Students with The University of Montana Opera Theater recently were honored by the National Opera Association. Two of their scenes were selected to compete in Portland, Ore., Jan. 3-5 in the national finals of the Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition, and a UM team was judged to have performed the best undergraduate scene in the nation.
Thain Bertin and Jenna Preston performed a scene from “Eugene Onegin” in the graduate division, and John Knispel and Arielle Nachtigal did a scene from Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus” in the undergraduate division.
“The School of Music was grateful and excited to travel to the convention and have the opportunity for our students to sing alongside their peers on a national level,” said Anne Basinski, a voice professor in UM’s School of Music. “Everyone in the college was thrilled that ‘Die Fledermaus’ was designated the winner – top undergraduate scene in the country!”
The singers got to work in a session with maestro Valery Ryvkin, who has worked with the San Diego, Merola, Sarasota and Greensboro operas, as well as director Gordon Ostrowski, dean and head of opera with the Manhattan School of Music.
The students also worked in sessions conducted by Ken Benson, vice president of Columbia Artists Management; distinguished singer and teacher John Duykers; and director David Ostwald, author of “Acting for Singers,” who has worked at The Juilliard School and the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute.
Three UM voice students also advanced to the Northwest Regional Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, happening Sunday, Jan. 27, in Seattle. The students are Neila Getz, John Knispel and Arielle Nachtigal. An encouragement award was also given to UM alumna Cynthia Bauder.
The Metropolitan Opera holds annual auditions to discover and encourage important talent. At the first level there are district auditions, and those winners advance to regional finals. The winner in Seattle will advance to New York for the final level of the competition.
“We wish Neila, John and Arielle great success,” Basinski said. “We’ll definitely let everyone know if they advance to the last level of the Metropolitan Opera competition.”
The UM Opera Theater and Chamber Chorale will tour eastern Montana in January, the Chamber Chorale and Symphonic Winds were selected to perform at the All Northwest Music Educators Association Conference in February, and the Opera Theater will present “Die Fledermaus” April 10-11.
Photo caption: A team of UM students won best undergraduate scene in the nation at Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition finals earlier this month in Portland, Ore. Pictured are (left to right) students Jenna Preston, Arielle Nachtigal and Thain Bertin, as well as UM Opera Theater director Anne Basinski, student John Knispel, collaborative pianist Barbara Blegen and Opera Theater music director David Cody.
Western Montana, Dailies