Since 2015, UW–Madison’s University Opera has national attention as the recipient of 10 National Opera Association Production Awards and five awards from The American Prize.
On our mainstage each year, we present two fully staged operas with the UW–Madison Symphony Orchestra. In recent seasons, repertoire has included Albert Herring, La traviata, Le nozze di Figaro, Transformations, L’incoronazione di Poppea, Into the Woods, Così fan tutte, Two Remain (Out of Darkness), Sweeney Todd, What’s Past is Prologue: The Unfinished American Conversation, The Turn of the Screw, La bohème, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Die Zauberflöte, A Kurt Weill Cabaret, Don Giovanni, and I Wish It So: Marc Blitzstein – The Man in His Music.
In addition to presenting works from the standard repertory, University Opera is dedicated to presenting new operas as well as works representing diverse composers and topics. In 2023, we will be collaborating with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra in performing excerpts from Bill Banfield’s Edmonia (about Edmonia Lewis, a 19th century African American sculptor) as well as a reading of a new opera by Scott Gendel and Sandra Flores-Strand.
In addition to mainstage presentations, we offer Opera Workshop, a course dedicated to the study of staging skills and repertoire, culminating each semester in performances of opera and musical theater scenes and one-act pieces. We also offer Acting for Singers, a two-semester sequence focusing on acting techniques specific to the operatic and musical theater stage. UW–Madison students also have the opportunity to perform around the state for outreach programs in schools and arts centers.
University Opera frequently hosts prestigious guest artists in concerts and master classes. Recent guests include Renée Fleming, Amanda Majeski, Karen Slack, Brenda Rae, Gary Thor Wedow, Daniel Belcher, Nathaniel Stampley, Brenda Harris, Ben Heppner, Dawn Upshaw, and Barbara Bonney.
Support University Opera
University Opera’s season is made possible by the support of alumni, friends, and community organizations. Due to the significant costs of producing opera, the university can fund only a small fraction of our budget. Generous donors have helped underwrite productions and support students who would not otherwise have been able to attend UW–Madison.
We are deeply grateful for the assistance of The Karen K. Bishop Fund for Voice and Opera, The Ann Crow Fund for Voice and Opera, and to The Dara Elizabeth Welty Fund for helping make a high-quality season available to our students and audiences. Our goal is an endowed annual operating fund to provide infrastructure for recruiting, training, and performance opportunities to our singers.
We welcome your inquiries about becoming part of our family of donors. To find out more, please contact Rebekah Sherman at the University of Wisconsin Foundation at 608.572.2077 or at Rebekah.Sherman@supportuw.org.
The Karen K. Bishop Fund for Voice and Opera
The friends and family of Karen K. Bishop, utilizing the generous opportunity of the Morgridge Match program, endowed an opera director professorship in her name following her untimely death in January of 2015. A proud alumna of the School of Music, as well as an active scholar, performer and philanthropist, Dr. Bishop was a devoted supporter of the Opera program from which she received her D.M.A. degree in 2011.
With the success of the professorship, Karen’s husband, Dr. Charles W. Bishop, called for the creation of a committee for advancement work to ensure the success of the voice and opera program for years to come. The committee, which consists of Charles Bishop, members of the School of Music faculty and staff as well as friends and supporters from the larger Madison community, has identified four critical needs for the opera program:
1. An additional endowed professorship in voice to ensure that the School of Music can attract and retain the highest caliber of faculty to support its student performers.
2. Student financial support to provide fellowships, teaching assistantships, scholarships and awards for graduate and undergraduate students in order to recruit best quality talent around the country and the world, making UW-Madison one of the best schools in the country for voice and opera studies.
3. Underwriting support for opera productions to provide the highest quality musical and dramatic experiences for our students and audiences.
4. Funding to renovate the Opera Program’s historic Carol Rennebohm Auditorium in Music Hall to provide professional experiences for our students.
You can join in strengthening the UW-Madison opera program by giving at the following levels of support. Donors who make gifts to this fund will be recognized in ongoing opera programs.
Levels of support for the Karen K. Bishop Fund for Voice and Opera, with examples of impact to the program.
Awards for students for travel/summer program; production costs
Awards for voice/opera students; production costs.
Scholarships and awards for students; production costs.
The Prima Donna
Support for scholarships, awards, fellowships and teaching assistants.
The Producer Circle
Underwriters for one or more University Opera productions; fellowships; scholarships.
The Bishop Circle
$50,000 or more
Endow portions of the voice and opera program, including professorships, scholarships and fellowships.
Or, if you prefer, make a check payable to University of Wisconsin Foundation and note “Bishop Fund for Voice and Opera” in the memo line. Please mail your check to University of Wisconsin Foundation, US Bank Lockbox, Box 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807.
Learn More About Giving
For more information about giving opportunities, contact Rebekah Sherman at 608.572.2077 or at email@example.com