A Community of Artists and Audience
Introduction to the Opera Department
The Peabody Opera Department (JoAnn Kulesza, chair) serves the educational needs of students in the conservatory, while offering a variety of operatic performances to audiences in the Baltimore region. Whether onstage or in the studio, we believe our work reflects what we consider our most valuable quality: that sense of community which creates a close collaboration between students and teachers in the classroom, and brings a tight-knit spirit of ensemble to the stage.
Our public offerings each year range from the two major productions of the Peabody Opera Theatre to the numerous outreach performances of the Opera Outreach program, which brings opera to schools all across Maryland. In addition, The Peabody Chamber Opera presents performances of baroque opera, contemporary opera, and musical theater in a variety of venues such as the Walters Art Gallery and Baltimore’s Theatre Project, besides those in our own auditiorium, for a total of around 40 performances annually.
The mission of the Peabody Opera Department is to develop singers with the interpretive skills, dramatic understanding, range of experience, and above all professionalism required for continuing success in the opera field.
We aim to achieve this mission by providing a basic exposure to opera and at least small-scale experience to all voice majors in the school, adding to this the professional training for advanced students that will enable them to find continuing employment when they graduate. Although Peabody has had its share of competition winners (including the Metropolitan Opera and the Moscow Tchaikowsky Competitions), our prime emphasis is less on the individual star than on working professionals: singers whose preparation and collegiality will win them return engagements after the first are over.
Such singers will have acquired from their voice teachers a solid and flexible technique, musical expressiveness, and vocal stamina. They will be consummate musicians able to read with ease and learn music accurately and quickly. They will have command of at least the principal languages in which operas are sung. They will be adaptable, having performed in the widest possible range of repertoire: not only standard operas, but early music, contemporary opera, and even such musical theater as suits their voices. They will have learned to perform not only on the big stage, but also in conditions where the audience is almost close enough to touch. They will have come to regard opera as a living medium, not only through singing contemporary music but in many cases also collaborating on the creation of new works. Above all, they will have learned to handle themselves responsibly as professionals, in many cases gaining professional experience while still in school.