CSUN Opera La Boheme Cast

The California State University, Northridge Opera Theater enjoys a long-standing reputation as one of the finest university opera programs in the United States. Currently the opera program is under the direction of Chair of Vocal Arts and Opera Hugo Vera and Music Director Mercedes Juan. We take great pride in exposing our students to a number of stage directors with vast expertise in stage directing and acting. Most recently our productions have been directed by Johsua Wentz, Matthew Haney, Maurice Godin, Ray Saar, Garry Lennon and Eli Villanueva. This tradition of excellence was set n motion under the 30 year directorship of David Scott and former opera directors David Aks and John Roscigno.

The CSUN Opera program puts on two full productions each year accompanied by the CSUN Symphony Orchestra. Recent seasons have included performance of Kurt Weill's "Street Scene"Puccini's "La Boheme", Mozart "Magic Flute" and a series of new and innovative chamber opera productions.

Opera study at CSUN includes classes in studio voice, diction, repertoire, performance techniques, opera scenes, and of course our full productions. These courses, combined with CSUN's excellent musicianship classes, produce performers who are musically advanced, vocally healthy, physically and emotionally centered and skilled at a naturalistic style of acting that is the hallmark of CSUN's opera productions.

Graduates of the CSUN Opera Theater have gone on to major national and international careers. Prominent alumni include soprano Carol Vaness, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, tenor Beau Palmer and soprano Sarah Joy Heerema. Our own Shigemi Matsumoto Recital Hall, where we perform our chamber operas, is named after CSUN alumna and international opera star, soprano Shigemi Matsumoto. CSUN opera students have gone on to study at such institutions as Juilliard, University of Southern California, Boston University and the San Francisco Conservatory.

Opera Course study

Performance Techniques

The first course in our opera sequence, Performance Techniques introduces ways to utilize the face, body and voice in healthy, coordinated ways. The class begins with group exercises for the face and body, as well the powerful technique of centering. Using their own repertoire, each individual learns skills to release body tension, focus their energy and tap into their own creative impulses. The course culminates in an original production that is created by the students, utilizing classical repertoire and improvised dialogue.

Opera Workshop

Students are assigned roles in operatic scenes in order to develop their abilities as singer/actors in an ensemble interacting with others on stage. Scenes are chosen from a variety of compositional periods. They are staged and performed in their original language on the CSUN campus and throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

Primary focus is placed on the following aspects the singer/actor's craft:

  • Role preparation/research
  • Proper foreign language diction
  • Dramatic /musical choices
  • Stagecraft
  • Professionalism

Advanced Opera Performances

The CSUN Opera Theater presents two fully staged productions each year. These are produced in collaboration with the award-winning CSUN Theatre Department which provides full sets and costumes for every production.Repertoire is carefully chosen to highlight the strengths and abilities of students. A general master plan is followed to provide a wide variety of stylistic experiences, including Baroque, Classical, Bel Canto, Romantic, Contemporary and Musical Theater. Auditions area held at the end of each semester for the following semester's production. CSUN Opera currently focuses and a major standard production each year and a semester focusing on chamber opera and new and diverse works.


An integral part of the Vocal Arts area at CSUN is the lyric diction curriculum. A sequence of three courses emphasize correct lyric diction for the English, Italian, German and French languages. In addition, students are provided with a thorough knowledge of the International Phonetic Alphabet, providing them with the tools to transcribe texts in nearly all languages in the repertoire. Each course emphasizes a comprehensive academic understanding of the course material as well as its application through frequent in-class performances of art song and operatic repertoire.

Literature and Pedagogy Classes

Study vocal or choral literature from the Baroque to the 21st century. Study various approaches to teaching in pedagogy classes.

CSUN Opera La Boheme Cast
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