Going Pro

Ohio State student voice majors Andrew Hall (far left) and Joshua Cook (second from left) join members of Opera Columbus in the chorus for Madama Butterfly.

Ohio State student voice majors Andrew Hall (far left) and Joshua Cook (second from left) join members of Opera Columbus in the chorus for Madama Butterfly.


Thanks to a new partnership between Opera Columbus and Ohio State, student voice majors from the School of Music are tucking some real-world, professional experience under their belts.

Through a new Opera Theatre program, eligible students, when available, will participate in an Opera Columbus main-stage production and will regularly perform with its annual Opera Goes to School educational tours. Details also are being worked out for students in the Department of Theatre to become involved in stage management, costume design and set design.

“This is a wonderful collaboration that opens the doors for increased performance and design opportunities for our students, and gives them a chance to share the spotlight with—and learn from—a professional opera company,” said Valarie Williams, associate dean and executive director of Ohio State’s Arts Initiative. “It’s a great example of our ‘town and gown’ endeavor that seeks to find ways for student artists from the university to work in tandem with professional artists downtown.”

Last spring, more than a dozen Ohio State students sang in the chorus for the Opera Columbus production, Madama Butterfly, and this spring, four student vocalists and a pianist are taking the company’s school tour of Jack and the Beanstalk to a host of local elementary schools and Columbus Metropolitan Library branches. The students receive a stipend for their work.

“Our students are really enjoying working with Opera Columbus. The school tour in particular is a great example of educational, community outreach,” said A. Scott Parry, director of Ohio State Opera Theatre.

It also helps make the school performances more readily available, according to Peggy Kriha Dye, general manager of Opera Columbus. “Because Ohio State is our partner, we’re able to provide local schools with the opera production free of charge,” she said. “That’s having a big impact in our community.” The production—which not only introduces children to opera, but also carries a message about bullying—is touring to 20 local schools. Next year, Dye hopes there will be three different children’s operas on tour locally.

The collaboration, she adds, has gone very smoothly.

"When you set the bar high, ambitious students like these from Ohio State are willing to meet it. They have far surpassed expectations already." {Peggy Kriha Dye}

“By working together, Opera Columbus and Ohio State are making a big footprint in the community and in the schools,” said Dye.

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