National Opera Association Member Newsletter
David Holley, editor
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NOA Notes Newsletter

Vol. 43, No. 4
September 2020

In This Issue

2021 National Conference
From the President
From the President-Elect
From the Vice-President for Conferences
From the Vice-President for Regions
From the Finance Committee
NEW: Director's Perspective


NEW: Submissions for "Director's Perspective"
Deadline October 1

Carolyn Bailey and Dominick Argento Vocal Competition
2021 Competition conducted ONLINE
Application Deadline October 15

Save the Date: 2021 National Conference

St. Augustine: “Exploration and Discovery”

September 2020 Update

The Board of Directors is actively monitoring the pandemic situation, travel advisories, and health protocols in this rapidly evolving situation. At this time, we are hopeful that an in-person conference may be held, one which will also include virtual events for attendees who are unable or do not wish to attend in person. We are therefore waiting until a little later this Fall to open registration, and should the conference plans change, we will announce this on the website and on our email distribution list. Regardless of the format of the conference, the event will be inspiring and will reflect the full range of creativity and energy of our organization!

NOA's 66th Annual National Conference will be held at the World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort, January 6-9, 2021.

Whether dipping your toe or diving right in, NOA’s warm waters on Florida’s subtropical coast invite you to join us for four days of performances and presentations. Come to St. Augustine to explore, experience, and celebrate significant past and present practices, methods, and inquiries on music-drama.


From the President

Benjamin Brecher

Professor of Music
The University of California Santa Barbara

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you have or are about to begin the 2020-2021 school year I want to wish you my very best.

It is far from a normal year, and I don't really even know how to talk about this without using so many of the overused terms to describe our country's current state of affairs. NOA and its members all stand with you, and we all share the frustrations, challenges, and uncertainties.  

The past few months have been very busy for the NOA leadership team. Both the Executive Committee and Board Board of Directors have had multiple meetings to ensure the foundation and future of our esteemed organization.  We are remaining positive that our 2021 Conference will be held in person, but remain flexible and will continue to monitor the situation very carefully.

I hope many of you were able to watch NOA's webinars, "Building Real Opera in a Virtual World" in May and the second followup session, "Creating Through Challenge: Opera in the Time of Uncertainty" in August, but if you missed them, you can click on the links to watch the recorded sessions.  It was great to hear from our members and colleagues, and we would love to hear feedback from you regarding these programs.
Please continue to check out the NOA website as we have new exciting items including a wonderful collection of videos entitled: "The Legacy Project Oral History." A very special thanks to Richard Poppino and Kirk Severtson for putting this together.

Best wishes, and I hope you all have a wonderful Fall Semester/Quarter.


From the President-Elect

Lisa (Dawson) Moore

Professor of Voice
Indiana Wesleyan University

As President- Elect, it is my honor to sit as ad hoc on all the committees for NOA. How wonderful it is to witness the creativity and tenacity of our hard-working committees!  While there is current uncertainty in the world, I am confident our organization will continue to rise to the occasion! Thank you to all of you for your perseverance for our lovely, and often healing, art form! Because of what we do now, Opera will continue to be a vital part of the human experience!

Hoping to gather and greet you in person soon!!!

Lisa (Dawson) Moore

From the Vice-President for Conferences

Isai Jess Muñoz

Assistant Professor of Voice and Opera
University of Delaware

Dear Colleagues,

I’ve been encouraged to virtually witness how many of you are demonstrating responsiveness, resilience, positivity and inspiration in overcoming the significant impact COVID-19 has made on our field. I am certain — as a community that is creative, bold, compassionate and enduring — we will ultimately emerge stronger, rising above this time of hardship, to come together, help each other, and create a brighter future. 

Driven by our organization’s values to care for one another and make a difference, your leaders at the National Opera Association continue to plan for the 2021 National Conference in St. Augustine, where we hope to be able to come together once more, to reflect on all the ideas, strategies, and acts of benevolence that have emerged in the face of these uncertain times. For many of us it will also be a place to find strength, solace and renewed sense of purpose. 

As we prepare for conference planning, should you have any questions or ideas, please contact me or any members of our board and we will be happy to help.

In appreciation of our community that is the National Opera Association,

Isaí Jess

From the Vice-President for Regions

Dawn Neely

Assistant Professor of Voice and Director of Opera Workshop
West Georgia University

Hello all,

During this difficult time, many of our Regional Governors are, no doubt, working hard to plan for a very different semester in music and opera.

While we are placing our regional conferences on pause, a number of Regional Governors are planning or have already had online forums to discuss how they are moving forward during these times. I hope that you will not hesitate to reach out to me or your own Regional Governors with your ideas to strengthen and grow our membership.

I look forward to hearing from you and look forward to the day we can once again meet in person. 


From the Finance Committee

Rebecca Renfro, treasurer

Director of Opera Workshop
Associate Professor of Voice
Sam Houston State University School of Music

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you all well and in the last throes of preparation for or having already started the fall semester. In talking to colleagues across the country, I am struck by the trepidation that many of us feel going into the new academic year.  However, I have been bolstered by the collective effort of many of our NOA colleagues in their creative thinking, willingness to share ideas, and overall support of one another as artists and educators.  I am positive that we will all come away from this semester having learned a great deal and with a fresh understanding in what it means to create opera in this brave new world.
My gratitude to Executive Director Kirk Severtson, who has worked through the summer to update the financial records and streamline reporting for the organization. Under his leadership NOA has maintained its financial health, and will be able to face whatever challenges lie ahead. I look forward to the coming months as NOA continues to make a dynamic impact on our industry.
Onward and upward –


Director's Perspective

Director’s Perspective, a new feature online and in NOA Notes, is being launched this Fall. The membership of the National Opera Association includes some of the most talented, experienced and creative minds in the field of opera directing, in and beyond academia. In these fast-evolving and challenging times, we welcome articles addressing the following; the creation of successful opera workshops and opera productions; implementation of greater inclusivity, diversity, equity and access (IDEA) for our students and colleagues; and historical perspectives on opera production from the director’s viewpoint.


Any submissions may be sent to Director's Perspective Editor, Kathleen Roland-Silverstein, at Our first due date is October 1st, 2020, with submissions accepted on a rolling basis thereafter. All submissions must be no longer than 1500 words in length, 12 point font, Times New Roman. Submissions accepted for publication in online and in NOA Notes will be notified by the Editor of Director's Perspective.

This is the inaugural posting of Director's Perspective

David Ronis is the Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera at the Mead Witter School of Music, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Non-traditional Treatments of Two Shakespearian Operas:
A Director's Perspective

Producing a non-traditional staging of a standard repertory opera can be a risky affair. While some updated or transposed productions have been quite well-received, others have left audiences confused and angry, and exposed directors to accusations of self-indulgence and bad Regietheater. Although I have no personal preference for non-traditional productions over traditional ones, I have found that, despite any perceived risk, the former can be stimulating, enlightening projects to take on and well worth the effort. For me, reimagining an opera tends to be more complicated and more challenging than mounting a traditional production. It demands a thorough examination of all the narrative elements of the piece to make sure that each plot point makes sense in the new setting. Additionally, any textual references in the libretto that either become anachronistic or can no longer be taken literally must be addressed. Ultimately, the success of a “concept production” hinges on the effective fulfillment of the same dramaturgical goals as for any theatrical piece: coherent and emotionally resonant storytelling, plus clear articulation of the work’s themes. Having worked on multiple non-traditional productions, I offer the following, detailing the realization of two such projects at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.



National Opera Association

2021 Conference, St. Augustine, FL

January 6-9, 2021


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NOA members are the Foundation Builders
for the future of opera.
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