Vocal Performance/Opera

A scene from Charles Gounod's Roméo et Juliette during the Fall 2020 Opera Scenes Performance.

Applied voice study at Luther College is the largest area of concentration in the music department. Distinguished voice faculty in more than ten voice studios serve more than 250 students from across the campus. Prospective students may audition for music scholarships prior to attending Luther College. These scholarships, like course offerings and applied lessons, are available to non-music majors as well.  For the more than 100 music majors who elect vocal performance as their area of study, participation in one of the five choral ensembles is a requirement. A solo degree recital is required for the music major; a second elective or a non-major recital is possible with permission from the applied instructor and the voice faculty. In addition to the core music course requirements, students have the opportunity to take courses in diction, vocal literature, vocal coaching, acting, modern languages, and participate as soloists in oratorio and opera performances.

Oratorio performance is part of a long tradition at Luther College. In the spring semester of alternating years, the orchestra, choral, and vocal areas collaborate in the presentation of a major work. Students may audition for solos in many of these. Recent performances have included Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel's Messiah, Brahms' Requiem, Bach’s St. John Passion, and a commissioned work, Luther Mass, by Stephen Paulus.

Opera courses at Luther are designed to help students develop the craft of singing and acting in tandem. Each spring the music department presents a fully-staged and costumed opera production. Students not only participate as performers, but they also learn about technical aspects of opera as theater. Recent opera productions include Aaron Copland's The Tender Land (2019), Mozart's Così fan tutte (2018), and Gilbert & Sullivan's The Gondoliers (2017). The spring opera productions are accompanied by orchestra in alternating years; most are sung in English or English translations. In addition, students study and perform staged scenes from opera, operetta, and musical theatre in the fall opera workshop course and the January-term first-year seminar. Any student studying applied voice, regardless of academic major, is eligible to audition for these courses.

Several substantial scholarship awards are available in the opera area.  The Alan R. and Sally J. Brudos Family Prize for Opera Performance is an auditioned scholarship award. It is presented each year to an outstanding junior voice student with the stated intent of pursuing opera as a career path. Coinciding with the Brudos auditions, The David Greedy Memorial Scholarship is also awarded to an outstanding junior singer with career aspirations. Additionally, the Darlene (Peterson) Jones and Robert Jones Scholarship is awarded annually to a student, selected by the voice faculty, who is cast in a leading role in the spring opera production.

Many Luther College alumni perform with major opera houses and other professional organizations, both internationally and domestically. Others attend distinguished graduate programs in music, and go on to teach in university, college, and public and private education positions. Current students are able to learn from these distinguished alumni and other leading professionals who present recitals, master classes, and clinics on campus. These visiting teachers and singers are associated with graduate schools, young artist programs, and opera companies. Their presence gives our students tangible contact to the wider singing world.

Guest Artists

  • Stephen Austin (University of North Texas)
  • Lori Bade (Louisiana State University)
  • Karen Brunssen ‘75 (Northwestern University)
  • Eric Cutler ’99
  • Michael Dean (University of California at Los Angeles)
  • Linda DiFiore (University of California at Santa Barbara, University of North Texas)
  • Aaron Judisch ‘99
  • Martin Katz (vocal coach/collaborative pianist; University of Michigan)
  • Eric Melear ‘95 (Associate Music Director; Houston Grand Opera)
  • Rebecca Pacheco (Dallas Opera, Utah Lyric Opera)
  • W. Stephen Smith (Northwestern University, Bienen School of Music)
  • Caroline Worra ’91
  • John Wustman (vocal coach/collaborative pianist; University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana)