The American Prize in Virtual Performance recognizes and rewards the best virtual (remote and streamed) performances made since February of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by ensembles and soloists in the United States based on submitted recordings.

USD Opera submitted its 2021 virtual performance of “Zoom Speed Dating Tonight” and placed third out of 16 finalists.

“I am very proud of our talented and resilient students for stepping outside of the box and creating something so innovative and entertaining in such a difficult time,” said Tracelyn Gesteland, DMA, professor of voice/opera and the Walter A. and Lucy Yoshioka Buhler Endowed Chair.

Out of the 86 arias and ensembles available to use in the production, Gesteland chose 30 that best highlighted the students and arranged the order to create a strong narrative. Gesteland also commissioned Michael Ching, composer of the opera, to write two additional pieces especially for USD.

The virtual production required imaginative filming by Gesteland and students.

“After musical and dramatic coachings over Zoom from the composer and I, the students pre-recorded their vocals to accompaniment tracks, and later, lip-synched to those tracks to record their videos,” Gesteland explained. “A videographer synched the audio and video recordings and put it all together according to my plan for the overall show. Zoom was not actually used in the filming in most cases, so the characters were not reacting to each other in real time -- kind of like filming a movie about a dinosaur without the dinosaur present.”
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