FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater recently won the most prestigious award in the National Opera Association’s 2020-21 Opera Production Competition.
Jacobs’ production of “The Turn of the Screw” by Benjamin Britten, featuring an artistic team led by Jacobs faculty Michael Shell, stage director, and Arthur Fagen, conductor, won in Division VIII, the highest level of the competition.
A total of 56 entries were divided into eight divisions, with a total of 12 prizes awarded during this year’s event.
“We all felt it was important to continue giving students performance opportunities even if the productions were modified somehow and, as members of the profession, to keep the art form going in some way,” said Shell, associate professor of voice and resident stage director. “The challenge for me was maintaining the professionalism and artistic standards expected from IU Jacobs Opera Theater with a significantly reduced crew and production support because of safety protocols.
“I think this award shows we did just that and then some. The overall feeling from the students was one of excitement and fulfillment. They were so appreciative of still being able to perform and did so passionately despite masking and social distancing.”
Despite the COVID 19 pandemic, Jacobs Opera Theater’s 2020-21 season continued, following strict safety protocols, while most performing organizations’ did not.
Shell directed all five masked productions, which featured fewer chorus members and musicians in order to maintain safe distances. While performances were not open to the public, many were livestreamed and may be viewed on demand.
“With immense pride, we congratulate Michael Shell, Arthur Fagen and the rest of the artistic team as well as the music leadership and cast of ‘The Turn of the Screw,’” said Tim Stebbins, Ted Jones Executive Director of Production for IU Jacobs Opera and Ballet Theater. “Thank you to everyone who had a role in mounting this production for continuing our tradition of producing excellent opera and ballet productions, second to none in the academic world.”
IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater produced its first opera in 1948, with Jacques Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffman.” It currently presents six fully staged productions each year and has almost 480 productions to its credit.