Vocal Studies

Vocal Studies Curriculum

Program Requirements

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Students in the voice program take courses in music theory and aural skills each semester until all requirements are met. You will learn the necessary vocal and musicianship techniques to enhance your performance readiness, style, presentation, and speech. Some students coach recital material or explore the French and German Art Song repertoire.

Other performance opportunities include oratorio, lieder, art song, contemporary and early music literatures, and choral music. You might consider joining such vocal music ensembles as the Oberlin College Choir, the Musical Union, and the Collegium Musicum. Voice students also perform regularly in student recitals and present 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.

Opera Theater

Opera Theater students take weekly classes that cover:

  • fundamentals of acting for singers, emphasizing techniques of body movement through exercise and pantomime
  • preparation of opera scenes
  • character development, with emphasis on learning period styles and acting techniques unique to opera
  • opera stage direction
  • stage management

Students may also take courses in directing, stage management, costume design, stage design, theater sound, and theater management offered by the theater and dance programs in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students enrolled in various opera classes also perform in a program of opera scenes presented each semester. Special programs are sometimes presented off campus and in the community, such as the Oberlin Summer Theater Festival.

Oberlin Opera Theater presents two major productions with orchestra each year, in addition to a small-scale opera that is usually produced during winter term. Recent shows have included La finta giardiniera, Albert Herring, Street Scene, Turn of the Screw, and Il mondo della luna.