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Lemuel Wade '89 returns to direct opera

November  07, 2012

"You're going to be fine." That's what Lemuel Wade '89 wants every Augustana student to know. It sounds simple enough, but the internationally acclaimed singer, dancer and director believes it worthwhile to reiterate. "Just persevere and breathe. Don't take everything so seriously. You've got to laugh at yourself...and you'll be good to go."

Wade is guest directing Opera @ Augustana's production of Amahl and the Night Visitors, part of Augustana's Celebration of Christmas. In preparation for the performances, Wade worked with the student cast for a week.

Lemuel Wade
Lemuel Wade '89

After graduating from Augustana, Wade studied at The Boston Conservatory and earned a master's in vocal performance. He stayed in Boston, working for the Boston Lyric Opera a few times before moving to New York. He embarked on a national performing tour of A Chorus Line and performed in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and several regional shows in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Wade eventually moved to Europe and performed on European tours of Guys and Dolls, Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. He then lived in Germany for seven years and "performed everywhere. I sang in a band, wrote some music and had a very diverse experience."  

By looking at his résumé, it may be obvious that Wade is not afraid of hard work, and he thinks the students he's working with shouldn't be either. "I hope I am helping the students to understand the importance of thoroughness and commitment to whatever they do. Sometimes you have to do a little bit more than you might think to get the result that you want." Clearly his attitude toward life and the problems we all encounter has paid off.

Wade moved back to New York in 2007 and has since worked on various productions, including assisting with the direction of a production of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess at the Teatro Di San Carlo in Naples, Italy. He received rave reviews from critic Mary Ellen Hutton of Music in Cincinnati for directing Porgy and Bess with the Cincinnati Opera.  

For much of his success, Wade credits his time at Augustana, saying, "The way I approach music, what I expect of myself, all comes from my experience [at Augustana], and I'm really grateful for that." He is especially thankful for his time as a member of the Augustana Choir where "the level of musicianship that was demanded of us truly influenced the way I learn music."  

Opera @ Augustana will perform Amahl and the Night Visitors November 16, 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. in Wallenberg Hall, inside the Denkmann Memorial Building (3520 7th Ave.). Tickets are $12 for the general public, $10 for senior citizens and students and $8 for children. To purchase tickets, visit or call (309) 794-7306.