Rutgers Amps Up Opera Studies

The Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University looks to expand its opera program.

Mason Gross student Eileen Cooper performs Flora in a fall 2010 production.
Photo by Larry Levanti.

Vocal students at Rutgers will no longer have to look elsewhere for intensive opera training. This fall, the Mason Gross School of the Arts is formalizing and expanding its existing program, hiring additional faculty, adding courses and broadening its performance slate to establish the new Opera Institute at Rutgers.

The expanded program was made possible by a bequest from the late Victoria J. Mastrobuono, a Rutgers alumna who also served on the Mason Gross Advancement Council. “She was a vibrant woman with a deep love of opera and theater,” says Pam Gilmore, director of the new institute.

Gilmore, who will be celebrating 10 years with the school this year, says the curriculum is getting a dramatic tune-up. For the first time, the school will be offering specific courses for singers. “Before, the students were taking mostly generalized music studies classes,” she says. While the Opera Institute is not yet offering a performance degree in opera, it is working toward accreditation. Gilmore thinks it can happen “within the next two years.”

For now, the faculty is bolstering its performance schedule, adding two productions this academic year, beginning with Benjamin Britten’s The Beggar’s Opera, November 18 at 8 pm and November 20 at 2 pm at Nicholas Music Center in New Brunswick.

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