School of Music

Opera students and Associate Professor Cynthia Stokes attended the National Opera Association Conference in January in Tempe, Arizona.

The trip was made possible through funding from the School of Music and the College of Fine Arts Small Grants Program.

The National Opera Association promotes excellence in opera education and pedagogy through support of a diverse community of opera educators and professionals.  

The grant made it possible for students to present a new opera, participate in conference workshops, do presentations, and meet faculty, students and composers from around the country who share a love for opera. 

“It was transformative,” said Cynthia Stokes, Amelia T. Rieman Endowed Chair, Opera Theater. “It was an experience that went beyond even my expectations.”

Opera students participated in national conference
Undergraduate soprano Macy Halverson with composer Lori Laitman.

Undergraduate student Macy Halverson was nominated to join the Student Board of Directors for the National Opera Association. She also attended sessions on topics of new works, opera outreach, starting an opera community, and how to develop her skills as a musician. 

“The conference was very fun and provided lots of opportunities to meet and network with various professionals,” Halverson said. “I am working on starting a new chapter of the National Opera Association at the University of Arizona in partnership with the Opera Director Cynthia Stokes.” 

Additionally, undergraduate student Stefan Vikingur captivated an audience with a 20-minute solo performance. He is currently being recruited by the University of Southern California, the Manhattan School, and Bravard for its graduate and summer programs. 

“Performing a 20-minute solo chamber opera to a room full of opera experts was definitely intimidating…Being the only person on stage genuinely forced me to step out of my comfort zone as a performer and allow myself to be completely vulnerable with the text and music,” Vikingur said. 

Opera students participated in national conference
From left … Cynthia Stokes, DMA soprano Beth Jargstorf, celebrated composer Lori Laitman, undergraduate soprano Katheryn Cooper and  undergraduate tenor Stefan Vikingur on the plaza at the National Opera Association Conference.

Vikingur is currently singing in a masterclass with Cecilia Duarte for the Tucson Desert Song Festival for the spring opera. He’s also working on singing a new “horror opera” by Michael Vince and he’s the assistant artistic director of Desert Voices Chorus, a community chorus in Tucson. 

The Opera students were able to present a new opera, participate and present in workshops, and meet faculty, students, and composers from all over the country.