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UM Opera Ensemble

University of Montevallo Opera Ensemble wins national competition

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MONTEVALLO—The University of Montevallo Opera Ensemble, under the direction of Associate Professor Charles Wood, has won the National Opera Association Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition. Seniors Nidia Riley, soprano, and Devin Burton, baritone, as well as junior Marie Brewer, mezzo-soprano, were featured in a trio from Ambroise Thomas’ operatic setting of Hamlet. The scene was accompanied by Dr. Laurie Middaugh, staff accompanist. The students performed live before a panel of distinguished opera general managers and stage directors at the NOA National Conference, held Jan. 3-5 in Portland, Ore.

“The University of Montevallo competed against some of the largest flagship schools in the country,” said Wood. “The other finalists competing were the University of Colorado, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Montana, the University of Oregon and Georgia State University.” Wood further pointed out, “We were honored just to be named among such programs, all of which were graduate programs. But, if our students were intimidated, they never showed it. They were stellar in their performance.”

This is not the first national honor for the opera students at UM. Wood first submitted a scene to NOA last year and made the finals then, as well. UM placed third on their first attempt at the competition, which was held in Memphis, Tenn.

Wood credits the support of his colleagues and administrators for success on the national level. “It is great that our administrators support our efforts and see the value of the performing arts. To see UM’s name in print at these national conferences and listed among the finalists and winners on their website is an honor and great publicity. It reflects the fine work of the University as a whole.”

Summarizing a comment from Burton, Wood agrees that this win is a tribute to the students who came before and a new standard for the ones who will follow. Looking forward, he added, “We are enjoying the victory, but we must move on to our challenging spring production of Albert Herring.”

The UM Music Department will perform Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring April 19 and 20.