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USD Opera recipient of national award

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota Opera’s spring 2012 production of “Dido and Aeneas” was awarded third prize in the National Opera Association's 2011-12 Opera Production Competition.

Directed by Tracelyn Gesteland, D.M.A., assistant professor of voice/opera, “Dido and Aeneas” featured a mythic queen, her lover and an evil Sorceress bent on revenge. Musical conductor for the production was David Holdhusen, Ph.D., assistant professor of music and director of choral activities at USD. Rebecca Hebda, a sophomore from Yankton, S.D., was the choreographer.

Entries in the competition were judged based on videotaped performances, and a statement of the director’s concept and artistic choices. Universities were divided into five categories, including production budget, size of overall music program and the level of vocal training of the cast members. Recent past winners of this award include the University of Colorado at Boulder and the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati.

“For our opera program to receive an honor bestowed upon some of the most esteemed opera programs in the country speaks to the level of talent here at USD,” Gesteland said. “To receive recognition on a national level is a huge achievement for everyone involved in this production.”Since 1955, NOA has worked nationally to promote appreciation of opera and music theatre as well as educational opportunities for those studying the craft, with the goal of improving the scope and quality of opera nationwide. The NOA Opera Production Competition is open to all small regional opera companies in the United States and all college and university opera programs.

Annually, USD Opera presents a main stage opera in addition to children’s outreach performances. In 2013, USD Opera will perform Menotti’s “The Medium,” April 19- 20, at Aalfs Auditorium in Slagle Hall.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News