Opera Theatre

University of Mississippi

“The perfect play becomes the perfect opera.”

The award-winning University of Mississippi Opera Theatre ensemble, under the direction of Julia Aubrey, will present the world premiere of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark in the Ford Center for the Performing Arts on April 18, 2015. Composed by alumnae Dr. Nancy Van de Vate, the opera will feature faculty, students, and alumni on stage and in the orchestra for this exciting event. Following this premiere, the cast and crew will take the production to Prague, Czech Republic for a performance on May 30, 2015 with the Moravian Philharmonic under the baton of Petr Vronsky. Join us for this superb creation here in Oxford and abroad!

About the Composer

image1Nancy Van de Vate 

Nancy Van de Vate was born in Plainfield, New Jersey on December 30, 1930 and now lives in Vienna, Austria. She attended the Eastman School of Music as a scholarship student and completed her undergraduate education at Wellesley College with a BA in Music in 1952. She received the Master of Music degree in Composition from the University of Mississippi in 1958, and the Doctor of Music degree in Composition from Florida State University in 1968. She did post-doctoral work in electronic music at Dartmouth College and the University of New Hampshire in the summer of 1972.

She has composed over 115 works in virtually all forms, from a composition for solo instrument based on only one note to grand opera. In 1994 she was granted dual citizenship by the Austrian government — permitted only in cases of exceptional artistic achievement — because of her excellence as a composer and her musical contributions to the Republic of Austria.

For many years, while actively composing, her musical activities included teaching at nine universities in the southern United States and Hawaii, performing as violist in symphony orchestras and as a solo and chamber pianist, and serving as activist president of two composers’ organizations — most notably the International League of Women Composers, which she founded in 1975 and chaired for seven years. She has contributed articles to Musical America, The International Musician, The Instrumentalist, Symphony News, and numerous other professional periodicals in the United States, Austria, Indonesia, and other countries. She is often interviewed for radio broadcast and for music journal and newspaper articles.

Her music has appeared frequently on major international music festivals including the Winter Music Nights in Bulgaria (1996), Japan Society for Contemporary Music (1991), Ultima 92 in Norway (1992), Aspekte in Salzburg (1989 and 1990), Musica Viva in Munich (1989), Poznan Spring in Poland (1984), Vienna Music Summer (1992), Wratislavia Cantans in Wroclaw, Poland (1990), and Soro Music Festival in Denmark (1994), among others.

She gives frequent guest lectures about her music in German and English in Austria, Germany, Poland, and the United States. She previously lectured in Indonesian on her music in Jakarta, where she lived for four years. Her music has been heard in at least thirty-two countries on five continents, and is especially widely heard on radio broadcasts.

The major thrust of her compositional activities is now opera and musical theater. Her children’s musical, Der Herrscher und das Mädchen, was premiered in Vienna on June 20, 1995. Her 45-minute English-language opera, In the Shadow of the Glen after the John Millington Synge play, was completed in 1994. Her German-language grand opera Nemo: Jenseits von Vulkania was completed in the fall of 1995 and is seeking its premiere, videotaping, and digital recording for CDs. Her grand opera, in English, later in German, All Quiet on tbe Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues) after the Erich Maria Remarque anti-war novel, will be completed in 1997 and 1998, respectively. Her English-language chamber opera The Death of the Hired Man, after the Robert Frost poem, will be completed in 1998. Her English-language musical theater works, Cocaine Lil, after the anonymous American folk poem. and A Night in the Royal Ontario Museum, after the Margaret Atwood poem, have continued to see many performances in Europe and America. Cocaine Lil, is recorded on compact disc by “belcanto ensemble” of Germany on Koch-Schwann.

Van de Vate is one of the most recorded composers of orchestral music in the world, with some 20 works to date; her discography also includes many recordings of chamber and solo works. Her entries in the Schwann Opus and Bielefelder catalogs identify her as the most-recorded woman composer in the world. Chernobyl was nominated for the 1989 Koussevitsky International Recording Award for the best new work by a living composer in its first recording; her 1987 compact disc of orchestral music was nominated for the 1988 Ovation Classical Music Award for the best new recording in the orchestral category.

In 1989 and 1993 Van de Vate was a nominator for the quadrennial Kyoto Prize in Music, at 50,000,000 yen the world’s largest music award. She is again a nominator for the 1997 Kyoto Prize in Music. Her orchestral music has gained numerous Pulitzer and Grawemeyer nominations.

She has received commissions and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, the American Association of University Women, Meet the Composer, the Money for Women Fund, the Austrian Foreign Ministry, the City of Vienna, and others. She has been a Resident Fellow at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and Ossabaw Island in the US, the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig (Ireland), the Brahmshaus (Baden-Baden, Germany), and the Künstlerhaus Boswil (Switzerland).

In six years after issuing its first CD, Vienna Modern Masters, a nonprofit record company producing CDs of contemporary music, has achieved under her artistic leadership a catalog of 59 CDs, with 10-12 new additions annualy. 37 CDs contain only orchestral and orchestral-choral music. As VMM’s Vice-President and Artistic Director, she has directly supervised the recording in Eastern Europe, with various orchestras and conductors, of more than 100 orchestral and orchestral-choral work. She has edited all 59 of the VMM CD booklets to date, often also writing introductions and program notes for composers’ biographies and their works.

She administers VMM’s Orchestral Recording Award competition, now in its sixth year, and VMM’s Annual Performers’ Recording Award competition, now in its third year.

Other resources:


Hamlet Guest Artists

Ryan MacPhersonRyan MacPhearson (Hamlet)

Ryan recently made is role debut as Frederick in Pirates of Penzance at Portland Opera, a role he repeated this March at Pensacola Opera. Recently: A guest soloist at City Center for a celebration of New York City Opera; Ferrando – Cosi fan tutte at Portland Opera, NYCO, Opéra de Nice; Anatol – Vanessa at NYCO, Wiener Konzerthaus; Alfredo – La Traviata at Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Opera Tampa; Don Jose – Carmen at Festival Opera, Opera Memphis, Lyric Opera Dublin; Peter Quint – The Turn of the Screw, Heurtebise – Orpheé, & Mr. Owen in Postcard From Morocco at Portland Opera; The Duke – Rigoletto at Opera Memphis, Nashville Opera; Roderick – The Fall of the House of Usher at Long Beach Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre; Kornélis – La princess jaune, & Horace – La colombe at England’s Buxton Festival; Jack’s Father – Brokeback Mountain at Teatro Real Madrid; Neurologist – The Man the Mistook His Wife for a Hat at Nashville Opera. Upcoming: Alfredo – La Traviata at Central City Opera; Gérald – Lakmé at Baltimore Concert Opera; Lucio – Lucio Silla at Chicago Opera Theatre; Don Jose – Carmen at Shreveport Opera; Curley – Of Mice and Men at Austin Lyric Opera. Mr. MacPherson is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and Yale University.

Jennifer RobinsonJennifer Robinson (Gertrude, Queen of Denmark)

Jennifer Robinson (Gertrude, Queen of Denmark), has performed widely throughout the United States in opera, oratorio, and recital. Her operatic roles include Despina in Così Fan Tutte, Marenka in The Bartered Bride, Adele in Die Fledermaus, and Pamina in The Magic Flute. Active in oratorio, Ms. Robinson’s solo appearances include those with the Hilton Head Oratorio Society, Tar River Orchestra, Sun Coast Oratorio Society, and both the North Carolina Bach Festival and the Tallahassee Bach Parley. Her repertoire includes The Creation (Haydn) Messiah (Handel), Lord Nelson Mass (Haydn), and Christmas Oratorio (Bach).

Of her performance of Haydn’s Creation with the Arkansas Choral Society and members of the Little Rock Symphony, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette stated “…marvelous throughout. Jennifer Robinson was especially luminous in the arias With Verdure Clad and On Mighty Pens.”

Her many recital engagements include the 50th Anniversary Conference of the College Music Society, the National Opera Association’s National Conference in Washington, D.C., guest artist series of numerous universities, and performances for the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

Concert soloist venues include the Germantown Symphony Orchestra, the Hilton Head Festival of Italian Opera, and the North Carolina Museum of Art Chamber Music Series. She has also appeared at the joint national conference of the National Opera Association and National Association of Teachers of Singing in a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles.

Ms.Robinson’s spring appearances include a collaborative production with the Germantown Symphony, Oxford Civic Chorus and Germantown Chorus as the soprano soloist in two performances of Felix Mendlessohn’s Elijah. The performances include one on May 9th in the Germantown Performing Arts Center in Germantown, Tennessee and on May 11th in the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in Oxford, Mississippi.

Ms. Robinson is a Yoga Alliance Certified Instructor of Yoga, and is currently developing programs that enhance performers’ artistic abilities through natural, holistic means. Her presentation “Yoga and Meditation for Performers” was featured on the Southern Regional Conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and has been offered in several venues at the University of Mississippi. She also teaches at Southern Star Yoga. Ms. Robinson holds a master of music degree in vocal performance from Florida State University, and has pursued doctoral studies leading to the doctor of musical arts degree at the University of Illinois. She currently serves as instructor of music at the University of Mississippi, where she teaches both studio and class voice, and aural skills. Ms. Robinson’s recording of Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles may be heard on Albany Records.

Bradley RobinsonBradley Robinson(Claudius, King of Denmark)

Bradley Robinson(Claudius, King of Denmark), has performed opera, oratorio, and musical theater throughout the United States with companies including Atlanta Civic Opera, Opera Memphis, Charlotte Opera, St. Petersburg Opera, and Chautauqua Opera. His opera credits include Escamillo (Carmen), Silvio (I Pagliacci), Guglielmo (Cosi Fan Tutte), Michele (Il Tabarro), and the title roles in Don Giovanni and Dido and Æneas. Robinson performed with Opera Carolina in roles including Papageno (The Magic Flute), Dandini (La Cenerentola), and the Father in Hansel and Gretel. He sang the role of Captain Amadas in the world premiere of Ian Hamilton’s Raleigh’s Dream, and toured the opera in the title role. Robinson sang the role of Creon with Sinfonia da Camera in the North American premiere of Georges Enesco’s opera Oedipe (aired on Romanian National Television), and later appeared with them as Don Bartolo (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Herr von Faninal (Der Rosenkavalier). Opera Memphis roles include Melchior (Amahl and the Night Visitors), Alfio (Cavalleria Rusticana) and Zuniga(Carmen). Roles with Como Opera include Tonio(Pagliacci) and the title role in Gianni Schicchi.

An accomplished oratorio soloist, he has appeared with numerous orchestras including the Mississippi Symphony and those of Tallahassee, Jackson, Memphis, Hilton Head, Germantown, Jacksonville and Corinth. His many credits include Handel’s Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana, the Requiems of Brahms, Fauré, and Mozart, Vaughn Williams Hodie, and works of Bach including Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme, Magnificat, St John Passion and solo cantata Ich habe genug.

Among his reviews, the Charlotte Observer states, “One thing can be said of his voice. It is truly beautiful”; the Tallahassee Democrat described his voice as “powerful and agile, and always expressive.”

An active recitalist, Robinson performed his lecture recital “Charles Ives: A Portrait in Song” at the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, and also for the L.A. Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Southern Regional and Great Lakes Regional conferences of the College Music Society. Robinson appeared at the 50th Anniversary National Conference of the C.M.S. in Salt Lake City, and for the National Opera Association’s conferences in Washington, D.C, Atlanta, and San Antonio. His diverse schedule of performance venues includes the University of Utah, University of Mississippi Faculty Artist Series, and the Artist Series of William Carey University and Young Harris College. His performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles for the N.O.A. was followed by engagements that included Messiah, Bach’s B Minor Mass, and Haydn’s Creation. The spring of 2015 finds Robinson in the title role in Mendlessohn’s Elijah in collaborative performances with the Germantown Symphony, Germantown Chorus and Oxford Civic Chorus.

Robinson holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Illinois, a Masters Degree from Florida State University, and currently serves on the faculty of the University of Mississippi as associate professor of music and Vocal Area Head, teaching studio voice and vocal pedagogy. He may be heard on Albany Records CD recordings that include Enescu’s Oedipe and his performance of Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles.

Bill Bugg 10.14G. William Bugg (Ghost/Gravedigger)

G. William Bugg holds degrees from Furman University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the University of Memphis.

He retired from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2011, where for thirty-three years he had taught voice and directed the opera program he founded. For ten years he directed Alabama Operaworks, a small regional opera company that he also founded. During his career Dr. Bugg has performed recitals and concerts in London, Salisbury, Oxford, and Canterbury, England, as well as three recitals in New York’s famed Weil Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Birmingham audiences know Dr. Bugg for his operatic performances as well as his many performances in musicals, cabarets and music revues.