Voice and Opera

The solo voice area at Western Washington University features a diverse and active student body with faculty who focus on undergraduate vocal training tailored to suit students' unique needs and passions. In addition to the core coursework, the voice area offers courses focusing on art song and aria preparations; vocal pedagogy; English, Italian, French, and German diction; and vocal repertoire. Our yearly Opera Scenes and Opera production are open to the entire WWU community. Auditions for both productions are held early Fall quarter each academic year. 

Two opera singers holding hands wearing white garb on stage
A man in a long, royal robe stands in front of a crowd of characters

L'incoronazione di Poppea, 2019. Charlotte Roulet Photography.

Performance Opportunities

Undergraduate students have the opportunity to perform full leading roles in our main stage operas, direct and perform in our annual opera scenes, participate in our quarterly concert series Liederabend, as well as compete in Aria Competition and Concerto Competition. In addition to on-campus performance, students have the opportunities to tour with our education outreach program as well as audition for community and professional opera companies around the Bellingham and surrounding Seattle area.

WWU Opera Studio

Western's nationally-recognized Opera Studio offers students exceptional performing experiences in a range of staging formats, including those designed for our state-of-the-art studio space to fully-produced works in collaboration with the WWU Orchestra on the WWU Mainstage.

In addition to the opera itself, the studio presents a touring production at elementary schools and libraries in Whatcom County, and a scenes program in which students have the opportunity to take on all production roles including directing and design.

The Opera Studio provides valuable experience and many pathways for young singers to grow in the broad range of skills called for in dynamic, exciting performance - from strong musicianship and singing to acting, movement, and collegiality. 

A group of actors in costume hold hands in a circle. Two actors in the foreground embrace, and one in the background looks down upon the group.

A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2014. Rachel Bayne Photography.

Productions

Opera director Dr. Eric Rieger along with music director, Mark Davies, strive to build a supportive environment while maintaining high standards of excellence in performance and production. Along with conductor Ryan Dudenbostel and artistic consultant and coach Jay Rozendaal, they bring an impressive breadth of operatic experience to Western's opera program. The repertoire is carefully chosen to showcase our talented students and appropriate music for undergraduate vocalists.

Previous productions have included Don Giovanni, Gianni Schicchi, Cendrillon, Le nozze di figaro, Cosi fan tutte, Kiss me Kate, A Midsummer Night's Dream, L'incoronazione di Poppea, L'enfant et les sortilege, and many more. 

In 2018 the opera studio produced the northwest premiere of William Bolcom's Lucrezia. The students had the opportunity to work directly with Willam Bolcom during his residency and participate in the celebration of his 80th birthday.

A dashing actor in a feathered hat annoys another actor in a doublet

Kiss me Kate, 2017. Charlotte Roulet Photography.

Guest Artists

The voice area regularly invites internationally renowned performers and coaches for masterclasses and private coaching. Recent visiting artists have included William Bolcom, Maitland Peters, Gran Wilson, Dean Williamson, Joan Morris, Nuccia Focile, Heidi Grant Murphy, Gary Thor Wedow and Robert McPherson.

Alumni

Alumni have gone on to enjoy performance careers in opera and musical theatre around the world, as well as successful music educators, private instructors, coaches, and conductors. Our alumni have attended graduate school at Indiana State University, Manhattan School of Music, Rice University, Northwestern, University of Michigan, University of British Columbia, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and many more.

an actor pushes their hand over the mouth of an astonished actor

Lucrezia, 2018. Charlotte Roulet Photography.

Looking for more information?

If you have any questions, we're happy to find you an answer. Call the Music Department Office 360-650-3130, or view the directory of faculty and staff.