Gesteland, a native of Horicon, Wis., will work with distinguished stage directors and conductors from the Metropolitan Opera and Juilliard School of Music during the opera festival, June 1 through June 21, at Georgia State University in Atlanta. As one of three directing interns, Gesteland is looking forward to working with world class opera talent.

"It's one of the premier summer festivals," says Gesteland, who is in her first year at USD after teaching at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. "What I learn, I can bring home and share with our students who are passionate about music, especially opera."

The artistic staff at Harrower includes artistic director David Grabarkewitz, a long time resident stage director for the New York City Opera; Reed Woodhouse of The Juilliard School of Music, New England Conservatory and Chautauqua Opera; Copeland Woodruff of the University of Memphis, Oberlin Conservatory and New York City Opera; and W. Dwight Coleman, current Harrower general director, stage director for Italy’s La Musica Lirica, and director of the Georgia State School of Music.

Gesteland's role at the three-week workshop includes directing emerging artists in operatic scenes, teaching acting and movement classes, stage managing, and assisting the artistic staff. She hopes to use her experience from Harrower to teach students at The U, as well as other students passionate about opera, during the first-ever South Dakota Vocal Arts Festival on the USD campus this summer. Gesteland will serve as the festival’s Co-Director along with Rick Piersall, professor of voice at The U.

"I'm hoping our festival develops into a national festival, like the Harrower Opera Workshop," said Gesteland, a mezzo-soprano who has performed on stage in operas and musical theatre since her youth. "It's something we can aspire to."

In addition to a busy summer filled with workshops, Gesteland, Piersall, and the USD Department of Music will collaborate with the Akron (Iowa) Opera House to produce the department's first full opera, "Amahl and the Night Visitors," this December.

"This is very exciting, from the vocal arts festival to the production in December," she explained, "We're thrilled to be able to do these things as a department and for our students."

"Amahl and the Night Visitors" is scheduled to bow Dec. 4 at the Akron Opera House. The cast will feature a mixture of USD students, community members as well as members of the faculty at The U. Fall auditions, according to Gesteland, will be open to everyone.

For more information about Gesteland, including contact information, please go to To learn more about the South Dakota Vocal Arts Festival, July 22 through Aug. 1, or to register for the festival, please visit

A photograph of Gesteland is available for download at,

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