Alumni Bring Opera to MSU Campus

Alumni Bring Opera to MSU Campus

For the third year, accomplished opera professionals will come to Wichita Falls and Midwestern State University to lead a workshop designed to help participants hone their performance skills. The Opera Breve Vocal Intensive (OBVI) workshop is a three-week program of master classes, stage instruction, acting, vocal lessons, foreign language, diction, and coaching in both opera and musical theater held on MSU's campus.

Darla Diltz, MSU alumna and OBVI Executive Director, said that the idea for a workshop grew out of the Opera Breve nonprofit company based in New York City and founded by another MSU alumna, Lenora Eve. Through Opera Breve, Eve, Diltz, and others found a way to make connections and to build a support system for other North Texans in the highly competitive theater scene in New York City as they build their performance resume.

Although Eve and Diltz could host their workshop in other cities, they chose their hometown of Wichita Falls to keep a local connection for students, and to bring more opera to North Texas. "Texoma is ripe with amazing talent," Eve said. "This is an opportunity for these young singers and actors to work with professional instructors, many of whom live and work in the New York area. By attending our performances, it gives support for the arts in general and the necessary skill of performing in front of a live audience."

The faculty for this year's Opera Breve includes: Jad Bernardo, Diltz, Eve, Eugenie Grunewald, Dr. Donald Maxwell, Brian Osborne, Ben Sheaffer, and Benjamin Spierman. Master classes will be taught by Grunewald, Spierman, David Itkin, conductor of the Abilene Symphony and Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of North Texas Instrumental Studies; and Dr. Stephen Austin, Associate Professor of Voice at UNT.

This season includes multiple performances of five productions with more than 50 singers. Joining local students will be singers from across the country and from as far away as China, Turkey, and Singapore. All OBVI performances will be held in MSU's Akin Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students, and $35 for a festival pass. Admission is free with MSU ID card.

Diltz said that all proceeds from ticket sales go to scholarships for local singers to participate in the workshop. "We strive to partially and fully fund the local singers. By next year I hope to have full funding for all locals," she said.

Scheduled performances are:

Musical Theatre Cabaret - An exploration of the classic theatre repertoire of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and others, contrasted with current musical trends.

8 p.m., Saturday July 20.

Hotel Casablanca - A rip-roaring Lucille Ball-style farce set on a Texas ranch in 1948.

            8 p.m., Friday, July 19, and 2 p.m., Sunday, July 21.

Gianni Schicchi and opera scenes - A Puccini classic framed with operatic scenes. Sung in Italian with English supertitles.

            8 p.m., Wednesday, July 24, and 2 p.m., Saturday, July 27.

Le Nozze de Figaro - Mozart's bawdy humor and elegant melody. (The Marriage of Figaro). Sung in Italian with English supertitles.

            8 p.m., Thursday, July 25, and 8 p.m., Saturday, July 27.

Sondheim - Scenes from the composer/lyricist.

            8 p.m., Friday, July 26, and 2 p.m., Sunday, July 28.

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