From his extensive work with movie and TV artists, as well as his years teaching at the famed Actor’s Studio in New York, Director of Opera Studies Dr. Samuel Mungo is recognized as an authority in the area of acting on the opera stage. These experiences lead to an innovative approach to the craft, where character development and commitment to creation of true relationships between characters is paramount in the training opera students receive. Dr. Mungo states:
"The days of “the fat lady singing” are over. In an era when opera companies like Metropolitan Opera and LA Opera’s are engaging artists such as Woody Allen, Garry Marshall and John DeLancie, opera training must prepare students with the tools that such artists will expect from performers. First and foremost among these is a strong foundation in the technique of acting. While the voice is the dominant aspect of opera, at Texas State we strive to create the true “singing actor”: one who can use the voice and music, as well as character and technique, to build a believable operatic performance."
There are two stated purposes of Texas State Opera Theatre:
The first is to provide intensive training for the opera student. We believe that character development and the creation of true relationships between the characters are paramount. This goal is achieved through a series of steps:
1) Intense acting training, both with the spoken and sung word,
2) The concept that the beauty and passion of the music can be utilized as a partner to the singer as they move hand in hand toward the emotional objective conceived by the composer,
3) A number of performance opportunities made available to the singer that allows them to participate in the application of the techniques being taught.
The second purpose is to introduce, solidify and celebrate the genre of opera in the local and regional community.
Opera training at Texas State is inspired by the work of two giants in the field - acting teacher Sanford Meisner and opera impresario Walter Felsenstein. Meisner’s acting training focuses on true reaction and relationship between actors, without manipulating or predetermining outcomes. At Texas State we feel that such a focus provides the singing actor the best opportunity to transmit truth in emotion while keeping the vocal apparatus free and unconstricted.
In Walter Felsenstein’s transcendent productions and rehearsal process, he insisted on the singer using the music itself as a partner in the transmission of thought, relationship and emotion. By relying on the music to carry some of the load, the opera student is free to expand their emotional boundaries while singing beautifully.
Performance opportunities abound for opera students at Texas State. Texas State Opera Theatre presents two fully staged productions with orchestra, per year. In addition, both opera classes present opera scenes. There is a touring production of Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors (in English and Spanish), and works with the school districts in the area to regularly bring participatory Children’s Opera and master classes into the schools. Add to this the performances for private and social groups, and the opera student will never be at a loss for performing opportunities!