Associate Professor of Voice
Director of Opera Theatre Director
The Druid City Opera Workshop
University of Alabama School of Music
Dear NOA Colleagues,
Hi everyone! As we slowly watch the New Orleans credits roll in our rear view mirrors, we can now begin to see the majestic mountains and cathedrals of Salt Lake City. And there is so much to experience even before our next annual conference. There are a few regional events in the planning stages for the fall ... watch for news from Dawn Neely, our VP of regions, about that.
But first, a word on our word. Yes, you read that right. Since the organization's inception, NOA's annual gathering was called a Convention. However, with our increasing visibility, it has become clear that the better term for our annual national meeting is "Conference" as it more accurately describes what we do. Many members expressed that they would find it easier to obtain funding to attend a conference (an exchange of scholarly ideas) than a convention (an exhibition of wares, by first definition). I think the change of terms is a good step forward, and more accurately reflects NOA, an exciting exchange of ideas on all things opera--pedagogy, performance, scholarship, history, repertoire, composition, technology, and more.
To that end, we are so excited to announce our call for session proposals for the 2019 Salt Lake City Conference. Look at Lisa's column below, and the link to the proposal form. You'll note that there is no theme this year, just a wonderfully inspiring title. Pioneering the Future of Opera reflects our Salt Lake City destination, as well as our forward-looking vision and welcoming spirit. Session proposals on all aspects of opera are welcome.
I also invite you to check out the deadlines for the JoElyn Wakefield Wright Stage Director Fellowship and the Chamber Opera Composition Competition. And those are just a few of the NOA initiatives of which I'm extremely proud. Watch for this space, future NOA emails, and our NOA website for updates on our work.
We're a remarkable organization, thanks to you!
From the President-Elect
Professor of Music
The University of California Santa Barbara
I hope this finds you all well and rested after your spring break. The Board has been working behind the scenes to keep our organization strong and relevant outside of our yearly convention preparations.
A reminder to everyone of the April 15 application deadline for the JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Opera Stage Director Fellowship. This is a great opportunity for one of your students!
Also, I encourage any of you who want to get more involved in NOA to reach out to your local Governor. NOA is only as strong as each of us and our commitment to opera education and performance.
It was great to see so many of you in NOLA, and I look forward to another grand time next January in Salt Lake City!
From the Vice-President for Conventions
Professor of Voice
Indiana Wesleyan University
It seems impossible that more than two months have passed since our fabulous time together in New Orleans! I want to give a big shout out to Ben Brecher and Bob Hansen who provided excellent leadership for the convention. Also, to local hosts Mark Clark, Loraine Sims and Rachel Harris - thanks for the warm hospitality!
Now we turn our eyes toward the west! It’s not too early to begin making plans to attend the 64th Conference in Salt Lake City January 9-12, 2019. Carol Ann Modesitt is serving as our local host for what it sure to be an inspiring and informative gathering! There are many ways in which you might participate so, check out the website: noa.org for information on proposal submissions, competitions, etc. I can’t wait to see you there!
See you in Salt Lake!!
From the Vice-President for Regions
Assistant Professor of Voice and Director of Opera Workshop
West Georgia University
I have had a number of conversations with regional and state governors about workshops and one-day conferences as well as recruiting new members. Carol Ann Modesitt recently sent out a spring newsletter for the Cal-Western Region with all kinds of wonderful information for next year's National Convention. This is a great way to promote regional events as well. I am hopeful that we will have a number of regional events this coming fall, and I will share those as soon as possible. Please do not hesitate to keep me in the loop as you plan and participate in your regional NOA groups.
In case you need anything from your Regional Governor, we have included the list below. You can find their email addresses (as well as those for all Officers and Board Members) by CLICKING HERE.
Chair, Finance Committee and 2018 Annual Campaign
Cal-Western regional Governor Music Department
Southern Utah University
From the Finance Committee:
Spring is just around the corner. Spring is a time of renewal. I love seeing the appearance of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths at this time of year because it is all about beginnings.
Every year we begin a new Annual Campaign. It’s been three months since our conference in New Orleans and by this time if you are a member of our organization you have received either a letter or e-mail from me announcing our 2018 Annual Campaign. I just want to remind all of our members of the need for contributions to the Annual Campaign. Your tax deductible contributions allow us to continue our commitment to opera training in its various forms. Whether you produce, sing, direct, teach, coach, conduct, accompany, design, or compose, NOA offers opportunities for you because of the money invested in our organization by our members. Dues alone cannot help us fulfill our mission and goals. Tax forms are due in a few weeks and hopefully you will be able to claim a deduction from your contribution to NOA. If you didn’t contribute to last year’s campaign, I hope you will consider contributing this year. If you did contribute last year, the officers and board offer our thanks for your contribution.
I hope that you all will have a beautiful spring and I look forward to seeing you in January in Salt Lake City.
Carol Ann email@example.com
JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellowship
Deadline: April 15
Are you relatively new to the directing biz? Do you have a student who has an interest in directing?
Then the JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellowship is for you! Generously endowed by former NOA President JoElyn Wakefield-Wright, this fellowship provides funds to young and aspiring directors as they learn and grow in the craft of directing opera.
The criteria are simple- an application, a resumé and a letter of recommendation is all it takes! Don’t yet have a project that would qualify? No problem! We will fast track an application to one of the many NOA member-run director training programs.
Funds can be used however the Fellow chooses- travel, housing, application fees, tuition. We are so proud to say that every one of our past Fellows currently hold either a full-time position in a university, or is a successful professional opera director.
Join their ranks, get the training, and receive the funds you need as a
JoElyn Wakefield-Wright Stage Director Fellow!
The Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition encourages the composition and performance of short operas especially useful for opera workshops and other training venues. The competition accepts all applicants regardless of age or nationality.
All submissions should be unpublished works; previous performance of the work (unless by a major opera company) does not disqualify it from consideration. Submissions should be 60 minutes or less in duration, sung in English, and involve no more than 20 players in the orchestration.
Entries are all electronic and the deadline is May 1, 2018.
For more information, please visit the competition page:
Thank you to all who submitted 2018 New Orleans Convention session reviews. They will be used throughout the year in this and subsequent issues of NOA Notes.
Sinatra, Puccini and This Thing of Ours
Although Mr. Cipullo was not able to attend his session due to the weather related issues, Mr. Ching
gave a wonderful session on successful techniques for working with opera composers or
aspiring opera composers.
Each composer included a top ten list of insights. They both agreed that the aria is the most important vehicle for opera composition with ensembles being a close second. They also stressed the importance of building strong characters to aide one’s story telling. Mr. Cipullo suggested that a composer is usually better off writing his or her own libretto, and Mr. Ching agreed. Mr. Ching stressed the importance of practicality. Singers need to be able to memorize pieces, and an opera is only successful if it is done more than two times. It is interesting to note that Mr. Ching stated that he now planned to compose more operas for women, with either the story focusing on women or providing more roles for women.
Finally, Mr. Ching and Mr. Cipullo stressed that it is in the best interest of the composer to take the needs of the opera producer into consideration when composing. However, the opera producer must also take responsibility in communicating his or her needs and resources to the composer to produce a successful show. Mr. Ching finished his session by playing and singing one of the arias from his opera, Speed Dating Tonight!
Mantra Yoga for Singer:
Restoring Positivity through Affirmations and Asanas
Dr. Lister offered an enlightening and soothing session, perfect for a late Friday afternoon. She encouraged the audience to determine their own mantra, such as “I can” or “I will be strong.” From there, she lead the group through poses and chants, incorporating the mantras into the asana practice of yoga, all geared toward relieving stress, maintaining a positive outlook, and building confidence as performing artists. Dr. Lister is the author of Yoga for Singers: Freeing your Voice and Spirit through Yoga (2011) and co-author of Red Rock Mantras (2016); her expertise and passion for this art form and how impactful it can be to the art of singing made her session warmly practical and informative.
The Challenges of Operatic Coaching: A Collaborative Pianists’ Panel
J. Bradley Baker, Tabor College
Kevin Chance, University of Alabama
Amanda Johnston, University of Mississippi
This panel was the brainchild of Louise Lofquist who, unfortunately, was unable to attend the convention. The idea was to discuss the challenges faced by collaborative pianists in an effort to foster greater understanding and better working relationships between pianists and singers, voice teachers, and opera directors. After the panel members introduced themselves and described their individual paths to becoming vocal coaches, they articulated various challenges that coaches encounter daily, including dealing with the sheer amount of vocal repertoire, the necessity of playing some of it in different keys, navigating awkward orchestral reductions, and the need to quickly shift to and from different styles. They then discussed the numerous skills that collaborative pianists need to master including knowledge of languages and score reading; important pianistic considerations such as the use of pedal and position of the piano lid; and spoke about their own health issues, given the amount they usually play and the circumstances under which they typically work.
Amanda Johnston characterized the problems that arise as generally ones of coordination and balance. She stressed that most of these can be resolved by approaching the situation via specific vocabulary. For example, in an instance in which a student pianist is overbalancing a singer, the faculty member might suggest that the pianist voice the accompaniment in a particular way. Or in the case of an orchestral reduction bogging a pianist down, the pianist might be encouraged to play less of what’s on the page.
The panel emphasized the need for voice teachers and opera directors to be clear regarding what they wanted a collaborative pianist to do – whether it be to function fully as a vocal coach, working on style, language and phrasing; or to be more of a repetiteur, helping singers learn repertoire, but not getting involved with language. They noted the importance of requiring student collaborative pianists to learn song and operatic texts as thoroughly as do singers.
All in all, this was a very informative and useful session.
Norman Treigle: A Legacy of Change on the Opera Stage
Mark Clark, University of Louisiana, Monroe
Dr. Mark Clark presented a session to honor the legacy of one of the greatest singing actors of all time. Norman Treigle was born and began his outstanding career in New Orleans. Dr. Clark’s presentation celebrated opera’s past, reflecting Treigle’s performances in the oldest opera house in America in New Orleans and throughout the world. Dr. Clark provided pictures with audio interview pieces made by Clark with director Tito Capobianco, protégée Michael Devlin, and coach and conductor David Effron, and others. Treigle’s private materials are housed at the Loyola Music Library.
The Historic New Orleans Revival of “The Burlesque Opera Tabasco” from 1894
Conductor, Paul Mauffray, presented the story and history of “The Burlesque Opera Tabasco” by George W. Chadwick. There will be a revival performance in New Orleans in January, 2018. Mauffray described the difficulties of re-creating the score from original sources after many revisions of the first tours of the show. The music had been locked away by the composer because of non-payment by the tour producers. An excellent performance of excerpts was sung by cast members and choristers. The music had a distinct Gilbert and Sullivan flavor as apparently both Chadwick and Sullivan had studied composition with the same teacher. Many updated lyrics have been added to the score to make it more appealing
for a modern audience.
Opera Translation and Audience Engagement
Lily Kass, translator/opera coach/singer
Anna Hersey, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Anna Hersey was unable to make it to New Orleans, however, Lily Kass forged on with an informative look at opera translation and supertitles.
After beginning with a brief historical overview, this session focused on how translation and supertitles affect the accessibility, understanding, and enhancement of the audience’s experience in the theater. Examples of different translations and supertitles were given for Lepporello’s “Catalogue” aria and Monostatos’s aria from The Magic Flute, showing far different audience understanding of the text and far different social context based on the translations/supertitles.
The first session of the 2018 NOA Convention was led by Nicholas Muni, Buck Ross and Dr. Daniel Hunter-Holly who presented us with an in-depth guide for using projected imagery in opera. This panel of experts not only gave excellent information regarding aesthetic and technical aspects, but also administrative and financial considerations for
incorporating this cutting-edge technique. Thanks to these colleagues who gave practical advice and showed us inspiring examples of how to enhance our visual story-telling by using projected images.
Staging Reborn: Using the ‘Stagewrite’ app to stage an opera Jon Truitt, Ball State University
Jon Truitt is Director of Opera at Ball State University, a freelance director and baritone active across the US. He used his Thursday session; “Staging Reborn: Using the ‘Stagewrite’ app to stage an opera” to give a comprehensive look at this software’s abilities and ease of use for the first-timer. Having used the relatively new application many times he was able to show how it can streamline staging in both the planning phase and its usefulness in rehearsals. During the demonstration, he was able to very quickly pull up complete stagings of past productions in seconds as well create a new staging for his audience in moments. A considerable time saving over working on paper. Many thanks to Jon Truitt for sharing has extensive experience with this new tool to help his fellow directors at NOA.
Submitted by Al Chaney
From the NOA Strategic Plan Committee and Board:
NOA's NEW Vision Statement:
NOA members are the Foundation Builders for the future of opera.