The Opera Department mounts about 8 productions each year, for a combined total of around 40 performances. The various names — Opera Workshop, Opera Outreach, Chamber Opera, and Opera Theatre — may sound confusing; they differ mainly in the size of the accompanying forces (from piano solo to full orchestra) and in the proportion of the budget that is spent upon costumes and decor:
- Opera Workshop
Potpourri scenes, and occasionally complete one-act operas, when
presented with piano accompaniment in a simple staging without decor. All
in the original language, and single-cast. Generally two programs per
year, with one performance of each. The Opera Workshop also produces the
Opera Études, which
are described more fully elsewhere.
- Opera Outreach
- Although theoretically a part of Opera Workshop, in that these
productions are also given with piano, they differ by being performed
off-campus in multiple performances to a variety of audiences. We always
have one production of a standard opera in condensed form — either
Hansel and Gretel or The Magic Flute
— which we take around grade schools. This has two casts, and
sometimes even three, who give 8–10 performances each, spread out
over the whole year. Some years, we also offer a musical theater cabaret for
older audiences. Internally, the outreach program provides one of the best
ways for intermediate students to build up performance experience in front
of eager and responsive audiences.
- Peabody Chamber Opera
- The Chamber Opera presents complete productions of operas calling for
smaller stage and instrumental forces than our mainstage productions.
These productions are given with simple scenery and full costumes; they
are sung in the original languages and accompanied by a small orchestra.
They tend to fall into two categories: baroque and modern. The baroque programs have
included double- or triple-bills of shorter pieces by composers such as
Charpentier, Purcell, and Rameau, and occasionally full-evening works such
as Monteverdi’s Orfeo,
(in our own scholarly edition), or —
from a much earlier period — Hildegarde von Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum. More
modern works have included Conrad Susa’s Transformations,
Daniel Crozier’s With Blood, With Ink (a work originally
developed at Peabody and now slated for performance by the New York City
Opera), the Peter Brook adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen, and Udo
Zimmermann’s Die Weisse
Rose. These productions are often given in off-campus locations.
All have multiple performances, and many roles are double-cast.
- Peabody Opera Theatre
- The Opera Theatre is the banner under which we present our largest
productions, with full orchestra, scenery, costumes, and lighting, in our
own hall. There is one production each semester. Inevitably, they take the
largest share of the production budget. In order to provide as many roles
as possible, we tend to select ensemble works rather than those which
depend on one or two star roles. Accordingly, we have done a lot of Mozart
and Britten, together with such landmark operas as
Ariadne auf Naxos, The Cunning Little Vixen, and
The Rake’s Progress.
Most productions are sung in the original language. All are double-cast,
with each cast giving two performances.
In all productions, preference in casting is given to full-time students in good academic standing.Return to top> Previous page> Opera at Peabody home