UK Opera Theatre

The first opera performed at the University of Kentucky was in 1904. It was a fundraiser for the newly formed Athletic Association! Go figure! The University of Kentucky Opera Theatre began as an organization in 1955 under the direction of voice teacher Phyllis Jenness and former UK Orchestra Director, Phillip Miller. Since then it has risen from relative obscurity to its position today as a Richard Tucker Music Foundation Recommended Opera Training Program, largely because of the boundless energy and vision of its director, Dr. Everett McCorvey.

There are on average 133 students coming from all over the world to study voice and opera performance at UK. We are excited to be at an all-time artistic and academic high. The UK Opera Theatre and Voice program competes with Julliard, Indiana University, Cincinnati Conservatory and Eastman School of Music for students. As evidenced in November 2012’s Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions where UK Students took three of the top six prizes, we are winning! Dr. Everett McCorvey, Producer and Executive Director, credits the success of the program to talented faculty, staff & professional guest artists from across the country working as a team to help students achieve their potential as singers, scholars and citizens.

UK Opera Theatre has attracted national and international attention with the development of the SCRIBE Technology used in our production of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (2011), and amazing collaborations with the San Francisco Merola Program in the World Premiere of Thomas Pasatieri's The Hotel Casablanca (2007) and with the Dicapo Opera Theatre of New York to present the World Premiere of Thomas Pasatieri’s God Bless Us Everyone (2010). UK Opera Theatre was among the first university programs to present the blockbuster musicals The Phantom of the Opera (2012) and Les Misérables (2013). UKOT also presented the University Premiere of Rachel Perlman’s The Little Prince (2005) and André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire (2003). UK Opera Theatre has also collaborated with Chautauqua Opera, The Atlanta Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Sarasota Opera, Central City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Kentucky Opera, and several other opera companies and orchestras. Currently, UKOT is collaborating with Fort Worth Opera on the World Premiere of Libby Larsen’s A Wrinkle in Time. UKOT reached new heights and firmly established itself as one of America’s premier young artist programs with the February 2009 performance of Our Lincoln at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The show was one of the first major national events marking Lincoln’s 200th birthday. Also in 2009, singers from UK Opera Theatre traveled to England and Ireland to perform in the European Jumping and Dressage Championship Gala Celebration at Windsor Castle. Singers from UK Opera Theatre wowed the crowd at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games held in Lexington, KY. Over 500 million people worldwide viewed the Opening Ceremonies, produced by Everett McCorvey. The performance included opera superstar Denyce Graves and UKOT’s own superstars, faculty member and Metropolitan Opera star Cynthia Lawrence and Metropolitan Opera Tenor, UK Artist-in-Residence Gregory Turay as well as Irish Tenor and Alltech Artist-in-Residence Ronan Tynan.

UK Opera Theatre has made four recordings for Albany Records. The Tender Land by Aaron Copland recorded in the Czech Republic with the Bohsulav Martinu Philharmonic in 2002, Kirk Trevor, conducting. The Hotel Casablanca, by Thomas Pasatieri was recorded in 2008; Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss was recorded in 2010, the first English recording in over 50 years, and Thomas Pasatieri’s God Bless Us Everyone was recorded in December 2010, all with the UK Symphony Orchestra, John Nardolillo conducting.

Dr. McCorvey credits a talented faculty that works as a team to help students achieve their potential as singers, scholars and citizens. It includes sopranos Dr. Noemi Lugo, Dr. Angelique Clay, Dr. Elizabeth Packard Arnold, Cynthia Lawrence; bass Dennis Bender, and McCorvey, a tenor. Classical Singer’s 2009 Vocal Coach of the Year Cliff Jackson is our Vocal Coach Emeritus. John Greer, Visiting Professor of Vocal Coaching/Head Coach of Voice and Opera, with Dr. Tedrin Blair Lindsay, Nan McSwain and Bill Cooper are some of the best coaches in the nation. Dr. Jefferson Johnson, Director of Choral Activities, and Dr. Lori Hetzel, Associate Director of Choir & Choral Music Education, complete the voice faculty.

UK Opera Theatre performances take place at the historic Lexington Opera House, an 850 seat road house theatre, in downtown Lexington. McCorvey moved performances there in 1994 because, as he says, “Opera should be performed in an opera house.” Lexington's beautiful and newly renovated facility is the perfect size to accommodate young operatic voices. Students also gain experience working with its professional union crew. Since 1993, UK Opera Theatre has put on It’s a Grand Night for Singing, a grand Broadway-style production at the UK Singletary Center for the Arts in June. It is one of Lexington’s most popular concerts of the year, being hailed as the official kick-off to the summer musical season. Its six performances in the 1,500-seat concert hall are jam-packed and have been so for over 20 years!

University of Kentucky Opera
Everett McCorvey, Director
Joan Rue, Program Coordinator
Schmidt Vocal Arts Center
412 Rose St
Lexington Kentucky 40508
859-257-9331
ukopera@gmail.com