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Opera Performance /Vocal Studies

Purchase College

The Opera Performance/Vocal Studies Department at Purchase College is a small, highly selective and unique program especially designed to train and mentor serious young singers in their pursuit of a career in professional classical singing. This is achieved through a highly disciplined and completely integrated curriculum taught by a talented, committed and caring faculty, all of whom are or were active, first class performing artists. An opinion in part shared by Classical Singer Magazine which awarded Chair of the department and internationally renowned tenor Jacque Trussel, Stage Director of the Year, and faculty member Joan Krueger, Vocal Coach of the Year.  While still in its relative infancy, the department was bestowed with the first of 8 prestigious National Opera Association – Best Opera of the Year awards; beginning in 2004 with the production of Hänsel und Gretel, and for each ensuing year, including last year’s 2011 production of Les Mamelles de Tirésias, by Poulenc.  In 2010, Purchase Opera conceived, created and produced the new opera, “Confession” with music written by Purchase student, Raphäel Lucas and a libretto by Jacque Trussel and Margaret Vignola. Confession went on to receive a Best Opera award as well as receiving the award for Best Chamber Opera, 2011/12.

The excellence of Purchase’s unique program is further validated by the achievements of recent graduates who have realized extraordinary successes at very early stages of their development, including an extraordinarily high acceptance rate into renowned graduate schools with most students receiving scholarships or internships. Many have entered professional development programs, including the prestigious Santa Fe Opera Apprentice program and the Merola program. Purchase students have also won first prizes in the Lieder Division of the prestigious Liederkranz Foundation Vocal Competition. Two of those students were the youngest singers in the contest at the time.  Others have performed leading roles with professional companies and won prizes in such well-known competitions as the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. Two alumni will be making their professional debuts in leading roles at The San Francisco Opera, the Santa Fe Opera and at the Metropolitan Opera this season and next.

The department’s working mantra is “Learn to perform by performing” and almost every class has a performing component. In particular, our programis widely acclaimed for its excellent instruction of vocal technique, stage technique, movement, language studies and musical styles. The operas, which are performed primarily by undergraduates are routinely praised for their “inventiveness and high level of professional quality” and are just a part of the performing opportunities provided for students to combine these disciplines. Others include public venues for performances of opera scenes, art song evenings, solo recitals and choral works.

The Purchase College campus provides some of the finest facilities for performance, rehearsal, practice and recording in the New York area (refer to Facilities on Conservatory of Music Home page). Students in the Department of Opera Performance & Vocal Studies perform chamber opera, opera scenes, solo recitals and biweekly recitals in the Conservatory’s acoustically superior Recital Hall. Main-stage operas are performed to sold-out audiences, in the 500-seat Recital Hall of the well-known Performing Arts Center.

In 2008, Purchase Opera was privileged to present the East Coast premiere of Lee Hoiby’s The Tempest. We were thrilled to have Maestro Hoiby’s participation in our production as well as PBS who spent several days on campus filming this special event. All this was made more special because in 1987 Maestro Hoiby had selected Jacque Trussel to sing the central role of Caliban for its world premiere.

In 1998 Jacque Trussel, Bonnie Hamilton and Hugh Murphy, embarked upon their vision, to create a professional training program for Purchase College, its goal to give the highest quality education and practical experience to aspiring young performers.  In only twelve years, with the expertise of a highly gifted faculty who share that vision of excellence, the Department of Opera Performance & Vocal Studies, has become and continues to cultivate a family of well educated and highly successful young professionals.