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The USD Opera offers students the opportunity to bring music and drama to life on the stage. The multiple national award-winning program trains performers to become believable and compelling singing-actors in operatic literature from the Baroque period through the contemporary lyric theater.

Every year, USD Opera produces a minimum of two productions. The fall production consists of a children’s opera, one-act or scenes program and includes outreach opportunities in the region. In the spring, USD Opera produces a full main stage opera with orchestra.

Opera students find out who they are as artists as they receive individual attention and personalized guidance from dedicated, highly skilled and acclaimed faculty. Find your voice, unlock your potential and discover your passion for a lifetime.

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View Photos of Past Performances


Auditions for the fall production occur in the first week of classes in the fall semester. Spring production auditions take place in early December. For most of the auditions, an aria or song of your choice is requested and a pianist is provided. Audition information is posted in the Fine Arts building, but the auditions are open to all students. If cast, students must register for 1 credit of Opera Workshop (MUEN 107/307/707).


Rehearsals take place from 2 - 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, however, for some roles, M-W-F or T-Th availability may be acceptable at the discretion of the director. Additional rehearsals may be required in the evening and on weekends, particularly in the spring semester.

Upcoming Productions 2020-2021:

  • "CoOPERAtion COVID-19,” a virtual original comedy featuring the music of Mozart, Puccini, Menotti and more. Directed by Dana Carlson-Kottke, M.M.
  • “Zoom Speed Dating Tonight” takes a funny, yet poignant look at the challenges of human connection during a global pandemic. Join us for a virtual date night as a motley crew of characters search for love, sex and everything in between. Music and Words by Michael Ching. Based on a concept by Dean Anthony. Directed by Tracelyn Gesteland, D.M.A. 
  • "Opera Pop-Ups," A new series of live outreach concerts featuring the outstanding singers of USD Opera, along with a chamber orchestra of USD’s finest players, in performances of your favorite arias and duets in the great outdoors!  (Weather permitting) 
    • Friday, April 30
      • Noon-1pm   
        USD Campus between Old Main and Slagle Hall
      • 5:00-6pm
        Downtown Vermillion on the Platz (corner of Main and Market St.)
    • Saturday, May 1
      • Noon-1pm
        Levitt at the Falls (504 N. Phillips Ave.- Sioux Falls)
      • 3:00-4pm
        McKennan Park Bandshell (1400 S. 3rd Ave.- Sioux Falls)
    • Sunday, May 2
      • 2:00-3pm
        Riverside Park Amphitheater (200 Levee St.- Yankton)

For questions or more information, please contact:

Name Department & Office Contact
Tracelyn Gesteland
  • Professor, Voice/Opera
W M Lee Center for Fine Arts 127

The USD Opera has won national awards and received recognition every year since 2011:

National Awards

 2019 The Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music Finalist
 2019 The American Prize in Opera Performance Semifinalist
 2018 The American Prize in Opera Performance Semifinalist
 2017 The American Prize in Opera Performance Honorable Mention
2016 The American Prize in Opera Performance Second Place
2015 The American Prize in Opera Performance Semifinalist
2014 The American Prize in Opera Performance Finalist
2013 The American Prize in Opera Performance Second Place
2012 National Opera Association Third Place
2011 National Opera Association’s national convention Featured Performers