistant pianists should sign up on the Opera Board to rehearse briefly with the accompanist assigned to their studio in advance of the auditions; they are also welcome to bring their own accompanist.
Callbacks for Peabody Opera Theatre, our mainstage productions, will be held in the afternoon/evening of Friday, September 2nd. Those interested in covering a role will be considered from the diagnostic auditions. Given the relatively short rehearsal time for our productions, preference will be given to singers who can show that they have already made substantial progress in learning the role for which they are applying. Specific required excerpts have been selected for each major role; the list will be posted on the Opera Board. Roles in the productions of the Chamber Opera, Opera Outreach, and scenes will be assigned from the diagnostic auditions without further callback. [Click here for more information on these categories.]
Please note, however, that since most roles for the year will be cast in early September, singers who do not make themselves available for the diagnostic auditions and callbacks may not get cast unless they have obtained a special dispensation in advance. Also note: Singers may not sign a binding contract with a professional chorus affecting their second-semester availability until the casting has been completed.
During the week after auditions, the faculty of the department will hold feedback sessions, in which students may ask for more information about how they came across in their auditions. These are entirely voluntary, and will be held on a sign-up basis. You should know that while the faculty always aim to be objective in support of the singer’s longer-term development, we would not be of any use to you if we were not honest; some students in the past have found our comments uncomfortable to hear. If you are new to us, of course, our feedback is based on having heard you once or possibly twice, and there is certainly much more to you than we could ever know. Nevertheless, most of the jobs that singers get are secured on precisely this basis—as the result of singing for somebody who hears them only that one time—so it is important to know how you actually come over in such circumstances, as opposed to how you think you do.
We work carefully to distribute performance opportunities among the students in the department, with an ear for potential as much as for talent. So far as possible, we try to give a varied diet over a student’s career, in terms of scale, genre, and period. Inevitably, more opportunities tend to go to the more advanced performers, although we try to program works suitable for younger singers also. Where several singers are suitable for a role, preference is given to full-time students in good academic standing. We have always tried to give every singer a role in an Opera Theatre or Chamber Opera production before they graduate, but must emphasize that this depends on numbers and the balance of voice-types and so cannot be guaranteed. Furthermore we generally do not give singers more than one sizeable role per year, except where this is unavoidable due to numbers; the main exceptions are Opera GPD majors, who are required to perform each semester.
All roles in the present season are open to audition. All roles in Le nozze di Figaro and Papageno! and will be double-cast if possible.
While casting decisions are made by the faculty of the department, all performance assignments are checked with the student’s voice teacher before being posted, and the teachers have the final say. Teachers do not nominate their students for roles, however, and casting is made without regard to studio. We also discuss our choice of repertoire with the voice faculty each year before it is announced. Very occasionally, we may have to withdraw a singer from a role during rehearsal if the teacher feels it is becoming harmful. Students may also be withdrawn if, in the judgment of the opera faculty, they cannot or do not meet our standards of role preparation, or who are hindering the progress of their colleagues.
Participation as a chorus member in a stage production is a valuable experience for a young singer. Both of our main stage productions this year have choruses. The chorus plays a very important part in most productions, often rendering some of the most beautiful music and rounding out the atmosphere and character of a show. We normally choose the singers to comprise the choruses based on your expressed desire to be a member of them. In the event there are too few of any voice type who volunteer, you may be asked to participate “for the good of the team.” We try to minimize the amount of musical and staging rehearsal time for the chorus members whenever possible. The most intense period of commitment is in the ten days prior to performance.
FACULTY AND ARTISTIC STAFF
The following people will be working with the department during the course of the year:
Our accompanying assistants for the year will be Hanna Shin, and Nathan Cicero. A third assistant will be added in September. Other pianists will also take on specific classes and projects during the course of the year.
Click here for a list of the Opera Department’s regular classes. The following additional points should be noted:
The Fall Opera Styles and Traditions Class: Opera in Performance will be taught by JoAnn Kulesza.
The Spring Opera Styles and Traditions Class: a Practical Overview, will be taught in "pod" format. These sections will include: stage combat, Alexander Technique, wigs and make-up, costume/attire, and audition strategies, among others. Admittance in to the class is at the discretion of the faculty.
At certain times in the year, Garnett Bruce will offer non-credit coaching for singers preparing arias for professional audition.
RETURN TO MENU