The University of Tennessee Opera Theatre is an artist training program aiming to unlock your potential as singer. As a member of UT Opera Theatre, you’ll gain a secure technical foundation in all areas vital to the development of a successful and fulfilling professional career, including acting, movement, diction, production, stage experience, career orientation, and promotion.
UT Opera Theatre aims to instill a love and respect for opera and to inspire a strong sense of the artist’s role in the community, emphasizing the values of self-motivation and strong artistic goals. It is the particular mission of UT Opera Theatre to create and provide stimulating and necessary production opportunities that are professional in quality, strong in musical and theatrical values, and rich in imagination.
Through the Knoxville Opera Studio, members of the program may participate in fully staged productions with the Knoxville Opera. Additionally, there are opportunities to sing for Marble City Opera and Knoxville Symphony Orchestra events, perform for opera education and outreach programs sponsored by Knoxville Opera, entertain at UT functions, serve as recruiting and fundraising ambassadors, and represent the University in countless other public venues.
Professor of Collaborative Piano
Music Director of the Opera Theatre
Director of Collaborative Piano
Born in Belgium, pianist and conductor Kevin Class studied at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, as well as in the U.S and Canada. As a pianist, teachers have included Romeo Fracalanza, Ralph Votapek, Gyorgy Sebok and Daniel Blumenthal. In 1997, the Belgian government named Kevin a Fellow of the Flemish Community in recognition both of his performances of the complete Piano Sonatas of Mozart and Schubert, and for his contributions to the performance and promotion of contemporary music, with Jan-Marisse Huizing describing him as “an important ambassador for today’s composers”.
Kevin has made more than 15 commercial recordings, including piano concerti by Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart and Schumann as soloist with the Stuttgart Symphony Orchestra, several albums as a collaborative pianist with saxophonists Timothy McAllister and James Romain, cellist Wesley Baldwin, violinists Francisco Caban and Juhi Kee, soprano Soo Yeon Kim and others. He has also recorded several albums of solo piano works by Chopin, Schumann, Liszt’s complete Annees de Pelerinage, and an acclaimed recording of Elliott Carter’s Piano Sonata.. Fanfare Magazine has described Kevin’s playing as “exceptionally refined” and American Record Guide described his work as “provocative and impressive, simply impeccable.”
Kevin was a top-prize winner in Young Keyboard Artists International Piano Competition, 1991 Mozart Piano Competition, Munich ARD and, most recently, the American Prize Competition. He was invited by Murray Perahia to perform an all-Chopin program at Reinbeck Castle for the Schleswig-Holstein Festival as part of the “Young Elites of Murray Perahia” classes with Perahia proclaiming that Kevin “is a poet who serves a deeply musical sensibility.”
Following Kevin’s performances at the Leeds International Piano Competition, Class received invitations to perform recitals in France, Switzerland, and Austria, including Vienna’s Musikverein. He has given solo recitals in numerous important venues worldwide, including Leeds’ Town Hall, Geneva’s Ansermet Hall, Munich’s Grosse Saal of the Hochschule fur Musik, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and six performances in New York’s Carnegie Hall. His sold-out solo recital performances in Chongqing and Chengdu, China were broadcast nationally by China’s national network CCTV.
He has been profiled in the media by the BBC, NPR, PBS, Radio Noord Holland, KBS (Korea), CCTV (China), and locally by WUOT and East Tennessee PBS.
Distinguished Lecturer of Collaborative Piano and Vocal Coach | firstname.lastname@example.org
Eileen Downey is currently Distinguished Lecturer of Collaborative Piano at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where she is a vocal coach and collaborative pianist, as well as a rehearsal pianist for Knoxville Opera. She will be traveling to Austria this summer to be a vocal coach for the AIMS in Graz program. In January of 2021, she served as Music Director for An Opera for Terezín, an international experimental production of Liliane Atlan’s play involving groups from Israel, France, and the United States. Prior to cancellations due to Covid-19, Eileen was engaged to be a pianist for the National Association of Teachers of Singing National Conference and the American Viola Society Festival during the summer of 2020.
Ms. Downey held the positions of chorusmaster, vocal coach, and most recently Music Director for the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center for the summer seasons of 2013-14, and 2016-19. She has been an accompanist for the Middle/East Tennessee Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions since 2012, and has also been a pianist for the International Tuba and Euphonium Conference and the Tennessee Cello Workshop. Eileen is an alumna of the Merola Opera Program, and worked as a staff accompanist for AIMS in Graz in 2011. Other programs in which she has been involved include Opera North, SongFest, Aspen Opera Theater Center, Project Canción Española, and the Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca, Italy. Ms. Downey received a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance and a Master’s Degree in Collaborative Piano from Michigan State University.
Associate Professor, Director of Opera | email@example.com
Internationally acclaimed stage director James Marvel was born and raised in New Orleans and made his Lincoln Center debut in 2008 for the Juilliard Opera Center. Since his professional directing debut in 1996, James has directed over 200 productions and was named Classical Singer Magazine’s “2008 – Stage Director of the Year.” Career highlights include new productions for the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Opera Carolina, Opera Boston, Opera Santa Barbara, Syracuse Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, Austin Lyric Opera, San Antonio Opera, Kentucky Opera, Virginia Opera, North Carolina Opera, Toledo Opera, Sacramento Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Wolf Trap Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program.
International credits include a new production of Carmen for Opera Africa in Johannesburg and Die Zauberflote for the Seoul International Opera in South Korea. Other international credits include work in Canada, Scotland, England, Poland, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.
Senior Lecturer of Voice | firstname.lastname@example.org
During her international career, leading soprano Cecily Nall performed in a variety of venues throughout the United States, Europe, and South America. Highlights of her performing career include leading and supporting roles with the San Francisco Opera, Baltimore Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Atlanta Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Opera Memphis, West Palm Beach Opera, among others. In Europe, Ms. Nall was engaged as a principal artist with the Stadttheater Aachen and Staatstheater Darmstadt and appeared as a guest artist with numerous German theaters including Leipzig, Dortmund, Mannheim, Hannover, Wiesbaden, Würzberg, and Bielefeld, to name a few. Additional international appearances included performances as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Festival Dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy and Charleston, South Carolina, and as Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with the Teatro Municipal in Santiago, Chile.
On the concert stage, Ms. Nall appeared with several orchestras, including the Cincinnati, Kentucky, Dayton, Nashville and Columbus, Ohio Symphony Orchestras. In 2006, she was the soprano soloist with the Point Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh, led by Efraín Amaya, for its tour of Italy. Additionally, she has sung recitals in Atlanta, Birmingham, and Cincinnati.
Cecily Nall first attracted attention as a winner of the Metropolitan Opera, Baltimore Opera, Rosa Ponselle, and Eleanor Steber vocal competitions. She began her professional performing career as a member of the Cincinnati Opera Young American Artists Program (YAAP), and the Ensemble Company of the Cincinnati Opera (ECCO!). A native of Georgia, she holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Berry College, Mount Berry, Georgia, a Master of Music from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and received additional vocal training at the Brevard Music Center, Brevard, North Carolina, and the American Institute of Musical Studies, Graz, Austria.
From 2004-2007, Ms. Nall was Assistant Professor of Voice at the College of Music, Florida State University. While there, she performed several solo and collaborative recitals at the College of Music and appeared as soloist with the Tallahassee Community Chorus and the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra. Cecily Nall was Artist-in-Residence at the Musical Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio from 1997-2004.
Assistant Professor of Practice | email@example.com
Kimberly Roberts, Assistant Professor of voice, was a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has enchanted audiences across the nation with her performances of Countless Almaviva in Le Nozze de Figaro, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Magda in La Rondine, Magda in The Consul, and the title role in Susannah. She has also performed as the soprano soloist in Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder, Barber’s Andromache’s Farewell and Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Handel’s Messiah, Verdi’s Requiem, Bach’s Magnificat, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, and Rutter’s Requiem. She is a frequent recitalist throughout the US and Western Europe and specializes in the works of Sven Lekberg and other American Neo-Romantics. Dr. Roberts holds a Bachelor of Music in Education from Simpson College, as well as Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Vocal Performance from Louisiana State University.
Additionally, Dr. Roberts maintains a private studio of emerging professional singers and is the voice instructor for the Des Moines Metro Opera. Her students perform with many of the nation’s great houses and programs, including Merola, Glimmerglass, Wolf Trap, St. Louis Opera Theatre, Spoleto, Winter Opera St. Louis, Chautauqua Opera, Central City, Santa Fe Opera, Utah Opera, Tri Cities Opera, Minnesota Opera, the Kansas City Lyric, and the Des Moines Metro Opera. Her students are also consistently national and regional finalists in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, in addition to other national and international competitions.
Assistant Professor of Voice | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Not only does he sound like God on a good day, but he’s intensely imaginative and adventurous, navigating repertoire that would make most singers creep into the wings and weep.” –The Washington Post
Stephen Salters’ passionate and impeccably articulated performances of a wide range of repertoire have won him acclaim throughout Europe, the UK, Asia and the United States. He works regularly with leading conductors including Christoph Eschenbach, James Conlon, Seiji Ozawa, Robert Spano, Nicholas McGegan, Keith Lockhart, Ivor Bolton, Will Crutchfield, Leonard Slatkin, Hugh Wolff, Bobby McFerrin, Jane Glover, Jeff Tyzik, and Martin Haselboeck. On the opera stage with over 30 roles, he excels equally in contemporary works and standard repertory. This season’s highlights will see Mr. Salters singing the lead role of Kovalyov in a rare performances of Shostakovich’s opera The Nose in Boston and orchestra concerts in France, the fantastic role of Elijah in Canada and recitals in Europe and Hawai’i,in addition to several world premieres.
A celebrated recitalist, Mr. Salters has thrilled and moved audiences all over the world and is a much sought-after interpreter and advocate of ‘New Music’. This season, Stephen Salters is delighted to have been invited by the Lark Chamber Artists as their newest collaborative core member. As an international educator, he also travels to world conducting master classes and has a residency called Until Now for young singers. Stephen Salters first gained worldwide attention in 1996, when he took first place in Belgium’s Queen Elisabeth International Competition of Singing; first place in the International Puccini-Licia Albanese Competition; was a Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions National Finalist; and received a George London Foundation Award in memory of Bruce Yarnell. Shortly thereafter, he won the prestigious Walter N. Naumburg Prize and was well on his way to becoming one of the most sought-after singers of his generation
Professor and Area Coordinator of Voice | email@example.com
Andrew Skoog, tenor, is Professor of Voice and Voice Area Coordinator. Professor Skoog is also conductor of the University of Tennessee Men’s Chorale.
Professor Skoog made his New York debut at Carnegie Hall as tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by John Rutter, internationally acclaimed composer and conductor. He returned to Carnegie Hall as tenor soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana with Andrew Litton and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Skoog has sung the piece with the American Symphony Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. In demand for orchestral engagements, Skoog made his international debut singing Carmina Burana with the Bergen Philharmonic in Bergen, Norway.
Critics hail him as ideal in Carmina Burana because of his “full, lyric delivery in the demanding, high tessitura.” As a Carmina specialist, Skoog has performed this role forty-seven times in his career, including with the Minnesota Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Toledo Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Albany Symphony, Bangor Symphony, Baton Rouge Symphony, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Tulsa Symphony, Victoria Symphony, Midland Symphony and Valley Symphony Orchestras. Other engagements include Rachmaninoff’s The Bells in a return appearance with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Mendelssohn’s Die Erste Walpurgisnacht with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Berlioz’ Requiem with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, as well as performances of Britten’s Saint Nicolas, Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes, Mozart’s Requiem and Ramirez’s Misa Criolla. Prior to the COVID pandemic, he appeared in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Buffalo Philharmonic and Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with the University of Tennessee Chamber Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with the Knoxville Handel Society, Turandot with Knoxville Opera where he sang the role of Pong, and five performances of Carmina Burana with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Atlanta Wind Symphony Orchestra, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Chattanooga Ballet and Delta Symphony Orchestra.
Assistant Professor of Voice | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mezzo-Soprano noted for her “commanding and dramatic presence” (Opera News), mezzo-soprano Renée Tatum continues to garner recognition in the most demanding of operatic repertoire. In the 2022-23 season, Ms. Tatum returns to the Metropolitan Opera for Rigoletto, performs a debut recital with The Boston Wagner Society, sings Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with Palm Beach Opera, sings a recital with the Needham Concert Society, Mozart’s Missa Brevis and Vesperae solennes de confessore with the Masterworks Chorale, and ends the season with Mahler’s Rückertlieder. Future seasons include Flosshilde and Waltraute in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen in concert with The Dallas Symphony.
Last season, Ms. Tatum made her Atlanta Opera debut as Cornelia in Giulio Cesare, followed by a recital with the Boston Artists Ensemble. Later in the season, she debuted Fricka in Das Rheingold with Nashville Opera and Margret in Wozzeck with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She also continued her long relationship with The Metropolitan Opera in their new production of Rigoletto and Ariadne auf Naxos. Ms. Tatum’s relationship with The Met spans 11 years and has included nearly 100 performances including Fenena in Nabucco, 3rd Lady and 2nd Lady in The Magic Flute, Emilia in Otello, Inez in Il Trovatore, Adonella in Francesca da Rimini, and Waltraute and Flosshilde in Robert LePage’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.