For the third consecutive year, the University of Montevallo Opera Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Charles Wood, was selected as a finalist in the National Opera Association Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition.
The group performed at the NOA National Conference, held Jan. 9 in New York City, and placed second in the nation! Only two undergraduate scenes were recognized this year in this national competition, and Montevallo’s was one of them. Last year, the University of Montevallo won the national competition, held in Portland, Ore.
“These consistent results stem from the support of my colleagues, department chair, and other administrators,” said Wood.
For this competition, seniors Mattie Crisp of Oxford and Lauren Jones of Hartselle joined sophomores Grace Conner of Northport and Rachel Pickering of Jasper to perform the final quartet from Mark Adamo’s setting of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
Wood commented that he selected the sentimental scene because “the modernistic complexities of the music are woven masterfully into this very well-known story. There aren’t too many composers who would have been able to set a classic piece of literature and do it such justice. The work is quickly becoming a mainstay in the modern opera repertory.”
Each year, schools from across the nation submit scenes to the NOA competition, and a panel of distinguished opera directors views each submission. This year, five finalists were selected to compete in New York City. According to Wood, “The scenes are judged blindly. The judges have no information concerning which schools are submitting scenes.” The NOA explains that scenes are judged on musical style and accuracy, diction, vocal quality, stagecraft, individual characterizations and ensemble interaction. The performers are allowed only a table and chairs for a set. Wood said, “Within these strict limitations, the judges evaluate the creative use of the set, props and costumes.”
Wood acknowledges the support he has had from his colleagues and administrators. “(University of Montevallo) President Stewart works diligently raising the visibility of UM at the national level. It is evidence of that type vision and support, combined with the support of our music department chair, Alan Goldspiel, and the other faculty members, that UM students are gaining this recognition on a national level. It is a team effort leading to great results for our students.”
Dr. Laurie Middaugh, accompanist, and Wood traveled with the UM students to this year’s competition!