Opera is open to all

Robert DeSimone

The column that ran in The Daily Texan on July 16 about opportunities for undergraduates pursuing opera needs some clarification and context. The Butler School of Music does not offer an undergraduate degree in opera, as the article suggests. A vocal performance degree with an emphasis in opera is only available to Masters and Doctoral candidates.

Not only at the Butler School of Music, but in peer vocal schools at universities across the country, most undergraduate students hone their vocal strength and skill while taking advantage of performance opportunities that are appropriate for their level of skill and experience. Adequate preparation for a large production takes vocal maturity. It can take years of training and practice to develop the voice. Many undergraduates do not yet possess the ability to carry an advanced-level, three-hour opera in the lead role multiple times a week.

However, the Butler Opera Center provides multiple opportunities for undergraduate vocal majors to perform in full productions when it is appropriate and theeducational performance is suited for their level of skill and experience. In the production of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore, two undergraduate students performed the supporting and very important role of Giannetta and in LaHija de Rapaccini by Daniel Catan, the lead soprano role of Beatriz was performed by an undergraduate student and three undergraduate students performed supporting role of Flowers.

In the 2011-2012 academic year, BOC provided a full production of Dido and Aeneas and three other educational performance experiences for undergraduates that included a Rodgers and Hammerstein concert, An Opera Aria concert, Die Fledermaus chorus. This totals four outstanding performance experiences, three of which were programmed specifically for undergraduate voice students.

— Dr. Robert DeSimone, director at Butler Opera Center and Professor Darlene Wiley and division head at Vocal Arts