Luther College Opera Wins First Place in Division II of the National Opera Association Opera Production Competition | Securities
Luther’s spring 2021 opera production “Dido and Aeneas” won first place in Division II of the 2020-21 National Opera Association (NOA) Opera Production Competition.
The competition promotes excellence in opera education and pedagogy through its support of a diverse community of opera educators and professionals. It was the first time that Luther took part in this annual competition.
“This award is an exceptional tribute to our program,” said Andrew Whitfield, opera coordinator. “The judges noted a wonderful musicality, the full engagement of the ensemble throughout the piece, the inventive concept and the cohesive staging. We are very proud of the work of our students. We see their talent and dedication manifested on campus every day, and it is exciting to see these attributes celebrated nationally. “
“I am very proud of the production that we have put on,” said Dylan Schang, who played the role of Aenas. “Our production of ‘Dido and Aeneas’ underscored the importance of preserving democracy, especially in the current political climate, set on the tragic story of the two lovers. I think this award represents the vision of our directors, produced by our actors and our team, to offer a truly impactful production. “
Due to the ongoing pandemic, instructors and students were faced with challenges they had to overcome, such as wearing masks, limited rehearsal times, and the need to act on the prerecorded audio of student singers and instrumentalists for a live performance.
“Winning first place is a great honor,” said Molly Holcomb, who played Belinda. “It really shows the amount of effort the cast and crew put into producing the opera, especially given the circumstances. It was a kind of production that Luther had never put together before, kind of a great experience. Winning the award meant the experience was a success, and it’s something we should all be proud of. It was really teamwork. “
The production was directed by Whitfield and Carla Thelen Hanson, music teacher, with Nicholas Shaneyfelt, assistant music teacher, as musical director. Mick Layden, digital media producer for the music department, served as a sound technician and live broadcast videographer. Mark Potvin, assistant professor of music, was the set designer. Other members of the production team included Cleo Garza, Emmelyn Cullen, and Marann Faget.
The cast members included Evan Berth, Kyla Billington, Andrea Blocker, Patrick Carew, Nicholas Drilling, Willa Eacret, Megan Elford, Gabe Goeddeke, Molly Graff, Mikaela Hanrahan, Ashley Harms, Joshua Hartl, Molly Holcomb, Emily Lauer, Stefanie Maas , Hunter Meyer, Rhylan Peterson, Ash Rebmann, Barbara Reed, Brenna Reiland, Brynja Riehm, Dylan Schang, Anne Sedlacek, Abs Trewin, Thomas Warden, Madeline Wilkins and Ethan Williams.
Members of the orchestra included Nathan Eck, Ben Gunsch, Eric Head, Shana Liu, Frances Marshall, Malachi Rettmann and Belle Searcy.
The aim of the NOA Opera Production Competition is to advance the organization’s mission by encouraging and rewarding creative and high-quality opera productions in academic institutions and music conservatories. Due to the wide range of resources available to production organizations, entrants are first divided into undergraduate and graduate levels (depending on the predominant age group or level of training of the cast), then each level is divided into three divisions according to production size and budget. Luther falls into Division II.
“Luther’s music program as a whole creates so many opportunities beyond simple opera; the history of excellence in music education training specifically in the choral field is truly exemplary, ”said Schang.
“Luther provides a high caliber musical education, and you constantly feel like you are not only being pushed by those around you, but also supported. I am extremely grateful to be a part of Luther’s musical legacy and the community it creates, ”says Holcomb.
About Luther College Music
Luther is home to one of the largest undergraduate music programs in the country, with five choirs, three orchestras, two groups, two jazz groups and more than 600 student musicians. Luther’s students participate in large ensembles, chamber groups led by professors, private lessons, and master classes. Nearly 175 music majors study music theory, hearing training, history, education, composition, jazz, church music, and performance. Learn more at luther.edu/music.