Using wide-ranging genres including opera, cabaret and a capella, OperX seeks to transform singers’ abilities to combine singing and acting into collaborative musical storytelling. OperX vocalists work with instrumentalists, composers, chamber orchestra and other singers to create dynamic performances that combine their diverse energies and talents.
OperX Ensemble creates two or three distinctive events each year in addition to collaborating with the theatre department in presenting a spring musical. These events include a full opera production, a scenes program, and a cabaret night with a strong storymap to guide students’ creative submissions of acts. Auditions for these events are open to all students taking applied voice lessons.
The scenes program will be enhanced as the college moves to semesters, when OperX will offer an opera workshop intensive every other year during J-term, beginning in January 2021. In consultation with the orchestral director, every four years the OperX ensemble would hope to perform a concert version of the musical drama with the chamber orchestra as the culminating experience of this workshop.
Guest clinicians, specialists in particular skills such as Baroque opera and dance, and the composers of new operas are periodically invited to campus to enrich the learning experience for students and audience. Field trips to see large productions at world-class opera houses like Chicago Lyric Opera are organized from time to time. Exploration of opera over the past twenty years at Augustana has offered undergraduate singers and actors an incredibly wide range of unique opportunities to learn musical dramas from the 12th to the 21st century. Augustana voice students have performed works from ancient liturgical dramas to contemporary Broadway musicals and everything in between: Baroque opera, 18th century comic opera, dramatic 19th century works, British operetta, 20th century cabaret, and even operatic works written by contemporary composers, including fellow music students who are majoring in music composition. OperX Ensemble continues this tradition with renewed energy for the creative possibilities of musical storytelling as we cross-train singers across genres, cultures, and time periods.