Founded in 1988 under the direction of Dr. Catherine Fowler Payn, the Bucknell Opera Company has gained a reputation for creating high quality performances of operatic literature in an undergraduate, liberal arts environment. Members of the company sing roles that support their vocal and artistic development by exploring both traditional and contemporary genres. Bucknell Opera Company's performances, both on and off campus, have gained particular acclaim for innovative productions of significant contemporary American works.
As part of its mission and position within a larger, liberal arts university, Bucknell Opera Company collaborates with other artists and academics, both within and outside the University. For example, in a concert performance of Zarzuela arias in April 2012 the company worked with members of the Bucknell Dance Department. BOC is happy to announce the dance department will be choreographing parts of the opera for its March 2014 production of The Magic Flute as well. The ensemble utilizes visual artists from the community as well. Elaine Crossman, a nationally recognized visual artist, is designing and constructing masks for use in the The Magic Flute. Previously, Lewisburg Area High School students contributed to the company's performance of Haydn's Il mondo della luna in May of 2011 by constructing immense puppets with a local professional artist.
The Bucknell Opera Company is also dedicated to outreach within the community, as part of its mission, through the production of Family Matinees and performances at local schools. Bucknell Opera Company has also enlisted the talent of young singers and students from schools across Pennsylvania. In its May 2013 production of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, the ensemble auditioned children from the Lewisburg area to participate in the production as the children's chorus.
The members of the ensemble have numerous performance opportunities, including concerts on and off campus in such places as New York and Philadelphia, on campus masterclasses with well-known composers and artists, such as Jake Heggie, Lee Hoiby and Heidi Grant Murphy and collaborations with the composition, jazz, ethnomusicology and theatre areas.
Bucknell Opera Company hopes to mold students into well rounded artists and encourages singers to explore all areas of academia along with their musical interests. These experiences only further enrich students' understanding of vocal literature and improve the quality of performances. The ensemble offers individualized attention and performance opportunities to foster the growth of each individual singer. Directors and voice faculty emphasize the necessities of healthy vocal technique, dramatic ability, and artistic expression. Bucknell Opera Company is, most importantly, a family and support system that encourages members to pursue a future as an advocate and performer of the arts.
The Bucknell Opera Company strives to engage audiences throughout the surrounding community by providing students with opportunities to learn more about opera. With the Opera Education Initiative, Bucknell Opera Company students visit and perform in local schools, working to express the importance and accessibility of opera. The primary goal of the program is to stimulate youth artistic engagement and curiosity. We aim to instill artistic curiosity in students, many of whom might not have the opportunity to engage with opera on a personal level. Bucknell students work closely with the Music Education Department, preparing lesson plans, activities, and presentations that highlight the basic elements of opera and the performing arts. Bucknell students also have the opportunity to perform arias or scenes in front of new audiences. Last spring, the opera company performed scenes from Hansel and Gretel and then guided the students through an activity in which they created their own original opera using body rhythms and their voices to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood. For the 2013 Hansel and Gretel production, we auditioned students in the Lewisburg area, many of whom participated in our previous program, to sing in the children's chorus.
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