UNT Opera and Choral Ensembles


MUEN ensembles include: UNT Opera, Vox Aquilae, Mariachi Aguilas, Vocal Jazz, and NOVA.

MULB laboratories (classical voice) include: A Cappella choir, Concert Choir, Camerata, Chorale, University Singers, and Grand Chorus.  

Students enrolled in MUAM and MUAC voice lessons should consult with their studio teacher before accepting multiple choir (MULB and/or MUEN) assignments.  

Undergraduate Students - Labs and Ensembles 

All undergraduate vocal performance and choral music education students must complete a choir placement audition for the academic year, and participate in a choir determined by the choral studies faculty through the eighth semester of study.  BM in Music Composition and BA students may satisfy this requirement with classical choir or another lab.  BA students are required to complete six semesters of ensemble participation rather than eight semesters.

Students will remain in the ensemble into which they placed for the entire academic year, pending the ensemble director’s approval or graduation.  

Beginning with the ninth semester, assuming the mandated eight semesters of auditioned choral MULB participation has been completed for the degree, vocal performance majors may also enroll in one of the following MULB/MUEN to fulfill the MULB requirement, pending approval of the director for each lab or ensemble: 

A Cappella                     Accompanying               Concert Choir                 Mariachi Aguilas            NOVA ensemble            UNT Opera                    University Singers           Vox Aquilae                    Vocal Jazz 

For the purposes of planning, students returning for a ninth semester will be asked, at the end of the eighth semester, to notify the Director of Choral Studies if they do not plan to return to their current auditioned choir.

Graduate Vocal Performance Majors - Labs and Ensembles

Two credits of ensemble (MUEN) and one credit of a lab (MULB) are required of all MM vocal performance majors.  MM students may substitute, with the approval of the ensemble director, two credits of Vox Aquilae for the one credit MULB requirement. 

DMA students on a College of Music scholarship are eligible for zero credit for MULB/MUEN.  After the MULB/MUCM/MUEN requirements have been met, students either register for MULB/MUCM/MUEN for elective credit or they may elect to register for zero credit. Doctoral students without a College of Music scholarship are eligible for zero credit by petition only.   GAC - Voice students are required to have 2-4 total credits of MUEN in order to receive their certificate. 

Standard Leaves of Absence from Choir Rehearsals for Opera Roles and Degree Recitals 

The standard excused leave of absence from choir rehearsals for voice majors (undergraduate and graduate) performing leading opera roles with UNT Opera is two weeks (the week leading into tech weekend through the end of the first performance week.)  

The standard excused leave of absence from choir rehearsals for a degree recital (senior or graduate) will be three days:  the day of the recital, and two days prior.  (Examples:  If the recital falls on a Saturday, the excused days will be Thursday and Friday.   If the recital falls on a Wednesday, the excused days will be Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.) 

The standard excused leave of absence from choir rehearsal for a junior recital (Performance or Concentration students) is one day (the day of the recital.)   

Students must inform their choir director at the earliest possible time about their recital date.  At the beginning of each semester, the choral directors may release a list of “blackout dates” leading up to performances which will not be subject to the excused leave of absence policy.  Students should avoid scheduling a recital during those blackout dates, as they will not receive the standard leave of absence for their recital if they book the recital during the blackout dates.  These dates will be e-mailed to applied voice instructors and included in the syllabus. 

Grand Chorus (spring semester only)  

Rehearsals for Grand Chorus repertoire will generally take place during regular Tuesday choir times throughout the spring semester, and Monday-Friday for each choir, after their individual spring concert has been performed.  

Alongside the two dress rehearsals of performance week, there will typically be up to two Tuesday evening rehearsals, post-spring break.  Please see the 2024 schedule that follows.  

MM students fulfilling their MULB requirement through Grand Chorus will be required to begin rehearsing with A Cappella Choir during their daily 1:00-1:50 rehearsals mid-semester. The specific start date and detailed calendar for the Grand Chorus project will be e-mailed to those students by the Dr. Hightower at the beginning of the spring semester. 

MM students may also fulfill their MULB requirement by serving a year-long commitment to Vox Aquilae, with the approval of the ensemble director.

2024 Grand Chorus Schedule:

Monday, March 25th:  Grand Chorus rehearsals begin, Monday-Friday, 1:00 - 1:50 p.m. 

Tuesday evening Grand Chorus rehearsals (no 1:00 rehearsal on these days):

Tuesday, April 2 6:00-8:00 pm

Tuesday, April 9 6:00-8:00 pm

Tuesday, April 16 6:00-8:00 pm

Combined Chorus/Soloists/Orchestra rehearsals:
Sunday, April 21 (7-10) 
Tuesday, April 23 (7-10)
Performance: Wednesday, April 24, 2024 7:30 p.m.   Call time announced closer to the event.  

UNT OPERA SYLLABUS - MUEN 3040/5040 - Spring 2024 

Jonathan Eaton
E-Mail: jonathan.eaton@unt.edu
Office: 145 Murchison
Office Hours: M, W, 3:00 – 3:45

Stephanie Rhodes Russell
E-Mail: stephanie.russell@unt.edu

Office: 146 Murchison
Office Hours: M 11:45 – 12:45, by appointment

Willem Van Schalkwyk
E-Mail: willem.vansschalkwyk@unt.edu
Office: 143 Murchison
Office Hours: M 2:30 – 3:30, by appointment

An ensemble course providing intensive training and performing experience in opera.

Course Schedule
UNT Opera Theater’s regular schedule is as follows:
Monday 3:45-6:100 and 7:00-10:00
Wednesday 3:45-5:45
Thursday 3:15-6:00 and 7:00-9:30
Friday 2:15-6:15
There are a number of additional rehearsals. See Master Calendar

Course Policies
The following may result in your being removed from your assigned role:
A. Failure to learn music, text, or staging satisfactorily
B. Failure to make appropriate vocal progress
C. Failure to honor commitments to the schedule.
Goals/Course Objectives
Expand the young singing artists’ skills to help them become fully-rounded opera artists.

Principals as a rule must purchase own scores for operas, chorus parts will be provided.

Evaluation/Grading Criteria
Your final grade will be computed as follows:
•    1. Performance level 40%
•    2. Progress 20%
•    3. Attendance and Promptness 20%
•    4. Crew work 20%

Attendance Expectations
More than two unexcused absences will drop grade by one level.

Students are expected to attend class meetings regularly and to abide by the attendance policy established for the course. It is important that you communicate with the professor and the instructional team prior to being absent, so you, the professor, and the instructional team can discuss and mitigate the impact of the absence on your attainment of the course learning goals. Please inform the professor and instructional team if you are unable to attend class meetings because you are ill, in mindfulness of the health and safety of everyone in our community. Contact the UNT COVID Team at COVID@unt.edu for guidance on actions to take due to symptoms, pending or positive test results, or potential exposure.

If you are feeling unwell, please stay at home, and if you are feeling slightly unwell, please wear a mask! Otherwise, we are back in business singing without masks as usual… anyone who wants to wear one is welcome to, of course. Our doors are always open to you if you have any concerns. 
We have an exciting program lined up for you, which includes three mainstage productions – Cendrillon, La Rondine and Hänsel und Gretel - and the Scenes Program, which this year will be a workshop of a new opera by Lisa DeSpain called That Hell-Bound Train. 

Mainstage Production one:        Cendrillon by Massenet    

Embargo period (no absences allowed) begins Fri Oct 20
Dress Rehearsal weekend:        Oct Sat 28, Sun 29 
Final Dress rehearsal (7:00 PM)    Oct Tues 31 
Performances    (7:30 PM)        Nov 3, 5 (Sun matinee 3:00 PM),10, 11        

Scenes Workshop:        That Hell-bound Train by Lisa DeSpain (world premiere) 

Embargo period (no absences allowed) begins Fri 19 Jan 
Performance:                Jan Sat 27, 7:30pm (tba 7:00pm)  

Mainstage Production two:        La Rondine by Puccini

Embargo period (no absences allowed) begins Fri 15 Feb
Dress Rehearsal weekend:        Feb Sat 24, Sun 25 at 5:30
Final Dress Rehearsal (7:00 PM)    Feb Tues 27
Performances    (7:30 PM)        Feb Thurs 29 - March 3 (Sun mat 3:00 PM)

Mainstage Production three:        Hänsel und Gretel by Humperdinck

Embargo period (no absences allowed) begins Thurs April 4
Dress Rehearsal weekend:        April Sat 13, 14 at 5:30
Final Dress Rehearsal (7:00 PM)     April 16
    Performances                April 18 – 21 (Sun matinee 3:00 PM)        
Schedules, Non-Availabilities (N/As) for rehearsals or performances and commitment to the program: We try to be flexible and accommodate an individual’s conflicts and other class schedules as best we can.  However, for the benefit of all students involved in our productions, we want to set out some guidelines for participation:
Those cast in named roles should not request recurring NAs of more than 2 hours per week during staging periods.
Rehearsal schedules: We will share with you the complete schedule for rehearsal times for each production in advance of each term, including regular and extra production week rehearsals, in our ‘Master Calendar’. These will be the times you are expected to commit to, if you accept an assignment in an opera. If you anticipate major clashes with rehearsals, don’t accept the opera assignment! Prior to auditions, you can, if you wish, indicate which operas you are interested in, and those you know you cannot commit to.  
Standard, regular weekly rehearsal times: 

•    Mondays 3:45-10:00pm (1 hour dinner break scheduled around 6:00-7:00pm) 
•    Wednesdays 3:45-5:45pm 
•    Thursdays 3:15-9:30pm (1 hour dinner break scheduled around 6:00-7:00pm) 
•    Fridays 2:15-6:15pm 
•    There are additional Saturday & Sunday rehearsals over the course of the season, usually for the two weekends prior to opening nights of mainstage shows, and additional final evening dress rehearsals.  These will be listed on the Master Calendar.  

Clashing classes: You need to be responsible to sign up for (non-opera) classes, lesson times, and coaching times that don’t clash with standard opera times for a show in which you are cast in a role of any size. You should not accept a solo role while having a clashing class.  For opera chorus assignments (as opposed to solo roles) rehearsal schedules are much less intensive, and we plan to list chorus rehearsals in advance also in the Master Calendar. These tend to be on a Monday and Friday from 4:00 – 6:00, and on a Wednesday from 3:45-5:45 - but equally, please don’t accept a chorus assignment if you cannot make the rehearsals! Please speak first with the Opera TAs, then if you need to, with the opera faculty if you have questions about class scheduling.
Church choirs: We understand many of you rely on singing in church choirs to earn necessary income.  We support this and will never call Sunday morning rehearsals, and as a rule will only call Wednesday evening rehearsals for main productions during tech and performance weeks.   If you are in the cast or crew of a show, you are not excused from the Wednesday night dress rehearsal because of a church job or other church obligation. If you are double-cast, you must also attend the Wednesday night dress rehearsal even if your double-cast colleague is scheduled to sing that evening. Please clear this with your church music director as soon as you accept any opera assignment.  Also, please note that Wednesday afternoon rehearsals last until 5:45pm.  You must remain for the entire rehearsal. Please make your dinner/sandwich arrangements between opera and church choir rehearsals so that you can remain in opera rehearsal till 5.45pm.   
Requests for N/As (Non-Availabilities): Requests to be non-available for opera rehearsals must be made a minimum of two weeks in advance in writing to our Rehearsal and Scheduling Coordinator Teaching Assistant (Isaac Carlin).  You should try to apply well before this deadline, however. Please do not commit to another obligation until you have received an official written release.  
The two-week N/A Embargo: In order for final rehearsals for productions to run smoothly for all students, no absences will be agreed (so no ‘Non-Availabilities’ will be granted) from any opera rehearsal for cast, chorus, or crew beginning two weeks before opening night for all productions and continuing until strike of each production (unless these absences are for official Dress Rehearsals and Performances of other school activities such as choir concerts, which take precedence over regular opera rehearsals, and which we work around.) We are calling this two-week period the “Embargo” period. For shows that are not fully staged, such as concert operas or scenes programs, the embargo may be less than two weeks before the show opens.  The embargo dates are listed in the Master Calendar.  

Standard Leaves of Absence from Choir Rehearsals for Lead Opera Roles: The standard excused leave of absence from choir rehearsals for voice majors (undergraduate and graduate) performing leading opera roles with UNT Opera is two weeks (the week leading into tech weekend through the end of the first performance week.)  Cast lists indicate which roles are considered Lead Roles and which are Featured Roles. 

Opera Scholarships: If you are a holder of an opera scholarship, of whatever size, you effectively pledge to be part of the opera program.  If you are unable to observe the participation guidelines above, your opera scholarship will be in jeopardy and may be allocated to someone who is available to participate. Opera scholarship holders are also expected to be a positive role model to our other students in work ethic, attitude, and collegiality. 
Your acceptance: All students receive at the beginning of the year a contract including both casting and crew assignments for the whole year.  Please note that amendments may be made to this contract after the initial acceptance has gone out and throughout the year as the need arises.  You have one week to accept your assignments and turn in your contracts.  When you sign your acceptance of any role assignment for an opera program activity, you are also indicating that you understand and accept the participation guidelines and schedules outlined above.  Undergraduates will be expected to participate in chorus if assigned, unless otherwise decided by opera faculty in conjunction with the voice teacher. If a student is offered a role and chorus assignment, the casting is a package offer and must be accepted or declined as such.

Coaching expectations: Please be quite clear in your minds that you attend your first and all subsequent coachings having done all your requisite homework, having researched and thought about your role, knowing all your notes really well if not perfectly, understanding and having prepared the pronunciation of the text that you sing, word for word, and understanding the text that others on stage around you sing. The coaching sessions are not intended to teach you the notes or the words. That is your job. They are intended to help you become an artist… Failure to meet these expectations may result in you being removed from a role, or put on ‘probation’, which means being removed until you prove yourself worthy of the role.

Off-book expectations: Please be unflinchingly aware that if you accept a role, you pledge to have memorized it and be off-book by the beginning of staging rehearsals, which dates are entered in the Master Calendar. We do not work in staging sessions with students who are not off-book. You also need to have thought deeply about your character: ‘Who am I? What do I want? Why do I want it right now?! Why can’t I get it?!? Failure to meet these expectations may result in you being removed from a role, or put on ‘probation’, which means being removed until you prove yourself worthy of the role.
Opera Directing Class with Prof. Eaton: There is a cap of 7 on the opera directing class. Do be aware that while it is registered as a Fall class, the actual scenes performances take place in January early in the Spring term. 

Opera Crewing Obligations

Rationale: In common with all university opera programs, students are required to assist in a variety of crewing activities, without which productions cannot be mounted. We depend on students to help run our shows; we are grateful for their assistance, acknowledge that there is often a time burden involved, and remind students that there is also an educational advantage in learning the scope of what it takes to put on a production.

The Opera TAs assign students to crews according to the following guidelines:

•    Undergraduates: must sign up for the full year (both terms) for any year they wish to be involved in opera, and do one crew per semester, of deck, props, costume, other technical fields, or (less likely) orchestra support or hospitality.
•    Masters: must sign up for one full year (either first or second year), and for that year do one crew per semester, of deck, props, costume, other technical fields, orchestra support, hospitality, admin or PR; Masters may sign up for an additional full year if they wish to perform in opera and must be available to do at least one crew in one semester only, though they may be asked to do two crews based on need.
•    DMA and Voice GAC (as opposed to Opera GAC): if they wish to be involved in opera, must sign up for at least one full year, and in that year do two crews, likely to be orchestra support, hospitality, admin or PR; in subsequent years may sign up for one term only and crewing will be voluntary.  
•    Opera GAC: must sign up for two crews per year, usually in orchestra support, hospitality, admin or PR.
•    Opera Scholarship holders: must sign up to participate in two crews for each year they hold an opera scholarship whether they are cast in a production or not.

Some crews involve more time than others. For instance the ‘running crews’ in the list below for the first show in the season, which is usually our largest production, may demand more time than the running crews for the last production of the season which is usually our smallest. However for the first production we tend to assign crew responsibilities to those singers cast in the chorus since they are required to be present anyway. 

We try to allocate the less time-consuming crew commitments to those who have been with us longest, and so have already done some crewing for us, or to those who have the most demanding academic schedules – so there is a rough sort of ‘seniority’ factor in making crewing assignments.

Students may register in the beginning of the year a preference for a certain category of crew if they already have pre-existing interest or expertise in a certain area.

Crewing categories: Crewing activities take place in the following categories, with examples in parentheses. Estimated time commitments are listed below each description. We may also assign non-performers - those who have not been cast in a show - to be crew members.
•    Deck Run Crew (scene changing, set up, strike etc.) 
o    Needed for final chorus rehearsals, scene change rehearsals, tech week, all performances and final strike.
o    Usually pulled from chorus members who are already involved in the production, so few ‘extra’ hours are required but the commitment is significant.
•    Props Crew (helping maintain props, running shows, sometimes helping with finding or creation of props)
o    Needed at various times during the rehearsal process (to help create props/set up prop tables/organization), for tech week, and all performances and strike.
o    Usually pulled from chorus members who are already involved in the production, so few ‘extra’ hours are required with the commitment usually similar to that of Deck Run.
•    Costume Crew (helping to find or occasionally build costumes, maintain them, launder them, dress performers, carry out small fixes during performances, assist with quick changes, and strike/clean-up)
o    Must be available tech week and all performances. Sometimes called outside of that time-frame to help with small sewing/creation items. Usually no more than 5 hours outside of tech and performances. For performances, must arrive 1.5 hours before downbeat and stay until everyone is out of costume for the evening. 
o    Usually a mixture of chorus members and non-performers (MM or DMA). We have to have at least 2 non-performers who are uninvolved in the performance for this crew to function efficiently. 
•    Makeup Crew (applying makeup) 

Academic Integrity Standards and Consequences. According to UNT Policy 06.003, Student Academic Integrity, academic dishonesty occurs when students engage in behaviors including, but not limited to cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, forgery, plagiarism, and sabotage. A finding of academic dishonesty may result in a range of academic penalties or sanctions ranging from admonition to expulsion from the University. 

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