Micro-Operas breaking traditional norms


By Lilian Tran
Student Writer, CHASS Marketing & Communications

Sometimes good things come in small packages. Dana Kaufman, Visiting Assistant Professor in Music Composition, proved that last month with “An Evening of Micro-Operas: A Workshop Performance,”performed on December 6 and featuring six mini-operas in the span of 90 minutes.

The performance was part of a quarter-long seminar for graduate students,“Graduate Composition Seminar: Creating Micro-Operas,"that explored and pushed the boundaries of more traditional opera. The culminating performance featured a multitude of operatic genres, such as rock opera, to works that included electronics, to bel canto opera.

Mark Inchoco, a Ph.D. student in musicology who participated in Kaufman’s micro-opera class, found the experience rewarding. “What I loved about being in the class and conducting my classmates’ works is that we’re able to take a high-art form like opera, which is popularly thought of as an elitist form of art, and do opera in our own stories and music,” he said. “To have this opportunity to do opera in a DIY, even punk way, but with exceedingly talented singers and composers was a real joy for me and for the audience.”

Inchoco and Kaufman’s other micro-opera students worked very hard as librettists, composers, conductors, performers, and producers to create these new works during fall quarter. Their final pieces were performed by professional opera singers who helped make the projects come to life.

“I was so proud of these students,” Kaufman said. “They worked incredibly hard in such a short amount of time and they really gave it their all. I was thrilled to see them come through and happy to see that they had successful performances. I hope they continue to write for voice.”

Kaufman received her Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Composition as a Dean's Fellow at University of Miami Frost School of Music and will be teaching an undergraduate composition seminar in the spring.Kaufman has been a Fulbright Fellow and four-time American Prize honoree in addition to being the recipient of numerous other awards; her compositions have been heard throughout North America and Europe.

Kaufman continues to challenge the norms of traditional opera. On Wednesday, February 6, Kaufman will discussand present excerpts from Opera Kardashian, a one-act opera about tragedy and the human condition as told through the infamous, Los Angeles-based Kardashian clan which Kaufman wrote. The presentationwill take place at noon in the Music Rehearsal Hall, ARTS 157, and is free and open to the public.


Wednesday@Noon Lecture with Dana Kaufman

Dr. Dana Kaufman will discuss the creation of the role of Caitlyn Jenner - the pop culture icon and Olympic decathlete who came out as trans in 2015 - in Kaufman's Opera Kardashian, a one-act opera.

February 6, 2019
Wednesday, 12:10 – 1:00 P.M.
Music Rehearsal Hall, ARTS 157

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