Opera UTEP
Opera Workshop
Opera Workshop
Music Theatre Company (also known as Music Theater Workshop) is the opera/musical theater skills development and production course in the UTEP Department of Music. Since 2004, MTCO has presented an extraordinary variety of productions, including one-act and full-length operas, staged and in-concert musicals, and various opera/musical theater scenes productions. This extremely talented group of 30-40 music and non-music majors is committed to quality performance, and is highly respected in the El Paso/Juarez community – so much so that it has recently become the official chorus for El Paso Opera, the area’s professional opera company.
Dr. Elisa Fraser Wilson    

Elisa Fraser Wilson, Director of the Music Theatre Company, Womens’ Glee Club, and voice instructor, enjoyed a thoroughly busy year establishing collaborations between UTEP’s opera and choral organizations and local arts groups, notably El Paso Opera and the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Highlights of 2009-2010 included preparing university groups for performances of La Vie de Bohème, Porgy and Bess In Concert and Holst’s The Planets; also, conducting 10 performances of La Vie de Bohème under the tutelage of Metropolitan Opera associate conductor Dan Saunders and developing her own teaching methods in the Viewpoints acting method under the guidance of famed soprano Lauren Flanigan. Dr. Wilson is delighted to celebrate her recent promotion to tenured associate professor, and to announce her new position with El Paso Opera as Director of its Young Artists Program.

Music Theatre Company finished the busiest year of its existence in 2009-2010, with numerous performance opportunities resulting from its new collaboration with El Paso Opera!!! UTEP Music is so proud to support MTCO as the official chorus for El Paso Opera.

PERFORMANCE: Last season, MTCO participated in Opera for All, La Vie de Bohème, and Porgy and Bess, and both students and faculty thoroughly enjoyed working with EPO’s new artistic and general director David Grabarkewitz, his staff, and all the amazing artists he brought in from the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and Broadway to perform for El Paso audiences. In 2010-11, MTCO participates in Opera for All/Amor por Juarez and Madama Butterfly, performing chorus and comprimario roles in both ventures.

In addition to performing in the Abraham Chavez and Plaza Theaters as chorus, comprimarios, and leads with a professional orchestra, MTCO students toured local public schools with a one-act opera, Mozart’s The Impresario; performed a month-long series of lecture-recitals at the El Paso Museum of Art (The Art of Opera); sang for opera fundraising events such as Encores and Overtures for local dignitaries and UTEP administration; and sang with/for conductors and singers from the MET and City Opera. What an amazing list of performance accomplishments for such a short period of time!

EDUCATION: Since 2009, MTCO has hosted master classes with highly renowned singers including UTEP alumni Barbara Divis, soprano, and Luis Ricardo Herrera, bass-baritone. Most recently, class members honed their audition skills in a series of workshops with David Grabarkewitz, Resident Director of the New York City Opera.

Most significantly, MTCO has formed a strong bond with internationally renowned soprano Lauren Flanigan, who brought her acting method, Viewpoints, to MTCO students in a brief residency in February 2010. Since that time, Lauren has returned for more workshops in conjunction with Opera For All/Amor por Juarez in September; in November, she returns for a second residency at UTEP, helping MTCO prepare for its fall Song Slam: Celebrating Musical Theater.

Of the new partnership with El Paso Opera and its new leader, director Elisa Wilson states: “I have long hoped for this type of connection, in which our university students have the chance to perform at a professional level while receiving the coaching and nurturing they require to grow as performers and musicians. Certainly, in this economic climate, it only makes sense for us to work together within the arts community to pool resources, but, beyond that, I appreciate how David (Grabarkewitz) treats my students as artists. He is kind, passionate, articulate, interested, and, of course, interesting! Further, he clearly loves El Paso and UTEP, and does everything in his power to promote both in the area and abroad. We are so lucky to have him here, and I hope we can keep him for a very, very long time.”

Check out MTCO’s many activities with El Paso Opera at epopera.org and on facebook.
Department of Music