Curriculum, Instruction and Performances
A intensive program to improve operatic performance for emerging singers
The OAC Summer Program is based on the philosophy that opera is a form of musical theater, and that good acting and performance skills are as essential to great performers as good vocal technique.
Everyone who has experienced a great opera performance remembers how deeply moving it was.Great performances occur when the singer-performer communicates with a receptive audience.If an audience feels no emotional response to the action on stage, the effort was a waste for everyone.
OAC develops singers as performers so that they have the skills and confidence to interpret the intentions of the composer and to communicate them to an audience.The best way to become a master of the performance craft is through immersion in multi-faceted and intense performance practice in rehearsal and in front of live audiences.
The OAC Summer Program creates a positive and supportive environment where emerging singers integrate the knowledge, skills and abilities that are crucial to successful opera performance.Our faculty consists of active professionals in the field, and our stage directors, conductors, collaborative pianists, vocal and language coaches know exactly what skills are required to be a great performer.
The OAC Summer Program is intentionally geared to support emerging singers as they learn, explore, create, interpret and perform in the course of six weeks.Once a singer has been cast in a role, whether for scenes or as a character in one of the productions, his or her education is uniquely focused on perfecting that role. Our professional faculty will provide directions and feedback to ensure further development of every participant’s skills in vocal technique, dramatic interpretation, movement, language, diction and musicianship, as appropriate and necessary for the individual and the role.
The positive environment and intense work at the OAC Summer Program promotes the creation of constructive and lasting professional and personal relationships. Every performer is part of a team that includes the other singers, the conductor, the stage director and many backstage professionals. Being a good colleague on stage and off, pleasant to work with and respectful and respected, is a critical component to success in the performing arts. The OAC Summer program helps students perfect their skills as team players.
Who may benefit from the OAC Summer Program?
The OAC Summer Program is for emerging singers at all levels of skill and experience who wish to enhance their stage presence through intensive performance training.
There is much for a future opera performer to learn. Singers must study music history and theory, know the opera repertoire, learn an instrument, and study languages, all while concentrating on vocal technique and daily practice. While the best musical educational institutions stage performances to showcase their students, typically there are not enough roles to ensure that everyone gets to fully develop their stagecraft.
The OAC Summer Program gives emerging singers the opportunity to integrate required stage skills in front of live audiences. Whether students leave OAC to return to school or to begin a professional career, a summer at OAC will have a profound positive impact on the performance ability and confidence of its participants.
Students at OAC are divided into three broad program categories to ensure that each person receives the training that will most challenge and improve their performance skills.
How does it work?
Based on audition performance, students who are accepted into the OAC Summer Program are offered specific roles in opera scenes or in one of our productions. In addition, participants may be asked to alternate as chorus ensemble members. Everyone is expected to arrive for the Summer Program knowing their assigned music “off book”.
Rehearsals begin immediately, with the first opera scene programs only two weeks away, and the curtain for the first production performance only three weeks away. In order to meet these demanding deadlines, students adhere to a rigorous rehearsal schedule.
In addition to rehearsals, students receive additional support from OAC faculty tailored to the needs of the individual and their particular roles. The OAC Summer Program has excellent coaches ready to assist participants in language and diction, vocal technique and dramatic interpretation. Recipients of work-study scholarships will also participate in the opera scenes and the productions as members of a stage crew, or on teams working on props, costumes, wigs, makeup, lighting or supertitles.
OAC offers “Aria Evenings” and “Master Classes” as opportunities for students to work on their broader repertoire in the company of supportive professionals. Master Classes are conducted by prominent practitioners and celebrities specializing in voice, dramatic interpretation, movement, and language and diction. Ample time is given for students to hear feedback, and the public is invited to these events.
The OAC Summer Program also offers a unique and important opportunity for emerging singers to receive training in recitative for Mozart and Rossini operas. Having skill in these recitative techniques is critical to success in performing either repertoire. The class will be taught by Jonathan Khuner, Music Director of the West Edge Opera (formerly the Berkeley Opera).
In addition to recitative techniques, OAC also trains singers in spoken dialogue. Spoken dialogue is essential for performances of comic opera and operetta. Depending on repertoire, students may learn dialogue in English, French, German or Italian.
The Alexander Technique is also taught during the OAC Summer Program. Classes will encourage singers to improve their freedom of movement by enhancing their balance and coordination.
Though a great art form, singing is also a career choice and a business. OAC understands the importance of helping emerging singers to understand the many challenges and opportunities that await them as singing and performing becomes a career. Experienced OAC Summer Program faculty will discuss singing as a business, including planning for a successful career, negotiating contracts and making choices for a healthy work-life balance.
Meet San Francisco Bay Area Opera Professionals
While our faculty come from all over the world, many are based in the San Francisco Bay Area and are directors, conductors, and coaches in the many local opera companies. Our alumni have gone on to perform lead and comprimario roles with organizations such as West Bay Opera, Livermore Valley Opera, Notre Dame de Namur University, and West Edge Opera thanks to connections they have made at OAC.