Dramatic Vocal Arts


Under the directorship and baton of Professor Chris Engbretson, the Dramatic Vocal Arts program offers students a rich experience with opera performance and production, along with an in-depth integration of singing, stage movement, and character development. The Dramatic Vocal Arts ensemble presents one production each year with costumes, stage setting, and orchestral accompaniment.

Recent productions include Dido and Aeneas, Hotel Casablanca, Suor Angelica, Die Fledermaus, Cosi Fan Tutte, Our Town, Hansel und Gretel, Carmen, The Secret Garden, and Gianni Schicchi.

The ensemble is open to Willamette University students by audition.

"Willamette's Dramatic Vocal Arts program is thrilled to present its 2018 opera scenes production, Love & Lies. The evening will feature two complete works - Menotti's The Telephone, and Barber's A Hand of Bridge, as well as scenes from two beloved operas, Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

Love & Lies focuses on four highly varied depictions of love and relationships, some simple and beautiful, and others that are complicated, and messy. Each scene in the evening's program will be accompanied by an orchestra under the direction of Chris Engbretson.

The Telephone tells the story of Ben, a young man in the early 20th century, who's finally gathered the courage to propose to his girlfriend, Lucy. Unfortunately, Lucy's too excited about her new telephone for Ben to pop the question.

A Hand of Bridge follows two married couples as they settle into a weekly game of cards while also secretly revealing their innermost thoughts and fantasies. Needless to say, there's a lot more going on than just a simple game of bridge.

Act I, Scene II from The Ballad of Baby Doe includes beautiful ensemble writing in addition to two cherished arias: The Willow Song, and Warm as the Autumn Light. The scene highlights the very first moments of the budding love between Elizabeth "Baby" Doe and mining mogul Horace Tabor. The material is all the more fascinating given that the opera is based on an entirely true story from the mountains of 19th-century Colorado.

The final scene comes from Act I of The Marriage of Figaro. In this excerpt, Marcellina and Susanna have a duel of words, and poor Cherubino has to clumsily hide once more before the Count discovers him. The culminating Cosa sento trio is one of the best loved small-ensemble works in the opera repertoire.