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U of M Opera Wins Top Honor in National Competition University News
For release: November 23, 2009

For press information, contact Carol Morse, 901-678-2279

The University of Memphis Opera at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music has won first place in its category in the National Opera Association’s Production Competition for the 2008 production of Hansel and Gretel.

Each year the NOA selects winners in five categories, based on the production budget and size of the program. The competition is judged by a panel of opera professionals who review videos of the entered productions with no knowledge of which opera companies submitted them. The productions are critiqued on vocal performance, dramatic quality, stage direction, set, lighting and costumes.

RenÉe Clair as the Witch and Maggie Malone as Hansel
Renée Clair as the Witch and
Maggie Malone as Hansel
The production of Hansel and Gretelused rising accounts of homelessness as its basis. In this version, “home” was under a bridge in a decaying urban area. The forest was a deserted bus terminal where the homeless had been herded onto a bus to get rid of them. Hansel and Gretel missed the bus and had to wait in the frightening environment until dawn. The witch, a creature who fed on children to maintain her beauty and youth, lured the children back to a deserted warehouse on the outskirts of town.

Faculty member Copeland Woodruff directed the opera and Mark Ensley, director of opera studies, was conductor and music director. The production starred Trisha Phillips as Gretel, Maggie Malone as Hansel and Renée Clair as the witch. Matthew Strampe designed the set and lighting and Michael Montgomery was costume director.

The National Opera Association was founded in 1955 to promote a greater appreciation of opera. Its membership extends to the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia. Woodruff will accept the award at the NOA’s annual convention and will also give a presentation on the Viewpoints acting method.

The Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis offers Bachelor’s through Doctoral degrees in 29 areas of concentration. The School has the distinction of being Tennessee’s only doctoral degree-granting program in music.

We are dedicated to preparing students for careers in music by instilling in them the importance of thorough and thoughtful preparation in all musical endeavors and by engaging them in a comprehensive learning experience. We punctuate study with a wide variety of performance opportunities within the School, the community and internationally. This total immersion approach is realized by faculty members who have active careers in performance, recording and publishing – experience that fosters truth and integrity in music.

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