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Graduate Performance Diploma in Opera

The Graduate Performance Diploma [GPD] in Opera is intended as a high-level pre-professional training program for singers who already have some professional experience behind them or who are clearly about to enter the profession. It offers a somewhat different operatic experience from that of other graduate students in several respects:

  • Opera GPD students get an individual coaching with the Opera faculty weekly, in addition to their regular voice lesson;
  • Both recitals in the Opera GPD may take the form of complete roles sung in opera performances with orchestra;
  • GPD students are required to perform in opera each semester, whether a role in a major production as above, or participation in a workshop or outreach production (see production opportunities), an operatic recital, or an internship with a professional company; and
  • The Opera faculty guarantees suitable assignments each semester, so that the above requirements can be met.

Because of the high demands on time and resources which such a program implies, no more than six students may be in the program at any one time, and the admission process is therefore highly selective; it is described in detail below. The course requirements for this two-year program are shown in the following table:

Voice Instruction (3 credits/semester) 12
Opera Coaching (1 credit/semester) 4
Recital (major role in opera performance) 2
Recital (major role or approved alternative) 2
Ensembles (opera participation in non-recital semesters) 4
Professional studies 8

There is some flexibility in this, in that each program is tailored to the needs of the particular student. With the permission of the department, a limited amount of professional activity outside the school may substitute for some of the above requirements, although Peabody performances must be given priority. A reasonable amount of coursework which is directly required for the student’s professional development may also be taken (sometimes on an audit basis) without additional fee. This includes language study and certain acting and performance-technique courses offered by the Opera Department (see classes for further details).

Two Opera GPD students, Lesley Craigie and Jessica Renfro,
onstage in GIANNI SCHICCHI, 2003
Two Opera GPD students, Lesley Craigie and Jessica Renfro,
onstage in Gianni Schicchi, 2003

Application and Auditions

Pre-Screening. So that we can spend adequate time with you when you come, we require applicants to go through a pre-screening process by submitting the following items by the advertised due date:

  • Return a completed application form with the appropriate processing fee.
  • Send a performance resume showing evidence of having performed five complete opera roles (at least two of which should be substantial in size) and/or professional experience in comprimario roles, apprentice programs, or chorus with a significant company.
  • Submit a DVD or VHS videotape in NTSC format, containing three arias, in English and two other languages. At least two of the arias should be simply staged, but not necessarily with costumes, furniture, or props. The three excerpts may either be taken from stage productions or recorded in the studio.

The resume and DVD/videotape should be sent to the Peabody Conservatory Admissions Office, 1 East Mount Vernon Place, Baltimore MD 21202–2397.

Repertoire Requirements. Opera GPD applicants are simultaneously applicants for the Voice GPD program. Due to the highly selective nature of the Opera GPD, we anticipate welcoming talented applicants into the Voice program even when their current level of experience is not judged to meet the specific requirements of the GPD in Opera. Such students, if accepted, will still have access to all the activities of the Opera Department. Even when an applicant is invited to audition specifically for the Opera GPD, we still ask to hear non-operatic material in addition to opera arias. This requirement enables us to test for the musicianship and interpretive skills expected at the GPD level, while keeping open the possibility of acceptance into the Voice GPD if the Opera audition should be unsuccessful. If invited to Peabody, therefore, applicants for the Opera GPD should expect to be auditioned in each of the following categories:

  • To sing from a program of five opera arias in four different languages, including English. At least three of these arias should be simply staged.
  • To sing from a program of five art-songs and/or oratorio arias, similarly varied in language.
  • To take a short test in language diction and sight-reading.

The Audition Process. Applicants for the Opera GPD will be scheduled for two separate auditions, typically spread over two consecutive days. At the general audition, applicants will sing an operatic aria of their choice, after which the Voice faculty may ask for further arias and/or non-operatic material at their discretion. At the opera audition, applicants will perform additional opera arias and interview with the Opera faculty.

In certain cases, students who have been admitted into the Voice GPD program may apply for transfer to the Opera GPD at a later date. With the concurrence of the Opera and Voice faculties, auditions for this purpose may be set up at any time, but the standards for acceptance remain the same as those for external applications.

For further information, eMail Roger Brunyate, the Opera Department chair.


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Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University
1 East Mount Vernon Place
Baltimore MD 21202
Department Chair: Roger Brunyate