The Division of Vocal Studies includes Voice and Oberlin Opera Theater. Students in this division learn from faculty who have impressive performance and academic achievements. They develop students’ talents through courses in technique, performance readiness, linguistic style, staging, set design, and more.

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Our faculty is comprised of outstanding teacher-performers who are devoted primarily to undergraduate education. They maintain rigorous performance schedules yet provide individual instruction and spend generous amounts of time with their students via lessons, coaching, mentoring, and more.

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Every year, 20 to 30 gifted singers enter degree programs in the conservatory. These students receive weekly private instruction from faculty members with impressive performance and academic attainments, and take courses in pedagogy, performance readiness, musicianship, musical style, diction, and linguistic accuracy.

All students take weekly private lessons with a major teacher and participate in studio classes. Vocal studies students also have a wealth of opportunities to perform with the varied student-led and professional ensembles, choirs, a cappella groups, and other musical troupes that give recitals and concerts during the academic year.

Opera Theater courses include character development, body technique, directing, stage management, and more. Students have opportunities to participate in twice-yearly main-stage operas from the core repertory and Opera Scenes presentations, winter-term productions that feature new works, student-directed productions, and the Oberlin in Italy summer program.

See More About This Division: Voice

See More About This Division: Opera Theater


Curriculum Overview

Students in the Voice program learn the necessary vocal and musicianship techniques to enhance their performance readiness, style, presentation, and speech. They take courses in music theory and aural skills each semester until all requirements are met. All voice majors receive coaching in recital material that explores the French and German art song repertoire.

Other performance opportunities include oratorio, lieder, art song, contemporary and early music literatures, and choral music. Singers perform with large ensembles including the Oberlin College Choir, Musical Union, and Collegium Musicum, and perform regularly in student recitals and in major recitals during their junior and senior years.

Our voice students consistently place in the finals and semifinals in Metropolitan Opera regional and district auditions. They frequently win civic symphony awards and national competitions. Many of our voice students are selected each year to participate in such apprenticeship programs as those sponsored by the Houston, Santa Fe, Minnesota, Michigan, Merola, Zurich, and Metropolitan operas. The conservatory also sponsors brief residencies and master classes, giving students opportunities to work closely with noted musicians. Acclaimed mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne gives a series of master classes each year through the Marilyn Horne Professorship and Residency. The conservatory hosts a competitive audition to select students for this opportunity.

Students can record, play back, and analyze their vocal performances using sophisticated audio and video equipment in the Otto B. Schoepfle Vocal Arts Laboratory, the first laboratory of its kind to be incorporated into a program of vocal instruction in the United States. Named for an ardent supporter of the conservatory, it features high-tech tools for examination of both the function and the timbre of the artistic singing voice.

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