College of Fine & Performing Arts

Voice and Opera

Voice and Opera

Voice Area Coordinator, Dr. Eric Rieger

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. 

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.  


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.

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 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.

A female character wearing a crown holds hands with a male character

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

A man in a long, royal robe stands in front of a crowd of characters

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

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.

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

Kiss me Kate, 2017. Charlotte Roulet Photography.

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

Lucrezia, 2018. Charlotte Roulet Photography.

Production Photo Gallery

Così fan tutte

Photographed by

Charlotte Roulet

two opera singers and one person starying, all in renaissance costumes. two opera singers in renaissanceseveral opera singers in renaissance costumetwo actors cross fencing swords in front of crowd scene with opera singers in renaissance costumesingers in renaissance costumes against a starry backdropopera singer in renaissance costumeromantic dancing couple in renaissance costumetwo actors in masks and two without in comedic posetwo actors with masks, one singer belting it out, one actor standing in a dressactor in mask clutching woman in dress in romantic posetwo actors in masks and renaissance costume look like they're plotting somethingthree apparently female opera singers in renaissance costumesopera singer in renaissance costume including cloak and floppy hattwo actors in renaissance costume exchanging a secretthree opera singers in renaissance costumes engaged in a traditional dancegroup of actors in renaissance costume, some in masks, all seated facing each othertwo actors in renaissance costume arguingactor looks distressed by actor in mask both in renaissance costumetwo actors in renaissance costume reclining on bed, smiling. One wears a mask.crowd finale scene. a dozen opera singers in renaissance costume

The Magic Flute

Photographed by

Nicholas Bone

opera singer in silly hat rehearses at the piano with accompanistsix performers in bright, fanciful costumes, including one dressed like a dragon.several actors in fanciful red and purple cloaks. Two wear large in feathered red hat impores actor dressed as a monarchactor dressed like a king with a sword and sashseveral actors and a couple children. Man in silly red hat and woman in purple dress.actors against bright blue background. Figures include a dragon, several people dressed in fanciful royal dress.two brightly clothed actors flail about near person in dragon suit holding purple in purple dress, actor in dragon suit, two purple boxes against scenic backdropactor in dragon suit leans backward in tense posetwo actors in purple dress converse while dragon suit person looks onactor with crown orates while actor in purple dress attendsactor in red feathered hat beholds something remarkable in his in dress and smock appears coquettishactor in red feathered hat flourishes patterned cape at actor in peasant dressactor in red feathered hat converses cheerfully with actor in peasant dressactor dressed as king converses with actor in purple dressseveral actors strike finale pose - including actor in red feathered hat, actor in peasant dress, dragon, and others.crowd of schoolchildren watch a performance of the Magic Flutetwo actors sing excitedly to each other


Photographed by

Celia and Charlotte Roulet

a dark scene of guitarist in hat performing for a seated person.singing actor in suit, waistcoat, and string tie. Other actors in vests look on.energetic dance scene in reddish lightseveral actors converse in front of crowd of other actors. Looks serious.jubilant crowd dance focuses on alluring actor in bold dancing posedramtatically lit actor sitting, holding a paper fanactor holds stemware while other actors look on. Provocative scene in red light.actors engaged in something like a flamenco-style dance. dramatic lighting.two actors in candlelit scene. one singing, one looking in sassy pose with crowd singing in backgroundstern looking actors disputing in front of crowd. Actors in vests and rolled up shirt sleevestwo actors in romantic embraceguitar player and singer. Singer wearing 1920s era dress.seated contemplative actor sings to a flower.contemplative actor seated at desk muses over a book in a deep blue sings boldlytwo actors singing among a bunch of flowersactor tenderly holds the chin of anothersaturated red light. Figures in the scene are hard to make out.a dimly lit scene of actor holding the hand of someone prone - possibly injured or dying.

Gianni Schicchi

Photographed by

Celia and Charlotte Roulet

actors crowded around an actor in a bed. A large painting of person on horse nearby.An actor sings meaningfully to a bottle of red of actors in semi formal dress sing to each other. A child looks with pleasant expression persusing a calendaractor reads something to others crowded around a bed. Person in bed not of astonished actors. Some appeared dismayed. One reads a paper with a look of alarm.small child holds the head of an actor reclining in bed.two actors in early 20th century constume engaged in disputeseveral actors, seated looking bored. Painting of rider on horse in background.some kind of a ruckes. actors could be dancing, fighting, or with pensive expression sings. Two others look on skeptically.six actors with heads tilted sing together looking out of the frame to the rightmaybe a ghost? Standing on a bed?actor looking consternated grasping something that might be a person in a bed.several seated actors looking aroundsweaty actor holding a rolled up paperseveral actors all bunched up reaching for something one of them holdsbunch of actors standing bedside as though at a funeral.two happy actors seated in a romantic couple kind of wayan actor hold his hands overhead with a look of triumph

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Photographed by

Rachel Bayne

actors in fantasy costumes cavort in eerie light in front of abstract sceneryseveral fairies look on while fairy queen instructs wild looking performer on stilts like hoovesActor with antlers and bare torso sings in an isolated pool of lightTwo actors in Edwardian dress sing to each other romanticallyantlered actor on hooves poses with fairy against colorful abstract scenereytwo studious fellows in ascots and waistcoats consider something wieighty in songfairies posing in magical blue lightBottom with head of an assActor wearing a donkey head kneels before fairy queen while magical folks look onfour actors harangue each other in song. strange fairies lurk behind.a gaggle of foolish romantic actors and fairiesa woodland sprite in an angular and sneaky posequeen of the fairies beholding sleeping lovers. Queer light, fairies attend.a group of enthusiastic mechanicals in earthtone suitsgroup of rude mechanicals flailing aboutactor dressed as a brick wall separates two other silly actorsactor carrying lamp on pole, actor with lion mask. Others in elegant dress look on.large group scene of stage. Actors seating and standing. Geometrically abstract scenery.clump of sill actors appearing to dance with cloth.cavorting fairies