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NOA Notes Newsletter
Vol. 37, No. 3
August/September 2014

In This Issue

We hope you enjoy the new format of the newsletter!

From the President
From the President Elect
From the Vice-President of Conventions
From the Vice President for Regions
From the Editor

Stephanie Blythe, the new Face of NOA
The Catbird Seat

From the Finance Committee
Chamber Opera Competition Finalists
NEW THIS YEAR! Musical Theater Scenes for Opera Scenes Competition

2015 Convention Guest Artists

Warren Jones
Samuel Ramey
Stephanie Blythe
Willie Anthony Waters

Upcoming Deadlines and Events

2015 Greensboro Convention
Registration now open:
  • Early registration ends Sep 30
  • Regular registration ends Nov 29
  • Late registration starts Nov 30

Dissertation Competition: Oct 1

Call for Posters: Oct 1

Vocal Competition: Oct 15

Stage Director Internship: Oct 15

Collegiate Opera Scenes: Oct 18

David HolleyFrom the President

David Holley

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

Nothin’ could be finer than to be in Carolina…!
Registration is now open for our 60th Annual Convention here in Greensboro, North Carolina, January 8-11, 2015. Your Convention Committee has put together an exciting event 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 a little later in this issue of NOA Notes. Meanwhile, I thought I’d give you my “Top 10 Reasons to Come to the 60th Annual Convention in Greensboro:”
10. Location. Location. Location.  4-5 hour drive from Atlanta and D.C.  Convenient airport.  Free shuttle from airport.
9.  NOA Poster Sessions
8.  NOA’s competitions: the Carolyn Bailey and Dominick Argento National Vocal Competition, the Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition and the Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition.
7.  Willie Anthony Waters Master Class: From the Conductor’s Point of View 
6.  Celebrate our Lifetime Achievement Honoree, Samuel Ramey, and our Legacy Award Winners, Louise Toppin and Olive Moorefield -Mach, as we recognize them at our Legacy GALA Banquet on Saturday night.
5. Our large and varied convention sessions, ranging from exploration of literature (operas/scenes/ arias), to training singing-actors, to creating new works) – sure to give you new ideas and reinvigorate your own teaching.
4.  Warren Jones, our keynote speaker at the opening luncheon on Thursday, judge for the Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition, and master class presenter on Saturday.
3.  Hear René Barbera sing “Ah! mes amis” in Greensboro Opera’s La Fille du Régiment, the featured performance on Friday night!  This is the aria with which he won Placido Domingo’s Operalia in 2011 ( Your ticket is included in your convention registration!
2.  Stephanie Blythe, our 2014 Face of NOA, at the convention every day, presenting a master class on Thursday and judging the vocal competition on Saturday.
1.  Networking: see colleagues and friends you haven’t seen for 20 years (it happens every convention!), and make new contacts.  Spend time with others who understand the challenges and rewards that you face and enjoy in your position.


From the President Elect

Reg Pittman

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

Dear NOA Colleagues,
Hello from Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’ve been enjoying the operas at the Santa Fe Opera and hope to include an article in a future newsletter about the opera season. So far, I’ve attended Don Pasquale, Fidelio and the world premiere performance of Dr. Dun Yat-Sen, composed by Huang Ruo.

I hope you’re making your plans to attend the convention in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Soon you will be receiving an e-flyer announcing the convention which you may forward to your music colleagues and other opera lovers interested in attending the convention, and becoming a NOA member.

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend two performances at the Lyric Opera of Chicago during my spring break. On March 19th, soprano Renée Fleming, soprano and teor Jonas Kaufmann, performed arias and duets with the Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Ms. Fleming, one of the most beloved and celebrated sopranos of our time, has been serving as creative consultant with the Lyric Opera of Chicago since 2010. Jonas Kaufmann has been one of the most well known tenors since his successful debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 2006.
The concert began with duet, “Il se fait tard…Laisse-moi contempler ton visage” from Faust by Charles Gounod. The program continued with “Ombra di nube” by Licinio Refice beautifully sung by Renée, and  “La vita è inferno all’infelice… O tu che in seno agli angeli’ from La forza del destino by Verdi, sung by Mr. Kaufmann. The first half concluded with duet, “Gia nella notte densa” from Otello.
The second half of the concert began with Mr. Kaufmann performing “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” from Carmen ending with a stunning high B flat sung pianissimo. Also, he performed “Pourquoi me réveiller” from Werther by Massenet. In addition, Ms. Fleming sang Massenet’s “Allons! Il le faut!... Adieu, notre petite table” from Manon.

A beautiful arrangement of “Danny Boy” by Antonio DeFeo was beautifully sung by Renee. The program ended with duet, “Toi! Vous!” from Manon. Two encores were offered: duets from The Merry Widow and Die Tote Stadt.
On March 20th, the Lyric performed La Clemenza di Tito by W.A. Mozart. The opera was beautifully sung by Amanda Majeski as Vitellia, Joyce DiDonato as Sesto, Cecelia Hall as Annio, David Greeves as Lentulo, Christian Van Horn as Publio, Matthew Polenzani as Tito and Emily Birsan as Servilia. This was my first opportunity to see a live production of this opera.

From the Vice-President for Conventions

Ruth Dobson

Plans are being finalized for the upcoming 2015 NOA Convention, which will be held in Greensboro, North Carolina, on January 8-11. The convention will be held at the Sheraton Greensboro Hotel, located right inside the beautiful Koury Convention Center. Our convention theme is Crossroads and Challenges: Compass Points for Creation.

We have many exciting and varied sessions planned. As NOA President David Holley announces in his column, Stephanie Blythe, Warren Jones, Willie Anthony Waters, Darren Keith Woods and many other opera luminaries will be presenting sessions and master classes. Other highlights of the convention will be Greensboro Opera's presentation of Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment, featuring international star René Barbera , the Chamber Opera Composition Competition finals, and the seventh annual Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition.

The full convention schedule of sessions will be available on the NOA website soon, so be sure to check for registration details. Early registration will be available at a reduced rate. The price of rooms at the Sheraton is a very reasonable $119 per night.

Greensboro is a very gracious and welcoming southern city. We know you will want to join us January 8-11 in the city known as the Crossroads of the South.

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!

As the college football season approaches, I'm ever more mindful that my job as Vice President of Regions is similar to that of a head cheerleader.  Not that I've ever actually been a cheerleader in a sporting arena - I'm too small to toss the girls up in the air - but I sure know how to be one for our beloved NOA. Won't you be one with me? Help me lead the cheer for awareness, participation, and membership! Our quest to get a network of State Governors in place to assist the Regional Governors to spread the word and sustain energy and creativity year-round is moving forward, but our work isn't done.  Due to career moves and geographical transitions, we have openings for both state and regional governors. And, of course, we have more members in some states and regions than others. In my next column, I hope to publish what each region is up to – e-mail campaigns, newsletters, lunches, phone call campaigns, social gatherings to introduce potential members to the benefits of joining NOA.  You’ll enjoy hearing about the commitment at the regional level. If you're interested in helping in your state or region, please let me hear from you. If you have an idea of how to create excitement, not just about NOA, but about opera activities in your area, give me a call or send me an email. This year's convention in Greensboro is shaping up to be a dazzling, star-studded event.  It should be a very easy sell ... bring a friend, or a new tenure-track colleague, to the convention, and if they don't love what they experience, if they're not newly excited by our craft, if they're not eager to take what they've learned and share it with their students back home, if they simply cannot wait to join our organization, then send them to me.  I'll have the pom-poms waiting.

All the best,
Paul    646-345-5584

From the Editor

Kathleen Roland-Silverstein

Assistant Professor
Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York

My school year has begun, and, like many of you, I am already treading water, trying to keep up with the demands, both positive and negative, of all that it means to teach at a school of music.  But what keeps me looking forward and positive is the knowledge that, in just a few months, I will be joining my colleagues and friends for a much needed "shot in the arm." I refer, of course, to the January 2015 National Opera Association Convention, this year in Greensboro, North Carolina.

I know I will have amazing opportunities to hear beautiful singing, learn from some of the best in the business, and connect with people who always leave me feeling as if there are no barriers to what I can accomplish. I hope you'll join me and the other educators, singers and students of NOA next January 8-11!

Onward and upward,

Stephanie Blythe


Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe is considered to be one of the most highly respected and critically acclaimed artists of her generation. Her keynote address at the 2014 NOA conference in NYC greatly inspired attendees, and she has graciously committed to be the Face of NOA for 2014-2016.

Ms. Blythe has sung in many of the renowned opera houses in the US and Europe, including the Metroplitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, San Diego Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and the Opera National de Paris.  Many of her roles include the title roles in Carmen, Samson et Dalila, Orfeo ed Euridice, La Grande Duchesse, Tancredi, Mignon and Guilio Cesare; Principessa and Zita in Il trittico, Fricka in Das Rheingold and Die Walkure, Waltraute in Götterdammerung, Azucena in Il trovatore, Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera, Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress, Jezibaba in Rusalka, Jocasta in Oedipus Rex, Mere Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites, Mistress Quickly in Falstaff, and Ino/Juno in Semele.  She recently played the role of Gertrude Stein in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Twenty-Seven at the Opera Theater of Saint Louis.  Ms. Blythe has also appeared with many of the world’s finest orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Orchestra of New York, Minnesota Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Ensemble Orchestra de Paris, the Concertgerbouw and Les Violons du Roy.
A champion of American song, Ms. Blythe has premiered song cycles composed for her by Alan Louis Smith and the late James Legg.  Her acclaimed show with pianist Craig Terry, We’ll Meet Again: The Songs of Kate Smith was seen on PBS and continues to be a success in live venues around the country.  She is the Artistic Director of the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar, a program for emerging singers and collaborative pianists that focuses solely on American art song by living composers, held every May on the campus of her alma mater, SUNY Potsdam.  She is also a faculty member at the Tanglewood Music Center.
Some of her many upcoming engagements this year include a return to the Metropolitan Opera in The Rake’s Progress, to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for Il trovatore, and to Carnegie Hall for a recital in Stern Auditorium.  She is thrilled to be involved with NOA, and looks forward to attending the 2015 conference where she will conduct a master class and serve on the judges panel for the vocal competition.

The Catbird Seat

Elizabeth Vrenios

Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Vrenios
"Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous." - Bill Moyers
I saw an amazing performance of a double bill at the Santa Fe Opera this summer, The Impresario and Le Rossignol.  I asked myself – why do I want to spend all that money to see yet another Impresario? And yet, I did.  What a surprise and delight that evening was.  A totally new libretto had been created for the Impresario to create a justification for producing Le Rossignol as a second act.  Characters were added, words re-written to other arias, neglected Mozart concert arias added, dancers moved throughout the work providing visual variety and excitement. and a hilarious libretto tied all the mayhem together.  Director Michael Gieleta and Charles MacKay worked on the totally new concept, which was reminiscent of how Diaghilev and Stravinsky managed to set the definitions of music, dance, stage design and folk art in their time. 

I could spend pages talking about the innovative use of the background sets which incorporated Picasso, or the dancers in Le Rossignol who were dressed to look like Stravinsky, or the use of the piano in the first opera transformed to look like a boat in the second.  What impressed me was the “out of the box” innovative thinking that was evident in the entire production.

The libretto for The Impresario came to Mozart from the writer Gottlieb Stephanie, whose comic subject is what we now know as a backstage farce.  Mozart’s commission called for just an overture, two arias and two ensembles – about 20 or 25 minutes worth of music.  However, the interpolation of scenes from then-familiar playwrights lengthened the staged proceedings by hours, filling them with contemporary in-jokes.

Thirty years ago the eminent musicologist and critic Charles Osborne, in a comprehensive study of Mozart operas, advised against interpolating additional materials into the opera.  Since then, the experience of real-like opera impresarios has pushed the pendulum the other way, and avoided adding material to the original music. What the production team at Santa Fe thought – to preserve the spirit of the original- started with incorporating new dialogue an additional music by Mozart to replace the lost material.  Opera dramaturg Cori Ellison says, ”Most people don’t realize that what we perform is just a fragment of the original that Mozart and his librettist crated as an in-joke for the theatergoing crowd.  The Impresario is as loose a piece as Mozart ever wrote.  It makes no sense to do as it was originally done.”  What has resulted is an imaginative double bill, with its own integrity. 
However, my purpose in writing about this is not only to speak about this exciting new production of an unusual pairing, and the imaginative rewriting of a Mozart classic, but to encourage us all to take a long look at possibilities of finding unusual pairings of one acts in our own productions.  By now most of you have figured out that one acts are a great way to cast more students than the traditional three act opera. Sometimes, these are hard to find, and I see program after program include yet another Suor Angelica or Gianni Schicchi.   
I might suggest looking at the list of operas using female voices that exists in our own archives.  For example, did you know that the one act opera, The Beautiful Brdegroom by Dan Shore, which was a winner of our chamber opera competition several years ago, is a well written work using all female voices? I encourage you to look into NOA's one act archives.  Each year that I have had the privilege to judge the 40 some odd operas that crossed my desk in NOA’s Chamber Opera Competition, I am impressed at how much excellent material is out there, and yet not performed.  We now have a large collection of works that have won our competition, and many which have not won, but are marvelous works.  What a great service we could do our constituency if we made these works public and available to our members to produce.  This is perhaps a project that someone would like to tackle in collaboration with Robert Hansen, who is in charge of the archive. 

As we begin our new school year, many of us will be looking for repertoire possibilities for our students.  The university atmosphere is ideal for discovering and producing new works by composers who are seeking a producing organization.  I encourage you to look into our archives for new and interesting possibilities. I look forward to hearing the three finalists at the convention in Greensboro in January.  I wish them good fortune in producing their wonderful works.

In closing, I want to leave you with these words from Steve Jobs: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
With gratitude,

From the Finance Committee

At our mid-year meeting, it was decided that we would no longer call our annual campaign a Capital Campaign, but an Annual Campaign. NOA’s goal is to raise $30,000 over the next three year period.  We have targeted two specific new projects that the organization has decided are worthy.  One project already instituted is the Stage Director Summer Internship Program. The other is the new Young People’s Opera Composition Competition.

I wish to thank all of you who have responded to NOA’s 2014 Annual Campaign. Since we began our Annual Campaign in 2010, we have managed to raise $30,014.   We hope to be able to raise $10,000 in 2014, in order to reach a third of our goal for the two outstanding programs listed above.  With only four months left in 2014, please consider sending a contribution to help support NOA!

Carol Ann Modesitt
Treasurer and Chair
Annual Campaign

Director ($1,000 to $4,999)
Elizabeth Vrenios

Diva/Divo ($500 to $999)
Bruce Gardner
Carol Ann Modesitt, in memory of Betty Jeanne Chipman
Carol Notestine, in honor of Julia Aubrey
Brian J. Staufenbiel

Répétiteur ($100 to $249)
Martina Arroyo
Susan Boardman, in memory of Carrie Haskell
Isabelle Cazeaux
Robert Chauls
Andrew Frierson
Donald George
Paul Houghtaling
Barbara Hill Moore
Gordon Ostrowsky
William B. Ray
Kirk Severtson
Clifford Ware

Comprimario ($25 to $99)
Margaret Garrett, in honor of Dr. Mozelle Sherman
Juliana Hoch, in memory of Dr. Carl Gerbrandt
David Ronis
Kurt Zeller

Three Year Pledges: 2014-2016
Bruce Gardner
Donald George
Carol Notestine
Juliana Hoch
Margaret Garrett in memory of Dr. Mozelle Sherman
Robert Chauls
William B. Ray, in memory of Sylvia Odden Lee

Chamber Opera Competition Finalists

The finalists of the Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition were chosen last month.  Portions of the three operas will be presented for judging at the national convention in Greensboro.  The finalists are:

  • The Dawn Makers by Allen Shearer, composer, Claudia Stevens, librettist
  • The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret by Leanna Kirchoff, composer and librettist
  • The Lady of Shalott by Christopher Weiss, composer, S. O’Quinn Magee, librettist. 

The works will be produced by the UNCG Opera Theatre.  The winning opera will be presented in its entirety at our national convention in 2016. Congratulations go to the hard working committee for their expertise and efficiency:  Darryl Cooper, Linda Lister, Reginald Pittman, Copeland Woodruff and Elizabeth Vrenios. 

NOA is one of the only organizations in the country to present such a competition. We are proud to be able to encourage composers to write one act chamber works that can be presented and performed by our members. 


Musical Theater Scenes

The Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition Committee is excited to announce the addition of a Musical Theatre Scenes category to the 2015 competition in Greensboro. Paul Houghtaling, committee chair, believes this inclusion is important and forward-looking, as more and more opera companies are including musical theatre repertoire in their seasons. The emphasis will be on healthy singing, and will showcase the versatility of today’s young opera singers. Members are encouraged to spread the word about the competition, which is a highlight of the convention and a terrific experience for students and members alike, and to share the COSC with their colleagues in musical theater departments as well.  Please see the NOA website for guidelines and repertoire requirements for all categories, or feel free to contact Paul with questions at

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