By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The National Opera Association (NOA) has honored all three operas from Oklahoma City University’s 2015-16 season with awards in its annual production competition. OCU’s production of “Jackie O” garnered first place in Division I for the Bass School of Music’s March 2016 production.
David Herendeen, head of the OCU-based Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company directed all three winning shows.
Robert Hansen, executive director of NOA, said it was unusual for one university to win three of the national awards, and unprecedented for one director to be honored for three productions in a single season.
“We are thrilled that the continued standard of excellence from our students, faculty and staff has been recognized with these national honors,” said Mark Parker, dean of the Bass School of Music. “Our storied opera tradition continues to grow, and we are grateful to be counted among the nation’s best.”
The last company to be honored with triple honors was the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music-University of Cincinnati’s two second places and a third, under three separate directors, in 2010-11.
In addition to “Jackie O,” OCU’s latest winning productions were “Don Pasquale,” presented in November 2015, awarded second place in Division III; and “Evita,” presented in April 2016, awarded third place in Division IV.
Heredeen collaborated with music director Chuck Koslowske on “Jackie O” and with Jan McDaniel on “Don Pasquale” and “Evita.”
The newest awards bring the Bass School of Music’s total National Opera Association honors to five.
OCU won divisional first place awards in 2012-13 for “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” directed by Herendeen and conducted by McDaniel, and with the opera twin bill of “Pagliacci”/ “Gianni Schicchi,” directed by Herendeen and conducted by Benjamin Niles and Matthew Mailman.
The 2015-16 awards will be presented on the final night of the NOA convention themed Fostering Change: Performance and Pedagogy in Opera’s New Millennium. The event will be held at the Fess Parker Hotel in Santa Barbara, CA, January 4-8, 2017.
The NOA convention features performances, panels, workshops, and other continuing-education opportunities for opera educators, professionals, and students. Major activities of the NOA include the encouragement of young artists and composers through competitions, providing performance opportunities, sharing resources for collegiate and regional productions, and through publication of scholarly articles.
Special projects of the NOA include Opera for Youth, the Legacy Project, and the Sacred in Opera.
OCU’s Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company’s 65th season opened by celebrating the 100th birthday of Giacomo Puccini’s lyric opera “La Rondine” with three performances
The season’s first opera was performed in Italian with English supertitles. The Bass School of Music’s fully staged production featured a cast of 38, directed by Karen Coe Miller, and a 51-piece opera orchestra under the direction of Jan McDaniel.
The Company’s season will continue in 2017 with the American opera “Dark Sisters” February 17-19, featuring a week-long residency with composer Nico Muhly.
The Oklahoma City University Performing Arts Ticket Office is located in Edith Kinney Gaylord Center. For more information or to purchase tickets contact 405-208-5227 or okcu.edu/tickets.