Ithaca College School of Music provides diverse opportunities to all undergraduate and graduate voice students interested in opera. With an emphasis on individualized instruction and practical performance experience, the Opera Curriculum offers courses and significant performance opportunities to students of all levels. Ithaca College alumni have matriculated into leading graduate programs, including CCM, Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Boston University, University of Houston Moores School of Music, and University of Michigan; and have performed with The Santa Fe Opera, Deutsche Opera Berlin, Houston Grand Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, and many others.
The Mainstage Opera is an annual collaboration between the School of Music and the Department of Theatre Arts. Open by audition to all students, it provides an opportunity for students of voice to be part of a complete operatic production. Here, students gain performance experience through collaborating with fellow cast members, directors, conductors, designers, technicians, and stage management. Students develop a deeper understanding of the how a production is conceived, from the first vocal coaching to closing night. Performances are fully staged with costumes, lights, sets, and full orchestra. Recent productions have included Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, Handel's Semele, Ravel's L'enfant et les sortileges, the regional premiere of Rachel Portman's opera The Little Prince in collaboration with the Ithaca Children's Choir, Monteverdi's Orfeo,Mozart's Magic Flute, Puccini's Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, and Chabrier's L'Etoile. The Spring 2020 production will be Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, conducted by Christopher Zemliausakas and directed by Norm Johnson.
Beyond the mainstage production, there are many other opportunities for students to perform and develop their skills.
Acting and Movement for the Opera Singer is a foundational course in acting for opera that is unique to Ithaca College. Open to voice students of all levels, students learn to engage with text and music to make specific, informed choices about character and action; employ props, costume pieces and the physical environment onstage to externalize character choices; develop spatial awareness and stagecraft technique; collaborate with a scene partner; survey the styles of acting and approaches to movement that most directly inform current professional practice. Topics and skills include stage combat fundamentals, Viewpoints, gesture, period movement, and role preparation. The course culminates in the dramatic preparation of a role and the public performance of an aria from that role as part of the class showcase.
Advanced Acting for Opera Singers is a series of intensive courses that explore acting and movement techniques for the advanced opera student. Topics have included Shakespeare and Classical Acting for the Opera Singer, in which students learn classical acting techniques from the Royal Shakespeare Company, prepare and perform a dramatic monologue from Shakespeare's plays, study major operatic adaptations of Shakespeare's work, and perform a scenes from these operas; Gesture and Movement for 18th-Century Opera and Role Preparation.
Juniors, seniors and graduate students are eligible to audition for Opera Workshop, an in-depth overview of the art, the craft, and the field of opera in today's world. Culminating in a staged performance in which students perform roles, Opera Workshop projects have included scenes programs, chamber operas and contemporary works. The initial goal of the class is to introduce students to all aspects of this art form that requires acute skills not only in singing, but also in acting, languages, movement, and much more. Opera Workshop offers a variety of training in such areas as audition technique, interpretation, and scene study through performance opportunities, collaborative group projects, and invaluable feedback - the overall objective being to facilitate self-assessment and self-awareness and to prepare the student to enter a field that is at once both challenging and rewarding.
Additional related courses include the Seminar in Opera Directing, an introductory course on directing for opera that is cross-registered with the Department of Theatre Arts, and Professional Management Skills for the Opera Singer, a practical course in how to write a résumé, prepare an audition package, research performance and training opportunities, create a website, network, and other necessary skills to prepare for a professional performance career.
Christopher Zemliauskas, Assistant Professor and Musical Director of Opera