Opera Fest Sewanee

OperaFest Sewanee 2021

A New Sewanee Summer Music Festival Program


OperaFest Sewanee is an artist incubator program which brings together emerging artists and leading experts in opera from around the world. Situated atop the Cumberland Plateau, our festival provides a beautiful environment for artists to escape, create, and grow, while only being a short drive from major cities. 

Directed by Laura Brooks Rice, the inaugural 4 week OperaFest offers private coaching, masterclasses, various performance opportunities, and workshops exploring professional learning. Our programs focus on our three artistic pillars: creation, collaboration, and mentorship. Each session provides training on operatic style, diction and language, dramatic presentation, performance technique, and professional skills training portfolio artists. During the festival, artists will work with our renowned faculty who each bring extensive historical knowledge of the career as well as are actively involved in forging the path of what an operatic career might look like post COVID-19. All participants will have the opportunity to perform in public concerts, including aria and opera excerpt evenings with piano and instrumental students. 

Our encouraging, creative environment aims to give each participant the support and tools they need to continue developing and thrive

Though we plan to offer OperaFest 2021 in-person, we are carefully monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and are prepared to move our program online. All in-person programming will be offered in compliance with government safety regulations.


Program Faculty

Laura Brooks Rice
Master Teacher, Program Director

Mezzo-soprano Laura Brooks Rice has won acclaim on the opera and concert stage for her rich, warm voice, musicality, charm and sensitive acting ability.

From 1985-2019 Miss Rice was on faculty at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey where she was Professor of Voice. Along with her teaching at Westminster, Miss Rice has a private studio of professional singers and has been a vocal consultant to the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Program and is currently the voice teacher for the Cafritz Program with the Washington Opera. She has been an adjunct voice faculty member at The Curtis Institute of Music.

Her private students are currently singing as regular principal artists at The Metropolitan Opera, Washington Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Ft. Worth Opera, Dayton Opera, Minnesota Opera, Nashville Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, and most of the world’s opera houses and orchestras. 

Miss Rice has been on the steering committee for the Singer Training Council under the auspices of Opera America. She has been a member of the board of advisors of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, Astral Artistic Services as well as the Princeton Festival. She has served as a judge on the panels of the National NATSAA Competition, Astral Artistic Services Annual Auditions and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She has been Director of one of Westminster’s most innovative programs the CoOPERAtive Program, and three-week intensive opera training program.

Potential Faculty for 2021 Program

*Some faculty will be on campus, and some teaching remotely.

Kathleen Kelly
Conductor / Coach
Cincinnati Conservatory of Music

Gina Lapinski
Stage Director / Drama Coach
Metropolitan Opera

Patrick Hansen
Conductor / Director
Opera McGill

Amanda Consol
Stage Director / Drama Coach
University of Maryland
Washington National Opera

Joan Dornemann
Conductor / Coach
Metropolitan Opera
International Vocal Arts Institute

Hemdi Kfir
Language Coach
Metropolitan Opera


Who is the program for?

The program is most suitable for college seniors, post-grad singers, and young professionals.

Application Information

Required Materials
Headshot, resume, completed online application, 2 video recordings

Audition Requirements
Two video recordings – contrasting arias

Application Fees and Deadlines

Feb 15th, 2021 ( $35.00 app fee)

  • Priority application deadline
  • Scholarship available for all studios

March 15th, 2021 ($75.00 app fee)

  • Final application deadline
  • Scholarship available for some studios

After March 15th, 2021 ($75.00 app fee)

  • Applications after March 15th will be accepted on a case by case basis with limited scholarship availability.

Tuition & Fees

$3,950.00 covers all tuition, housing, and meals during the program.

For more information please contact ssmfadmissions@sewanee.edu