From Dr. Samuel Mungo, Managing Artistic Director – Hello, and welcome to Peabody Opera! As the newly appointed Director, I want to E-introduce myself to both incoming and returning students. The faculty, staff and I have already been deeply involved in planning, scheduling and designing the Peabody Opera 2017-18 season, one that is sure to be challenging and fun – exactly what you should expect! Due to short startup time, I will be able to chat officially with incoming graduate students only. Of course, I am always available to chat with anyone who wishes to at any time open on my schedule. I will be putting up a schedule on my office door, and you can sign up whenever you wish. I so look forward to meeting everyone, and to our fabulous season!
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 shows the outline of our 2017–2018 season. We begin with a program of opera scenes, chosen specifically for those cast – an opportunity for you to sink your teeth into some of the world's greatest music and characters, and to work with resident stage director Garnett Bruce and Peabody Opera music director JoAnn Kulesza. We follow that up with the first of our mainstage productions, Donizetti’s sparkling L'elisir d'amore. New manaing director Samuel Mungo will set the love triangle of Adina, Nemorino, and Belcore, (and the wily Dulcamara), on an early 1960's American university campus. Award-winning designer la Ënstera will help bring us to a world of 2nd wave feminism and the first chafing of youth against the establishment that led to the cultural upheaval of the late '60's. Think The Graduate meets Animal House. Maestro Leonardo Vordoni, who conducted Peabody Opera’s Don Giovanni in 2012, will return as music director. February brings us one of the premier opera composers working today, Jake Heggie (Moby Dick, Dead Man Walking), to Baltimore for masterclasses and work on his newest piece, Out of Darkness: Two Remain, based on the true stories of two Holocaust survivors: Polish dissident Krystyna Zywulska and gay German Jew Gad Beck. Jake and librettist Gene Scheer are currently rewriting portions of the opera, and we will be the first to perform this new incarnation. Performances will be held at the Theatre Project, under the direction of Garnett Bruce and musical direction of Eileen Cornett. Our second mainstage production is Massenet’s madcap Chérubin, a take on Beaumarchais’ randy Cherubino of Nozze fame and his life after Figaro. Samuel Mungo will lead this traditional production with French conductor Laurent Pillot. Among his many credits are LA Opera, New York City Opera, and L'Opera National de Lyon. We complete the season with a nod to the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great Leonard Bernstein. In anticipation of Peabody Institute’s production of Bernstein’s Mass in Fall of 2018, we will offer a taste of his output, from Broadway to opera and concert stage. Outreach to the community is a longstanding and vital aspect of Peabody Opera, and we are in the fourth of five year, $10,000 grant commitment from the Yale Gordon Trust to fund Outreach performances in the Baltimore City and County schools. We will be commiting two productions to this endeavor throughout the year. We are pleased to bring back Courtney Kalbacker, who led last year's chamber opera Women in the Dark, to direct one of these pieces, Errollyn Wallen’s hard-hitting Anon, on the topic of the sex trade. JoAnn Kulesza will musically direct. For the younger set, we will offer Where in the World is Opera a show created by two Peabody graduate students, under the mentorship of Catrin Davies. During all of this, we will begin the process of preparation for the aforementioned production of Mass. Masterclasses and events with members of the production team, casting, and preliminary work will keep this important show in our minds throughout the year. As you can see, it will be a busy, rewarding season. Get ready, 'cause here it comes! – Sam
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 24th, at 9:30am. People who have already been at Peabody in another program are not required to attend.
All new students (except freshmen) must sign up for an interview with Sam Mungo on Thursday, August 24th. Sign-up sheets for these will be posted on the Opera Board outside the Opera Office (114 Leakin Hall). The purpose of these interviews is to get to know new students, 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 28th, through Wednesday, August 30st 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.
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 evening of Friday, September 1st. 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, Dr. Mungo will be available for feedback, 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 L'elisir d'amore, Chérubin, and ANON 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 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 Natasha Talukdar, Hanna Shin, and Nathan Cicero. 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. There will be a focus on recitative.
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