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NOA NOTES Newsletter
Vol. 38, No. 3
August/September 2015

In This Issue

From the President
From the President Elect
From the Vice-President of Conventions
From the Vice President for Regions
From the Editor
From the Finance Committee
NOA Call for Papers
NOA Call for Posters
Impresario Insights
2015 NOA Stage Director Intern Jen Stephenson

Upcoming Deadlines and Events

Registration for the 2016 NOA/NATS convention

DUE October 1, 2015: Call for Posters for the 2016 joint NOA and NATS convention in Indianapolis, Indiana due (see details below).

DUE October 1, 2015 : Scholarly Paper Competition
(see details below)

David HolleyFrom the President

David Holley

Director of Opera and Professor of Music
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Artistic Director, Greensboro Opera

Registration is now open for our 61st Annual Convention, here in Indianapolis from January 6-10, 2016. Your Convention Committee has put together an exciting week full of master classes, performances, competitions, and informative sessions to inspire and energize you and your students. Check out the highlights of each day of the convention in this issue of NOA Notes.

Our wonderful Vice-President for Conventions, Ruth Dobson, has given you an exciting and thorough picture of the many sessions you’ll experience in her column, but I thought I’d highlight one: the 20th Anniversary celebration of our Legacy Initiative!

NOA launched the Legacy Initiative at our 1995 convention in Boston, where 300 singers, conductors, and educators gathered from around the world to commemorate the 50th anniversary of singer Todd Duncan’s contract with New York City Opera. That year, we honored Todd Duncan, Mattiwilda Dobbs, Robert McFerrin, and Camilla Williams as the first recipients of the “Lift Every Voice” Legacy Award. This award recognizes significant contributions to the operatic profession, and although the majority of the recipients are leading soloists, recipients have also included conductors, directors, composers, and educators. Friday night’s celebration, What's Past Is Prologue: The Legacy Continues, is one you will not want to miss!

Come to the heartland in January, and bring your students to experience Heritage and Hope: Celebrating Diversity in Performance and Pedagogy!!

See you soon!!


From the President Elect

Reg Pittman

Professor of Music Chair, Voice Division
School of Music, Theatre, and Dance
Kansas State University


Dear NOA Colleagues,
I’m looking forward to seeing you at our National Conference in Indianapolis. Our convention will be another exciting collaboration with NATS., the National Association of Teachers of Singing. An outstanding lineup of speakers, sessions and special guests will highlight the conference. The Conrad is a beautiful hotel, located in the heart of Indianapolis, near many wonderful restaurants and shopping centers.
I’ve had the opportunity this summer to attend the NOA mid-year board of directors meeting, and the annual meeting of NATS, as governor, representing the West Central Region of NATS. I can tell you first-hand that these two organizations are fortunate to have dedicated and passionate leaders.
As co-chair of the Opera Stage Director Intern Committee, I want to thank Paul Houghtaling and the Druid City Opera Workshop for hosting our 2015 NOA Intern, Jen Stephenson. Ms. Stephenson shares more about her experience  in this edition of NOTES. As the Intern committee is preparing to advertise for the next potential intern, please share the information with any aspiring stage directors looking for this type of life-changing experience.

From the Vice-President for Conventions

Ruth Dobson

Vice-President for Conventions



"Heritage and Hope: Celebrating Diversity in Performance and Pedagogy"
Honoring the 20th Anniversary of the "Lift Every Voice" Legacy Awards
The Conrad Hotel, Indianapolis
January 6-10, 2016

Exciting plans are nearly set for the 2016 NOA Convention in Indianapolis, which will be held at the beautiful Conrad Hotel in the heart of the city's vibrant downtown. A full convention schedule will be available on the NOA website by August 1. Registration details are on the website now. You can also conveniently pay your dues while you are registering by visiting the Payments and Purchases link on the Member area of the NOA website.

For those arriving early in Indianapolis, there will be a Wednesday evening pre-convention dinner from 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm right in the spectacular Conrad Hotel glass-domed Artsgarden. The first ever NOA Convention open-mic session follows the dinner, with NOA and NATS members joining in the singing. Indianapolis-based Great American Songbook pianist David Duncan will be our accompanist for the evening. Bring your music and join in the fun! Reservations are required for this dinner. Also look for this event on the Payments and Purchases link on the Member area.

The convention kicks off formally on Thursday with the opening ceremonies and luncheon, with legendary soprano Martina Arroyo as our Keynote Speaker. Following the luncheon will be the first Legacy session, Heritage and Hope from the African American Experience: Career Insights and Advice from Three Successful Generations. Panelists will include past NOA Legacy "Lift Every Voice" honorees George Shirley, Olive Moorefield Mach, and other distinguished guests.

The Legacy festivities continue on Friday evening with a gala concert, What’s Past is Prologue: the Legacy Continues, honoring the Legacy Lift Every Voice Awards. A complete list of guest artists for the concert will be announced soon. Former Legacy Award winner George Shirley, the first African-American tenor to sing a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera, will be additionally honored by NOA with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gala Banquet on Saturday evening.

Other special sessions include an Opera America Singer Training Forum with Jeffrey Larson, Artistic Services Manager at OPERA America and Carleen Graham, Director of the Crane Opera Ensemble, SUNY Potsdam. The session will facilitate dialogue between collegiate-level opera directors, voice teachers, young artist program managers, administrators, artist managers and others to help share resources and improve methods for identifying talented singers and providing well-rounded training to best prepare them for careers in opera.

NATS brings Juilliard faulty member Margo Garrett to the convention for a Collaborative Piano Summit in Three Sessions. The three sessions will address several topics, including "Building a Collaborative Piano Program", "Developing a Curriculum for a Collaborative Piano Program", and "The Down and Dirty Guide to Playing Orchestral Reductions and Teaching Others to Play Them."

NATS presenters also include Julia Faulkner, Director of Vocal Studies for The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, Lyric Opera of Chicago. Ms. Faulkner will present two Saturday sessions, Teaching the Elite Singer, a Conversation with Julia Faulkner, and a master class, Coaching Singer and Pianist Teams in the Performance of Opera Arias, which she will present in collaboration with Margo Garrett from the Juilliard School.

NOA popular annual sessions Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition, the Vocal Competition, and the presentation of the winner of the Chamber Opera Competition will also be part of the convention. The winning 2015 chamber opera, The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret, by Leanna Kirchoff, composer and librettist, will be presented by Indiana Wesleyan University on Friday evening.

The Sacred in Opera Initiative of NOA will present a performance at the historic Christ Church Cathedral Episcopal, two blocks from the Conrad Hotel, on the beautiful and historic Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. Jess Munoz, from the faculty of Indiana Wesleyan University, is coordinating the performance, which will showcase excerpts from a new Sacred Opera by William David Cooper commissioned by Second Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis last year.

Meet with colleagues from your region at the NOA Governor's No-Host Luncheon on Friday. This is an opportunity to meet with other NOA members from your geographical area, to plan activities, collaborations, and to just say hello. Reservations are requested for this no-host lunch and can be made at the NOA registration desk after you arrive at the convention.

We know you will want to attend this exciting and important convention honoring the 20th anniversary of the "Lift Every Voice" Legacy Awards of NOA.


From the Finance Committee

Carol Ann Modesitt, treasurer

Chair, Finance Committee
Chair 2015 Annual Campaign
Music Department
Southern Utah University

From the Finance Committee:
E-mails were sent to the membership this year to raise money for our 2015 Annual Campaign, instead of sending letters through the mail.  Please remember that your dues cannot begin to fund all of the great programs and competitions that NOA sponsors.  It is the hope of the officers and board that our members will find it in their hearts and budgets to help support the organization as it tries to fund the needs of the directors, teachers, students, and singers who count on our organization and its special programs.  

So far this year, our 2015 Annual Campaign has raised $3,975.00!  Thank you for your contributions.

Tiered List
Director, $1.000 and greater
Carol Notestine in honor of Dr. Robert Hansen
Diva/Divo, $500 and below
Bruce Gardner
Répétiteur, $100 and below
Robert Chauls
Carleen Graham
Milton Granger
Adriana Hardy
Kathleen Roland-Silverstein
Comprimario, $25 and below
Juliana Hoch in memory of Dr. Carl Gerbrandt

From the Vice-President for Regions

Paul Houghtaling

Associate Professor of Voice
Director of Opera Theatre Director
The Druid City Opera Workshop
University of Alabama School of Music

Greetings, everyone.  
I hope you are all enjoying a productive summer. It seems that it’s been unusually hot in many parts of the country and while I hope you’ve all found ways to stay cool, I also hope the heat has kept the embers of year-round excitement for NOA well-fanned and on the verge of flames.  Ok, so I can run with almost any image, but all for the good of the cause.  Things tend to slow down in the summer, and we all need a break, but our mission at the regional level is to maintain that energy which comes out of our wonderful conventions. Greensboro was such an engaging experience, and David, Ruth, and the Convention Committee, including an indefatigable group of local host/friends from Indiana Wesleyan University, are working hard to make Indianapolis just as special.  But we need your help.
Get involved in your area, help us spread the word in your region that NOA has something for everybody, and not just singers and collegiate opera directors. There will be sessions of interest to collaborative pianists, conductors, and artists involved in all levels of the university opera experience. But the interest has to start at the local, state and regional levels. It can’t be enough to convene nationally once a year.  We have too much to offer and the national level needs deep roots in order to prosper, roots at the local and regional level.  Our relevance and presence deserves to be felt all year long.  So, get involved in your state and your region. We have a place for you; we need your passion and your talents.  Call me.  Write to me.  Let’s talk about NOA in your region!

From the Editor

Kathleen Roland-Silverstein

Assistant Professor
Setnor School of Music
Syracuse University

My job as NOTES editor is to solicit and peruse content for this newsletter, and to carefully read the columns written by your board members and other colleagues at the National Opera Association.  This is the time of year when the momentum heats up and we see the various parts of the puzzle that make up our next convention fall into place. As I read Ruth Dobson's contribution, describing the many offerings NOA and NATS will be making this coming January, I was struck by the description of the Legacy 20th anniversary theme of our convention. Every year, when we honor another hero, another artist who strove to erase the boundaries of racial discrimination in our field, such as George Shirley, the first African American to sing a leading tenor role at the Met, I am moved to tears by the contributions made by these amazing artists and their descriptions of their journeys.

Our new column, Impresario Insights, is sure to spark conversations across the country about the challenges of creating an effective opera workshop on a shoestring. Let us know what you think about Dr. Houghtaling's ideas about "The Teaching Component in a One-Man Opera Workshop Program."
Make your plans now to come to Indianapolis this January for the Heritage and Hope: Celebrating Diversity in Performance and Pedagogy convention, and

  • Be inspired!
  • Be moved!
  • Be excited!
Onward and upward,

2015 NOA Stage Director Intern

Jen Stephenson

This past summer, the National Opera Association's Stage Directing Internship program afforded me the opportunity to study and work at the Druid City Opera Workshop in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Through this program, founded and directed by Paul Houghtaling, I was able to work with various knowledgeable and talented leaders of our industry who offered me supportive and enthusiastic instruction as I directed several opera scenes performed by emerging professional artists.  I could not have been more thrilled with the program, learning a wide variety of important skills and tools that will be essential to me as I continue to forge ahead in my career.  Each of the faculty was engaging and truly passionate about their craft, and all expressed their availability to me to ask questions and advice during the program and beyond.  I am grateful for the wonderful experience that I had at the Druid City Opera Workshop, and thankful to the National Opera Association's Stage Directing Internship Program for allowing me the opportunity to work with such a fantastic and dedicated group of professionals!    
Jen Stephenson
Jen was an outstanding intern in every way, and we were very pleased with her work. It was special for us to see her work with Emily Martin-Moberley, the first NOA Stage Directing Intern, who now returns as a regular member of the Druid City faculty. We were happy to offer this opportunity for an NOA intern. The participants responded beautifully to Jen’s direction. Our entire stage directing staff was excited by Jen’s work and her potential as Jen now moves to Kansas, where she will be Assistant Professor and Director of Opera at Tabor College.
Paul Houghtaling, Director of the Druid City Opera Workshop

Impresario Insights

In this, our new regular column created for those of us laboring in the world of opera in academia, we bring you contributions from some of our stellar NOA opera workshoppers. If you would like to share nuggets of wisdom regarding this very important topic, please send your column to the editor, Kathleen Roland-Silverstein, at

Me Myself and I:  The Teaching Component in a One-Man Opera Workshop Program
Paul Houghtaling, DMA
Director of Opera Theatre
University of Alabama

Let’s face it … not all of us work at colleges or universities with large opera programs, meaning those which come with a full array of professional personnel: stage director, coaches and music directors, perhaps additional teachers and directors, not to mention administrative assistance and dedicated production support such as scenic and costume shops, stage management, marketing, etc.  Many of us run one-man shops in which any sort of opera happenings, whether they include some degree of performances alone or opportunities operating in conjunction with a training component. These are often only a portion of the instructor’s teaching load.  Depending on the size or priorities of the institution, it is quite common for something called “Opera Workshop” to be headed by one individual, who also teaches voice and possibly other music courses in the degree curriculum, such as diction or literature classes.  The cause for this common situation, whether an economic necessity based on the size of a school, or the short-sightedness of music department administrators, varies, but the fact remains that an effective opera program must contain some sort of training component in addition to rehearsals and performances. The value of getting scenes presentations or even modest productions with piano is lessened if the students don’t truly know what they’re doing up on that stage. What have they learned about true preparation? Do they know how to move across the stage? Have they been exposed to the skills which will allow them to create believable, honest characters, or at least begin to do so? And we can’t forget about the art of the audition. The sole-proprietor opera workshop instructor can often serve as the music director as well, meaning that any additional time outside of staging rehearsals is often used for musical preparation.
A few generations ago, we would not have batted an eye at this, but for a student to be fully prepared to win professional opportunities in today’s opera industry, the goal should be a structured training component, a “curriculum,” within every opera workshop program. Short of demanding a reduction of your teaching load or the addition of additional teaching and staff lines, it is completely possible. Are there obstacles and challenges? Absolutely. But this article offers suggestions on how to begin to implement a basic training component, and here is the best news: it doesn’t have to cost any money nor does it need to add hours onto your teaching load. 
Time is of the Essence
Obviously, adding to the number of hours students meet for opera workshop each week is the best solution, thereby separating classes from rehearsals.  But, as mentioned above, that may add hours to the instructor’s schedule if he or she is truly a one-man shop, and if doing so is even a logistical possibility.  Opera needs space, after all, and space can be hard to come by.  And many institutions don’t allow overloads.  Is a reduction in teaching load a possibility so that more hours can be devoted to the opera program? If so, seize the moment. But let’s assume that isn’t the case.  How, then, do you add classes, a training component, into your opera workshop program without altering the schedule? 
Divide your Semester or your School Year
The first option is to spend the first part of each semester in classes.  Devote the first five weeks of the term to classes in basic acting, movement and dance, improvisation, music business, and audition class.  Who teaches these classes, you might ask?  You do!  Yes, it’s possible. There are many texts and online resources available to easily develop a series of acting classes and improvisation exercises for young singers. (By the way, NASM is pushing for more and more improvisation throughout the curriculum, not just in the vocal and theatrical arena.)  The acting games and exercises don’t have to be complex or at an advanced level, but rather they can be simple exercises for your students to begin to think about their characters apart from the vocal element.  Try having your students write a short monologue from the perspective of their character and performing it for feedback. The benefits here are the encouragement of imagination, asking the students to dig more deeply into their roles, and performing spoken word. (How often do we come across a wonderful young singer who has trouble with dialogue?)
None of us are dance teachers, but all of us are capable of coming up with a few simple dance combinations in order to get your students moving and using their bodies.  It doesn’t have to be complicated. Even if it’s the bunny hop and some salsa moves you picked up at a recent wedding, it will teach them something. Try asking them to do those moves in character.  Or try having a student come up with a short combination of contemporary dance moves for a class or two.  Next, try to devote a class or two to their résumés, headshots, bios, websites, the essentials of recordings and what YapTracker is all about.  Finally, set aside one class a week where everyone practices their audition – what they wear, how they walk in the room, how they say their name and announce their piece, how they perform and bring all of their skills together to win the job. 
Then, throughout this process, cast a show or a scenes program. The students should be learning their music on their own with the help of their voice teachers.  In week six of the semester, the Opera Workshop class turns to rehearsals which culminate in a late-semester performance.  The other option is to spend all of the fall semester on classes and skills and the second semester on one or even two productions.  Again, no additional hours have been added to the instructors work load, yet the students will have had at least some introductory exposure to what it takes to be a marketable opera singer.  Or, in the case of music education students taking opera workshop (how great is that!!), they will have some idea of what to do, where to begin, if asked to direct a musical in their high school teaching job, in addition to gaining the confidence which comes along with these skills and activities.  And the performances can be shorter, perhaps. Is it better to offer a shorter scenes program or just a one-act opera performed well by students who seem to be learning something, than a longer show(s) cast with young singers who are going through the motions (“doing the blocking”), but with little true understanding of why and how?  I think so.
Beg, Borrow, but Don’t Steal
Another possibility is to get some help.  Try swapping some teaching with a member of your theater or dance departments; you can give some voice coaching to their students if that instructor will teach a few acting or movement classes for you.  Look around your own department, your local community, the surrounding area—you never know who might have something to offer your students in exchange for … well, sometimes nothing, but perhaps in exchange for something you can offer them: some teaching, a performance by your students ( outreach can reap rewards), an ad in your program. Is there a professional singer in your area who might offer a master class or lead the weekly audition class? This is a great way to offer the students another set of eyes and ears and, as we all know, we can say something a thousand times, but if someone new says it, it can either be a helpful reinforcement or a revelation.  Regardless, the student is getting feedback and they are on their feet working. 
If your school has a graduate program, by all means make good use of your own graduate students and those in the theater and dance departments, if available. Teaching experience is valuable and asking a graduate student in voice, theater, or dance to design a few classes for you, or a “unit” of four or five sessions in which the students work on the same techniques or the same combination or movement ideas, is a win-win situation. Many graduate students will jump at this opportunity merely for the experience, but the same principals of exchange discussed with regard to faculty or local professionals can apply here: offer a few voice lessons, perhaps, in exchange for their emerging expertise.
No Pain No Gain
The prospect of implementing all of this can be daunting. And while the above suggestions don’t add load hours, they will surely add some degree of administrative and preparation time.  But I promise you the rewards will be worth it.  It isn’t just about the performances for the students.  In order to best prepare them for careers on the stage, the performances must be the “workshop” part of an Opera Workshop, an experience where they can practice their skills in front of an audience. That little bit of salsa, those acting exercises, that improvisation work, will combine to give the young singer-actor the confidence and the skills to not just go through the moves, but truly bring a character to life on the stage. 


We want to extend our warmest congratulations to NOA member Kirk Mechem on the publication by Rowman & Littlefield of his book, "Believe Your Ears: Life of a Lyric Compser." Mechem's book, released this summer, is an autobiographical account of a life in music

Advertise in our Convention Program

ADVERTISE! Promote your university programs, summer workshops, or other opera-related activities by placing an ad in the convention program. Your ad will be seen by students and professionals at the convention and find its way back to the many universities, colleges, and professional companies they represent. See the website for details.

CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP!  Promote your services or products through a corporate sponsorship. Reach out to the NOA and NATS memberships and receive special recognition throughout the convention. Several giving opportunities and levels of support are available. See the website for details or contact Julia Aubrey, Advertising Chair at

Call for Papers

DEADLINE October  1, 2015
The Thirty-first Annual Scholarly Papers Competition
Scholarly investigation is indispensable to the field of opera, especially as a basis for production and performance. The National Opera Association is pleased to announce its 30th Scholarly Papers Competition,
2015, for outstanding scholarly papers on operatic subjects.
Deadline for submission: October 1, 2015.
1. Winner invited  to read their paper in Indianapolis IN., January 2016 at the annual convention.
2. Winner receives the Leland Fox Scholarly Paper Stipend of $500.
3. Winning paper will be published in The Opera Journal.
Copies of papers not selected, accompanied by the committee's critiques, will be forwarded to the editor of the journal for possible consideration for publication.
Papers must be submitted electronically. Authors must also submit a completed application form available at with the paper.
Send materials and any inquiries about the competition to: Anthony P. Radford, Chairperson, NOA Research Committee at
Visit for more information.

Call for Posters

DEADLINE October  1, 2015

National Opera Association
60th Annual Convention
Indianapolis IN, January 6-10, 2016
As part of NOA’s commitment to the advancement of excellence in opera and musical theatre performance and pedagogy, the annual convention includes a poster session to encourage members, prospective members and friends of NOA to share information about their current research projects. Authors are invited to submit abstracts for poster presentations on opera­related topics. The session will highlight original research related to performance, pedagogy, composition, and production.
More information can be found at
Abstracts should be submitted electronically to Anthony Radford,

Copyright © 2015 National Opera Association, All rights reserved.

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