Millikin Opera Theatre prepares students for professional success through practical experience both onstage and in the classroom. Performance Learning is emphasized in every aspect of the program.
The Opera Workshop course is structured for a stepwise progression in acquiring both acting and singing skills for the stage. Freshmen learn basic acting techniques through monologue preparation, song study and performance; sophomores continue the progression into recitative and aria presentations; juniors and seniors work extensively on both intimate (duets, trios, etc.) and large ensemble scenes. Each group presents a recital performance of their work every semester, with the entire company participating in a final scenes program in the spring. Repertoire for these programs is selected in consultation with, and the consent of, each student’s voice teacher. Early in each semester Opera Workshop faculty present master classes on various topics such as diction; role and score preparation; specialized acting and movement styles for opera singers; and other areas in which they have expertise.
Most recently, Opera Workshop has fostered the curiosity and love for opera and lyric theatre in our Music Education (Vocal Emphasis) students who, under the mentorship and guidance of our faculty, train as apprentice coaches and conductors. These future educators experience a hands-on approach to research, musical preparation, vocal coaching and conducting. This class provides a safe and experimental Performance Learning environment where the students acquire helpful tools that will serve them beyond Millikin University.
In addition to the stepwise progression in Opera Workshop, all students audition for placement in at least two staged productions each year. A full opera is prepared and staged in the late fall, and then presented early in the spring semester in Albert Taylor Theatre, with orchestra. Later in the spring semester a second production is presented in Kaeuper Hall. The second show (a chamber work, occasionally a pastiche opera) is selected, directed and produced by students in Opera Workshop under the supervision of Opera Workshop faculty. Repertoire for these operas is chosen appropriate to the age and experience level of the undergraduate student, with an eye to building a resume for entry into graduate level study or opera apprenticeships. Experience in the Opera Theatre productions will give the student an understanding of what it means to work as a professional with regards to preparation, discipline, artistry and collaboration.
In an effort to connect our students with the performing arts world, the Department of Vocal Studies invites guest artists to our campus as regularly as possible. They offer voice and/or collaborative voice and piano master classes to our students who receive invaluable feedback from the artists themselves. Recent guests include Karen Fergurson, Lorraine Yaros, Shawn Roy, Janice Chandler-Eteme, Leon Williams, Nathan Gunn, Christine Brewer and School of Music alumnus Alan Held.