Garnett Bruce has had an active directing career at national opera houses including Chicago Lyric, Cleveland, Houston, Dallas, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Wolf Trap, and also abroad in Vancouver and the Teatro San Carlo in Naples.
A Community of Artists and Audience
Opera connects performers and audiences in a shared emotional experience; both are equally important. As this site develops, you will be able to read about the ways in which the Peabody Opera Department brings singers together into a community of artists, where the ability to communicate with an audience is a simple extension of the act of sharing with one another. You can also read about the many performances offered throughout the year, ranging from standard works in a large hall to performances in more intimate settings such as art galleries, cabarets, and schools. We aim to extend the range of opera to include earlier music, musical theater, and new works being presented for the first time. We also aim to cultivate new audiences and extend the range of interest of our established ones. Above all, we ask audiences and performers alike to expect nothing less than a medium which communicates directly with its listeners, in ways that engage the mind and move the heart.
Introduction to the Opera Department
The Peabody Opera Department serves the educational needs of students in the conservatory, while offering a variety of operatic performances to audiences in the Baltimore region. Whether onstage or in the studio, we believe our work reflects what we consider our most valuable quality: that sense of community which creates a close collaboration between students and teachers in the classroom, and brings a tight-knit spirit of ensemble to the stage.
Our public offerings each year range from the two major productions of the Peabody Opera Theatre to the numerous outreach performances of the Opera Outreach program, which brings opera to schools all across Maryland. In addition, the Peabody Chamber Opera presents performances of baroque opera, contemporary opera, and musical theater in a variety of venues such as the Walters Art Gallery and Baltimore’s Theatre Project, besides those in our own auditorium, for a total of around 40 performances annually.
Educationally, the department has two goals: to provide some experience in opera to all voice majors in the school, and to offer the professional training to advanced students that will enable them to find continuing employment when they graduate. Although Peabody has had its share of competition winners (including the Metropolitan Opera and the Moscow Tchaikowsky Competitions), our prime emphasis is less upon the individual star than on working professionals: singers whose preparation and collegiality will win them return engagements after the first are over.
Such singers will have acquired from their voice teachers a solid and flexible technique, musical expressiveness, and vocal stamina. They will be consummate musicians able to read with ease and learn music accurately and quickly. They will have command of at least the principal languages in which operas are sung. They will be adaptable, having performed in the widest possible range of repertoire: not only standard operas, but early music, contemporary opera, and even such musical theater as suits their voices. They will have learned to perform not only on the big stage, but also in conditions where the audience is almost close enough to touch. They will have come to regard opera as a living medium, not only through singing contemporary music but in many cases also collaborating in the creation of new works. Above all, they will have learned to handle themselves responsibly as professionals, in many cases gaining professional experience while still in school.
Eileen Cornett is director of the graduate Vocal Accompanying Program in Collaborative Piano at the Peabody Conservatory and is currently enjoying her twentieth year as a principal faculty coach with Peabody’s Opera Department.
JoAnn Kulesza is presently Interim Chair and Music Director of the Opera Department at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, MD. The Department produces between six and ten performances a year, serving between 85 and 100 singers.
Samuel Mungo has been involved in opera as a director, singer, and teacher for more than 30 years. He has fostered an international reputation as an opera pedagogue, particularly for his skill adding strong acting technique to singers’ vocal skills to create a true opera theater.