Music 457

MUSC 457

Catalog Entry

MUSC457. Opera Workshop
Three hours rehearsal (1).

Prerequisite: Audition

Study and preparation of vocal roles and ensembles to produce an opera and/or opera excerpts. Presents programs on and off campus throughout the year with two evenings of a fully-staged performance in the spring. A maximum of two credits may be used to meet the large ensemble requirement for music majors. May be taken again for credit.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Through lecture, rehearsal, improvisational techniques, use of subtexts, body movement/awareness/alignment and other singer-actor performance techniques, this course is designed to cover all aspects of opera as theater. The course includes working with the similarities and differences of stage, opera and musical theater styles, concentrating on musicianship, learning basic stage deportment/etiquette and musical/historical acting styles and acting techniques including character development and analysis, use of subtext, and costume requirements. Various technical aspects of opera theater from directing an opera and developing a viable stage plan to learning about stage management will also be covered. Refining each individual's audition techniques through use of the video camera, the "magic mirror," and filming the students in class facilitates the learning process of seeing how others perceive the singer from the audience.

The course also includes in-depth study of at least one complete opera from the standard repertoire. This study includes analyzing recordings of historical performances and video tapes of live performances. Stressing ensemble work, we may also include a performance of scenes from that particular opera in our Opera Scenes Program. There are field trips to attend a minimum of two complete opera productions during the year.

As well as teaching performance techniques, musicianship, musical style and history, scene study includes working specifically to have each character answer the following questions:

  • Where and when does scene take place?
  • What happened immediately before the first line?
  • What is your character's purpose, motivation and action in the scene?
  • What is your character's attitude towards others in this particular scene. Does it differ from your character's attitude in the rest of the opera?
  • What is your character actually thinking and feeling (use of subtext) -- is it different from what your character is expressing in the scene?


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Through participation in performance and production of scenes, arias, duets, trios and other ensembles incorporating staging, sets and costumes students shall improve performance skills. Through the use of video camera and playback, students will be actively involved in critiquing their own performances as well as others. Attention will be given to linguistic accuracy, historically correct acting styles, musical styles, period styles and the unique demands of period dress. Individual attention will be given through coaching and instruction in learning solo as well as ensemble techniques. Emphasis is placed upon ensemble performance and stage collaboration. There will be field trips throughout the year for live opera viewing.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

This course emphasizes participation in performance and production of scenes, arias, duets, trios and other ensembles incorporating staging, sets and costumes. As a result of acquiring improved performance skills, the student will not only be able to present him/herself better in auditions out in the world, but will also be able to teach basic stage deportment skills to students in the performing arts. The student will be familiar with the fundamentals of directing an opera, stage management and other stage survival skills. A major purpose of this class is to free the student from inhibitive behavior that limits his performance -- whether in job interview, audition, the classroom or the board room. Performance at a more advanced level of musical and technical ability is expected of students registered for graduate credit.


Assessment Measures

Students will be asked to perform frequently in class throughout the year to demonstrate the incorporation of their new skills and performance techniques. In addition to performing in the Opera Scenes Program, testing will include written critiques of their own work as well as papers on outside opera performances and recitals. Use of videotaping will document the progress of student presentations. Other written work will include testing on understanding how to be both a discerning performer and a discerning audience member.


Other Course Information

Each student will perform in the Opera Scenes Program and other public appearances as deemed appropriate.


Approval and Subsequent Reviews

May 2006 Reviewed E. Fellin, Chairman