Voice and Opera

The following degrees are offered in Vocal Performance:

Bachelor of Arts/Music/Science (B.A./B.M./B.S.)

Click here for Undergraduate degree options

  • Bachelor Music-Performance
  • Bachelor of Music-Education
  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Science

Admission Requirements

Please see information on the School of Music Application Process.

Auditions will be held on:

November 19, 2016

January 28, 2017

February 25, 2017

Perform an audition, up to 10 minutes, for the appropriate faculty. You may bring your own accompanist, or we will provide one. If you will require our accompanist, please send one copy of your audition music to arrive at least two (2) weeks prior to the audition date. Please include your name on all pages of music. You will be evaluated based on tonal quality, rhythm, intonation, phrasing, interpretation, diction, and stage presence as well as overall musical ability and accuracy.

Your audition should include:

  1. Two classical selections to be sung by memory (may include an appropriate opera or oratorio aria). One song must be in English; the second song may be in English but a foreign language is preferred.
  2. Short ear-training exam
  3. Sight reading

Master of Music (M.M.)

Admission Requirements

Please see information on the School of Music Application Process.

  • Recordings: The recordings must include two art songs and at least one aria from an opera and/or oratorio. Your recordings will not be evaluated until your file is complete. You will be invited to campus for a live audition based upon the quality of your recordings and supplementary application materials. Early submission is encouraged so you can receive your results as soon as possible.
  • Audition: If you are invited to audition, you must either bring your own accompanist or arrange to have one here: Accompanists Recommended by the Voice Faculty 2016-17. The applicant is responsible for accompanist fees. A live audition is necessary for admission.The audition will be 20 minutes and will include a performance followed by an interview. You will choose one selection, faculty will select additional pieces, and you will choose the performance order. Please prepare 5 pieces, including:

1. One aria from an opera or oratorio
2. Three art songs
3. A selection of your choice (aria, art song, musical theater piece, etc.).

You must demonstrate facility in the following languages: English, Italian, French and German (you may show other language(s), as well, but your audition repertoire must include at least these four). You must also demonstrate a variety of styles and historical eras. Please bring six copies of the list of your audition repertoire to your audition.

Graduate auditions will be held on:

November 18, 2017 (Optional early audition)
January 20, 2018
February 10, 2018

Degree Requirements

Area of Specialty in Voice (for all M.M. students)

The Area of Specialty in Voice is available to students enrolled in a Master of Music (M.M.) program, with the permission of their major area.

Curriculum (Total: 6-7 credits)

664-405  One semester of private voice lessons (2 credits)

664-499  Recital, including voice lessons that semester (2 credits)

660-749   Vocal Literature OR 660-792 Vocal Pedagogy OR another semester of voice (2-3 credits)

Audition Requirements

Five pieces, including German, French, Italian and English (fifth piece can be your choice).  You may include an aria from opera or oratorio plus four art songs, or present five art songs.

The voice faculty expects a high level of accomplishment in the audition, as the required recital would be within one or two semesters of starting the Area of Specialty.  We highly recommend auditioning as soon as possible for consideration, as participation in lessons and classes is dependent upon available space.


Reflection by Nicole Tuma (M.M. Flute, 2014)

I am so grateful for the opportunity to do an Area of Specialty in Voice while working on an MM in Flute Performance at UW.  I learned more studying voice than I ever imagined I would- about singing, about breathing, about pedagogy, about the way that the body works, and about what it means to be an artist. By applying what I learned about singing to my flute playing, I was able to find ways to fix long-standing problems.  Hearing technical explanation of breath control, resonance, and support  from a singer’s perspective was really eye-opening.  I’d spent a year being told that I played too softly and out of tune, but I didn’t figure out how to start fixing either problem until a voice lesson when I learned to listen for upper-level frequencies.  I realized that “too softly” was not really about volume at all, but was about my tendency to lose parts of the frequency spectrum so the sound didn’t cut enough.  Similarly, I’d never been sure what being “in tune” meant when I wasn’t tuning TO something, and the answer I came upon was that “in tune” was when all of the frequencies in a given note are istrong, and that it was tuning to the upper harmonics that I’d been ignoring.  That was a noticeable turning point – after figuring that out in February, I never again had a flute lesson where I struggled to tune something without making much headway.  On the flip side, I was encouraged to forget about dynamics and think about colors, words, and emotional intent.  I’ve noticed from recording myself that this is a far more effective approach, though it does take a lot more energy! It’s a bit of a paradox to practice mentally letting go while performing something.  I’ve also been having a lot of fun lately figuring out what kind of rhythmic freedom is facilitated by different languages and trying to transfer that to my flute playing – Faure conservatory pieces make a lot more sense when studied in light of Faure songs, for example.  And, of course, the vocal skills I learned at UW have served me in their own right.  Two years later, I’m working more as a singer than I am as a flute player.  Colleagues are always surprised to hear that I didn’t even start singing until after college.

Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)

Admission Requirements

Please see information on the School of Music Application Process.

  • Recordings: These should include an aria from an opera or oratorio plus two art songs. Your recordings will not be evaluated until your file is complete. You will be invited to campus for a live audition based upon the quality of your recordings and supplementary application materials. Early submission is encouraged so you can receive your results as soon as possible.
  • Audition: If you are invited to audition, you must either bring your own accompanist or arrange to have one here: Accompanists Recommended by the Voice Faculty 2016-17. The applicant is responsible for accompanist fees. A live audition is necessary for admission.

The audition will be 30 minutes and will include a performance and subsequent interview. Please prepare a recital program with the following pieces. You will choose one selection, faculty will select additional pieces, and you will choose the performance order.

– 2 arias from an opera and/or oratorio

– 3 German Lieder

– 3 French melodies

– 3 Italian art songs

– 3 English art songs

You must demonstrate facility in the following languages: English, Italian, French and German (you may show other language(s), as well, but your audition repertoire must include at least these four). You must also demonstrate a variety of styles and historical eras. Please bring six copies of the list of your audition repertoire to your audition.

Graduate auditions will be held on:

November 18, 2017 (Optional early audition)
January 20, 2018
February 10, 2018

Degree Requirements

Doctoral Minor – Required for all Doctoral programs

The purpose of the doctoral minor is to add breadth and depth to the D.M.A or Ph.D degree. To insure coherence a minor program must be approved by the appropriate department, a student’s advisor, and the Director of Graduate Studies, and must include courses at the 300-level or above. Typically, a minor requires 12 credits of work.

Students have a variety of options, including completing an internal minor within the School of Music (e.g., a D.M.A. conducting student who minors in ethnomusicology or a Ph.D. in music theory who minors in clarinet performance), completing a minor in a department outside the School of Music (e.g., a D.M.A. in horn performance who minors in Women’s Studies or a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology who minors in East Asian studies).

Students may, in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, devise a distributed minor that brings together courses from a variety of departments around a particular topic or area of interest. For example, a D.M.A. student in voice devises a minor in vocal health that includes courses in communicative disorders, or a Ph.D. student in musicology devises a minor in Medieval History that includes courses in art history, history, and languages.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The Voice and Opera programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison collaborate to create a supportive and inspiring atmosphere for growth, challenging students to improve as musicians and encouraging them to unfold as artists.

Our faculty combines significant performing careers with individual passions for opera, musical theater, early music, contemporary music, Nordic repertoire, and pedagogical research. With invaluable expertise in the most practical aspects of the musical world, UW Voice and Opera faculty members are dedicated educators, offering outstanding instruction and career advice. Planning a visit to the UW campus? We are glad to meet with and offer sample lessons to prospective students.

Part of a dynamic and vibrant university, the School of Music has a distinguished history of success in preparing singers for various paths in their professional lives. Recent graduates are performing in major opera, musical theater and concert venues, teaching at large and small universities throughout the United States and educating the next generation of musicians in public schools. Curious? Read more: Voice Area Alumni Accomplishments (2014)

Unique aspects of vocal studies at the School of Music include:

    • Offering hour-long voice lessons for all majors, regardless of degree program or year.
    • Providing an opera program open to singers in all vocal degree programs, from Freshmen on up.
    • Facilitating the possibility for students to graduate with a double major, combining other interests with a comprehensive focus in music.
    • Offering an Area of Specialty in Voice for M.M. candidates in other School of Music degree programs.

A plethora of opportunities to hone performance skills are available. Individual lessons are supplemented by weekly Studio Classes held in one of our performance halls, providing constructive evaluation in a supportive, inspiring and encouraging peer environment. Possibilities to perform in public Master Classes, present solo and joint recitals, and to audition for oratorio and opera roles are abundant. University Opera presents an annual season of two fully staged operas as well as evenings of opera scenes and one-act operas in historic Music Hall. Roles are frequently double cast, and participation in Opera Workshop, the Opera Chorus, and backstage production activities are indispensable opportunities for practical experience.

Click here for information about University Opera.

We provide our students with the training and experience necessary to fully explore the role music will play in their futures, and to carry their voices into the world with confidence.