Eugene Opera Academy: Review of 2014-15 Season


The 2014-15 Eugene Opera Academy just finished its season which included 18 events to see how opera moves from conception to the stage.

We started off with a session which introduced interested students and their families to the entire season, and learned the plot of the first opera, Donizetti’s Elixir of Love.

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This was followed by sessions wherein students met the local production assistants: Stage Manager Erin Empey, Office Assistant Grace Ho and Assistant Conductor Zeke Fetrow.


Next, we attended an early chorus rehearsal and talked with Chorus Manager Colleen Gaskill and Chorus Master John Jantzi.


Once staging rehearsals started, we met with Music Director Andrew Bisantz, Stage Director Patrick Hansen, and had a roundtable meeting with the principal artists.

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We saw an early staging rehearsal and the Final Floor Run in the rehearsal space and marveled at the progress in such a short time. Marco and Angela were hysterically funny!

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Once in the Hult Center, we watched part of the orchestra rehearsal…

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Then we visited the Props table, dressing room…


and fly rail.

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This was all topped off by seeing the Matinee performance, and debriefing at a pizza party.

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After a month off, we prepared for Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Once again, we first met the locals. This time, we met with Costumer Jeanette de Jong and Makeup/Hair Stylist Sarah Clifford.


We stayed for the chorus rehearsal and were surprised that the choristers were already memorizing the opening/closing scenes of the opera, and were exciting to hear!

Next, we attended several community lectures/concerts/exhibits relating to the opera and Sondheim.

After staging rehearsals started, we met with Stage Director Bill Fabris and had a fabulous roundtable discussion with the artists and stayed to watch them in action in rehearsal.

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Pianist Nathalie, John, Conductor Adam Turner, Bill and Erin’s team:

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A Master Class was held before one rehearsal, in which Mark Beudert worked with two academy members, Ananda Burke and Harley Emery.

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Finally, at the Hult Center, we were treated to a backstage tour and Final Dress rehearsal of Sweeney Todd, topped off a few days later by seeing the matinee performance.


Our final session was a potluck with three Academy participants giving presentations:

  • Krishara Combs gave a compelling analysis of Sweeney Todd, using a visually stunning Powerpoint.
  • Isabel Renich read her original plot for an opera, complete with couples in conflicting situations, using visual characters to help us follow the plot.
  • Ananda Burke performed Johanna’s challenging aria “Green Finch & Linnet Bird” and stunned us with her lovely voice and clear diction.

After much deliberation the Education Committee decided Isabel Renich will be the recipient of a $500 scholarship to be applied when she attends college.


The participants were very excited about the events of the year and looking forward to doing it again next year. When asked if they wanted to go to events for the expanded season of 4 operas, they replied with a resounding “yes!”

We hope to see all of them, and additional recruits for the 2015-16 season ready to soak up the atmosphere of being inside the opera!!


–Eugene Opera Education Committee (Barbara Myrick, Joyce Leader, Richard Long, Tony Meyer, Phyllis Villec, Colleen Gaskill)

 The next class of participants, for the 2015-16 season, will be selected in October 2015.

To learn more, contact Eugene Opera or call us at 541-485-3985.