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UTRGV Opera Theater takes first place in National Opera Association competition

The UTRGV Opera Theater’s Bravo Opera Company has earned first place in the National Opera Association’s Opera Production Competition, Division II, for this spring 2017 production of Orpheus in the Underworld. (UTRGV Archive Photo by David Pike)

The UTRGV Opera Theater’s Bravo Opera Company has earned first place in the National Opera Association’s Opera Production Competition, Division II, for this spring 2017 production of Orpheus in the Underworld. (UTRGV Archive Photo by David Pike)

By Amanda A. Taylor

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – DEC. 15, 2017 – The UTRGV Opera Theater’s Bravo Opera Company has been awarded first place in the National Opera Association’s (NOA) Opera Production Competition, Division II, for its spring 2017 production of Orpheus in the Underworld.

The association opens competitions each season to encourage and reward creative opera productions in small professional opera companies and training programs, including academic institutions, music conservatories summer opera training programs and opera outreach programs. The competition includes six divisions based on criteria like set/costume cost, class rank of students in roles and orchestra size.

Dr. Catherine Compton, Opera Theater director and lecturer in voice with the UTRGV School of Music, said it was an honor to be recognized in the company of the other schools and ensemble that were competing.

“We are a student-led organization in a lot of ways, so our students helped with everything from creating the program and organizing costumes, to finding props and even directing some of the scenes from the opera,” Compton said. “It was a big group effort so it’s exciting to be recognized nationally for that.”

Other winners included:

  • Division I – Oberlin Chamber Opera.
  • Division II – University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
  • Division III – Oklahoma State University.
  • Division IV – Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory.
  • Division V – SUNY Purchase.
  • Division VI – Commonwealth Lyric Theatre.

UTRGV’s winning production, Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach, is a comedy production that targets Greek mythology and operatic conventions. The production was directed by Compton, with support by Dr. Allan Armstrong, music director and conductor; Dr. Daniel Holly-Hunter, production design; and Joey Garcia, Connie Elizabeth Muñoz and Meagann Nimchan, student assistant directors.

“These student directors are interested in becoming future directors and music educators, so it was a great training experience for them,” Compton said. “I’m proud of their creative work and that they’re being recognized on this level for it.”

This isn’t the first time the UTRGV Opera Theater has been recognized with a national award. The group was awarded third place in Division II in the NOA Collegiate Scenes Competition in the 2013-2014 season, and again in 2013-2014 with second place for the UTB Bravo Opera’s production of Die Zauberflöte.

“We are really thankful for the financial support of our School of Music (Dr. Kurt Martinez) and College of Fine Arts (Dean Steven Block) administration, as well as the logistical support provided by the Deputy Provost’s Office in arranging the use of the TSC Arts Center,” said Dr. Daniel Hunter-Holly, associate professor of Voice and Opera with the UTRGV School of Music.

Compton and Hunter-Holly will attend the NOA conference in New Orleans next month to network on their grant project, “Transformations: Sing Your Story,” and will accept the award in person on behalf of their students.

“We will be able to generate ideas about our grant, but we’ll also be able to get feedback from the judges, so it’s an opportunity to bring back comments and suggestions,” Compton said. “It will be great to know what to improve and build upon from the work we’ve been doing.”

ABOUT UTRGV
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.

MEDIA CONTACTS
Amanda.Taylor01@utrgv.edu
Senior Writer / 956-665-7995

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications 956-665-2742