• 2014–2015 Provost's Initiatives

    "Opera & Musical Theater Workshop," Professors Kathy Thomsen & Deb Carbaugh

  • Course Description:

    There was clearly a need and desire for this course, as we had 21 students. We accepted everyone, although several were very inexperienced singers who we knew would face significant challenges. Everyone auditioned and had at least one solo. Everyone performed as an ensemble member in at least four scenes. In teams, the students wrote program notes for the concert, and each student also wrote a scene and character analysis. The final concert in Sundin Music Hall consisted of 17 scenes from musicals and operas, encompassing a wide range of styles and periods. We attended two events as a class: Behind the Curtain – an introduction to the Minnesota Opera, and the Minnesota Opera’s performance of ‘The Elixir of Love’ at the Ordway. Our biggest takeaway was that students were hungry for this course. Part of the reason for its success was the intensity of the experience and the commitment of every participant. The students responded enthusiastically to the vocal training they received, and they were committed to all aspects of the course. They worked independently, with each other, with us, and not a single student became disengaged. The schedule, 11 AM to 4 PM Monday – Thursday, was demanding but necessary. Neither they nor we could do anything else all month. The final concert was successful and created a buzz on campus. This was the most exhausting, and the most rewarding teaching either of us has experienced at Hamline. This course could be a starting point for a LEAP experience in spring term. Having performed on campus at the end of January, students could take their show on the road. They could form a working company that traveled throughout the metro area performing. Such an experience would require students to make contacts in the community, create professional portfolios, book engagements, and perform. Learning to manage various aspects of a small performing arts organization would connect the J term experience to the world of work. We are most grateful for the opportunity to have created and offered this course. It will be different every time it is offered due to new repertoire. We’d like to find a place for it in the curriculum, probably alternate J terms, believing our students will remember their experiences in this course long after they graduate from Hamline.