Miami Students have the opportunity to work with a number of guest directors who are renowned in the field of opera. This opportunity allows students to experience a variety of directing styles and receive advice from directors who work with major opera companies and young artist programs throughout the nation.
Recent guest directors include:
Nicholas Muni, Sally Stunkel, Erik Friedman, Mihaela Bogdan, Gary Briggle,
Nicholas Wuehrmann, Leland Kimball, Tiffany Lusht, Ian McKenzie-Thurley & Buzz Davis
Benjamin Smolder, Director and Conductor of Opera, is Associate Professor of Voice and the National Director for the Schmidt Youth Vocal Competition. He has enjoyed a varied career as a singer, producer and conductor of opera, musical theater and the Great American Songbook. He has performed as a soloist with such notable organizations as the Spoleto Festival, Festival Internacional de Música Pau Casals, Festival de Mao, Teatro Municipal of San Feliú de Guixols Festival, Almudena Cathedral, Teatre Principal de Mao, Festival de Moiá de Valles, Voces Para la Liturgia, Castell de Belver, and at El Escorial. In this country he has performed in concert with the Detroit Symphony, The National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, Cincinnati Symphony and Opera, Nevada Opera, Opera Pacific, Des Moines, Central City, Columbus Opera and Dayton Opera. Smolder has sung principal operatic roles internationally with opera companies in Prague, Vienna, Cairo and Rome. In this country he has performed as soloist at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, in the Detroit Institute of Arts Artist Series, with the Cincinnati May Festival and for the National Association of Choral Directors Conference. Smolder can be heard on a number of recordings including The Tenderland released by Albany Records, American Tapestry with the Vocal Arts Ensemble and in two albums with The American Spiritual Ensemble. As conductor and producer of Miami Opera, Smolder has conducted operas that have received awards from the National Opera Association for Best Collegiate Production. During the summers, he serves as a conductor and faculty member for the Festival of International Opera of the Americas in San Paulo Brazil. As an advocate for the Great American Songbook, Smolder has commissioned and created new arrangements of American standards and founded an ensemble and jazz orchestra that presents annual concerts. He is the co-founder of S&L Productions that produce American-style variety shows to raise money for non-profit arts organizations. Smolder has served as a board member of the Festival of International Opera of the Americas and the Southern Ohio Metropolitan Opera Board. Many of his students have performed in young artist programs, such as the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, Aspen Music Festival, Des Moines Opera, French Academy of Vocal Arts, Cincinnati Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Opera North, Seattle Opera and others. Many of his students are performing with opera companies in the US, Europe and on Broadway. Smolder has given master classes throughout the United States.
Mari Opatz-Muni, Director Emeritus, is an Associate Professor of Music and is the former Director of Miami University’s Opera Program, which recently won second place in the National Opera Association’s Opera Production competition for their production of Cendrillon. This is the second NOA award that Miami Opera has won. Ms. Opatz-Muni appeared with numerous opera companies in the United States and Europe including Houston Opera, where she was in the original cast of the world premiere, Nixon in China by John Adams. The audio recording won a Grammy Award and the opera’s national PBS television broadcast was honored with and Emmy. Ms. Opatz reprised the role of Nancy Tang in performances at Washington’s Kennedy Center, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Netherlands Opera and at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. In addition, Ms. Opatz appeared with many outstanding opera companies such as the New York City Opera, Atlanta Opera, Tulsa Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Portland Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Toledo Opera, Des Moines Opera and Mobile Opera. Along with the Emmy and Grammy, Ms. Opatz was the recipient of other prestigious awards including grants from the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation, the National Institute for Music Theatre, the National Federation of Music Clubs and the Beethoven Club. She was a semifinalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions in both New York City and in her home state of Iowa.
Lisa Hasson, Vocal Coach and Chorus master, has garnered wide ranging experience working for opera companies and conservatories throughout the United States. She is currently the principal coach and chorus master of the Kentucky Opera in Louisville. A member of the music staff since 2004, she is director of the prestigious apprentice program at Des Moines Metro Opera in addition to being their chorus master. She has collaborated for many years with Cincinnati Opera's education department and along with her husband Brian Robertson, has written shortened versions of Magic Flute, la Boheme and Carmen. She has worked at Sarasota Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Opera North, Opera Birmingham, to name a few. Ms. Hasson has been a guest coach at the University of Kentucky, McGill University, NCSA and CCM. She received her Bachelor of Music in piano performance at McGill University in Montreal, and continued with her opera studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and later at National Opera Studio in London. She was invited to Miami University at the beginning of 2013. She works with the graduate voice students and prepares the opera.
Janice Murray, Répétiteur, has performed throughout North America as soloist, accompanist and chamber player. She is currently a staff accompanist at Miami University of Ohio. As a former adjunct faculty member at Brevard College, she taught piano and music theory in addition to duties as a collaborative pianist with opera, musical theatre, choral ensembles, and faculty and student recitals. At the Brevard Music Center Summer Institute she teaches music theory and accompanies the high school voice program. She earned her M.M. degree at Yale University and her B.M. at the Hart School of Music.
Miami Opera Theater
Miami Opera is an important part of the rich and diverse musical experiences that Miami University has to offer. Miami music majors have the opportunity to assume leadership positions in every part of production. Opera Auditions and sponsored events are open to all of the student body.
Benjamin Smolder, Director
109 Presser Hall
501 South Patterson Avenue
Oxford, OH 45056
Telephone (513) 529-3079
Fax (513) 529-3027