Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music Opera Department is a flourishing program involving all voice majors. The school enrolls only 36 singers per school year, allowing for each student to receive specialized individual attention from the internationally renowned opera and voice faculty as well as numerous guests from the professional opera world.
Each student admitted into the program is offered significant performance opportunities. Two fully staged productions are presented every school year with full orchestra, and additionally, scenes programs are presented with piano. All juniors and seniors are enrolled in Opera Workshop and all masters students are enrolled in Advanced Opera Studies which focuses on acting techniques, movement, stage combat, and audition preparation
Intensive language instruction at Rice, paired with Italian language study abroad with the support of the Margaret C. Pack Language Institute for Singers allows students to gain the necessary language skills for a career in opera. Master classes are presented regularly featuring important guest artists through the Aleko Endowed Master Class Series. Recent classes were given by Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, Christine Goerke, Ana María Martínez, Anthony Dean Griffey, Corradina Caporello, Pierre Vallet and Diane Zola.
The Shepherd School Opera Program has had recent finalists and winners in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Additionally, the school has had winners in the Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers, the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, the Richard Tucker Awards, the Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition, the Young Patronesses of the Opera/Florida Grand Opera Voice Competition, the Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition, the Lotte Lenya Competition, the Classical Singer Auditions Plus Vocal Competition, the San Antonio Tuesday Music Club Competition, and the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition.
Singers annually represent the school in various summer apprentice programs such as San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program, the Wolf Trap Opera Program, the Central City Opera Apprentice Program, Glimmerglass Festival Young Artists Program, Opera Theater of St. Louis Gerdine Young Artist Program, Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice Artist Program, Opera Saratoga, Tanglewood Music Center, Brevard Music Center, and Chautauqua Opera Apprentice Program. In addition, recent alumni are members of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Program, the Houston Grand Opera Studio, the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows, the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, the Florida Grand Opera’s Young Artist Studio, the Utah Opera Resident Artist Program, Portland Opera Resident Artist Program, Opera Colorado’s Young Artist Program, the Minnesota Opera Resident Artist Program, the Kentucky Opera Studio Artist Program, and the Academy of Vocal Arts.