Opera Tours Oklahoma Schools

In an effort to introduce talented potential music students to OBU, OBU vocalists are touring Gian Carlo Menotti’s one-act opera, “The Old Maid and the Thief,” to high schools around the state. Directed by Dr. Mark McQuade, OBU assistant professor of music and coordinator of vocal studies, the group debuts their performance today at Choctaw High School.

The cast includes Sarah Stephens, a sophomore vocal performance major from Tulsa, Okla.; Emily Rowland, a senior piano performance with pedagogy emphasis major from Bartlett, Tenn.; Micah Reinhart, a senior vocal studies major from Mooreland, Okla.; Sean Muzljakovich, a junior worship arts major from Bartlesville, Okla.; and Courtney Bryant, a junior vocal performance major from Moore, Okla.

“The Old Maid and the Thief,” a twisted tale of morals, was written and premiered in 1939. It was one of the earliest operas composed specifically for performance on the radio. Menotti (1911-2007) was a Pulitzer-prize winning Italian-American composer and librettist.

McQuade said the group will perform at Putnam City North High School on Jan. 28, 2011, and Yukon High School on Feb. 11, 2011. Several other area schools have expressed interest in hosting the operatic performance.

At OBU, McQuade teaches applied voice, vocal pedagogy and music theater, and he directs the operas. As a performer, McQuade is at home in opera, musical theatre, concert and recital alike. He has performed in many operas, often singing leading roles that include Horace Tabor in “The Ballad of Baby Doe” (2005), Guglielmo in “Cosi fan tutte” (2002), Belcore in “L’elisir d’amore” (2001), Mr. Peachum in “The Threepenny Opera” (2003), Bob in “The Old Maid and the Thief” (2004), the title role in “Tartuffe” (2004), and Ko-Ko in “The Mikado” (2004). Other credits include appearances as Dr. Malatesta in “Don Pasquale” with the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival in Fairbanks, Alaska (2004); the roles of Marco in “Gianni Schicchi” and Sciarrone in “Tosca,” as well as the Baker and Rapunzel’s Prince in “Into the Woods Jr.,” all with the Natchez Festival of Music in Natchez, Miss. (2005); and the roles of Marco in “Gianni Schicchi” (2004) and Fiorello in “Il barbiere di Siviglia” (2005) as well as being a featured soloist for “Opera on the River” with the Como Opera Guild in Como, Miss.

McQuade has won numerous awards and scholarships for singing including the McCormick Opera Scholarship (2003-04) and Outstanding Graduate Opera Student Award (2004) at the University of Mississippi; the Ruth Cogan Memorial Scholarship (1999-2000) and the McGregor Oresman Scholarship (1998–2000) from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music; and first prize in the MacAllister Youth Opera Awards (1996). While at the Oberlin Conservatory, McQuade was a pupil of the world-renown vocal pedagogue, Richard Miller. He worked closely with Miller as a private voice student and a laboratory assistant in the Otto B. Schoepfle Vocal Arts Center, as well as assisting with Miller’s summer vocal pedagogy workshops. This close relationship has lead to McQuade’s continued interest in voice research.

McQuade currently serves as the Oklahoma state governor for the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and has held that post since 2008. He continues an active performance career along with his teaching and directing. Most recently McQuade served as the musical director for Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” with the Shawnee Little Theater (2010). He will be directing Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” with the OBU Opera Theatre in early 2011.

For more information about the opera or OBU vocal studies, contact McQuade at (405) 878-2324. For more information about the OBU Division of Music, click here.