“Zoom Speed Dating Tonight” takes a funny, yet poignant look at the challenges of human connection during a global pandemic. With music and words by Michael Ching, based on a concept by Dean Anthony, the musical styles range from traditionally operatic to musical theatre, cabaret, pop and the Great American Songbook.

USD Opera commissioned Ching, a nationally recognized composer, conductor and music administrator, to write two new songs for the production, which will be premiered for the first time May 1.

Tracelyn Gesteland, D.M.A., professor of voice/opera and the Walter A. and Lucy Yoshioka Buhler Endowed Chair, directs the production. “The students have learned a lot about acting for the camera, filming scenes with an imaginary scene partner and using technology,” Gesteland said. “Even though it is called ‘Zoom Speed Dating Tonight,’ Zoom was hardly ever used. Instead, students used their phones to film their scenes individually, with all of the reaction shots being added in post-production.”

The production will include current students and USD Opera alumni from all over the nation.

“The virtual nature of this show allowed us to reach out to former students, allowing them to ‘interact’ with our current students, even though many of them have never met,” said Gesteland.

“Zoom Speed Dating Tonight” will be released at www.usd.edu/livemusic.

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