Explore This Season’s Santa Fe Opera With UNM-LA

The Santa Fe Opera. Courtesy/santafeopera.org
Los Alamos Daily Post

Musicians, music educators and opera aficionados Greg Schneider and Dennis Davies-Wilson will give students a grand tour of this season’s Santa Fe Opera in Introduction to Opera, starting June 9 at UNM-Los Alamos.

The class is being offered both for credit and through Community Education, 6-9 p.m. for six Mondays. Credit students may decide on the amount of fine arts credit they want to pursue (1-3 credits). Those over 65 may take the class for $5 per credit hour if there is room in the class. They cannot register until June 2 for the discount.

Davies-Wilson began teaching the class in 1999 with another instructor and was joined by Schneider in 2006.

“We try to provide something for everyone, from the novice to the opera enthusiast,” Davies-Wilson said. “A number of people take the class repeatedly, because since it focuses on the current season of the Santa Fe Opera, it’s different every year.”

The class begins with an opera overview, touching on dramatic elements, history, theatrical aspects, and of course the music. Then the instructors take an in depth look at each opera SFO is presenting this summer.

The instructors divide up the season.

“Greg tends to teach the contemporary operas and Strauss is always my baby,” Davies-Wilson said.

The instructors present video clips and sound recording during class and speakers and sitting in on a rehearsal have been highlights during previous years. Davies-Wilson has always loved opera and this course grew out of his experience in a similar class he took as an undergraduate at UNM in Albuquerque.

“We’re so lucky to have a world class opera right here in our backyard. You certainly don’t find this wonderful setting anywhere else,” he said.

This season is very exciting, Davies-Wilson said, it includes Bizet’s Carmen, which may be the most popular opera ever written, with music that has drawn many to the opera for the first time. The season also includes Fidelio, Beethoven’s only opera; Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, one of the greatest of all Italian comic operas; two short operas performed by the same cast, Mozart’s The Impresario and for Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol; and one of the most enthralling historical operas, Dr. Sun Yat-sen by the distinguished Chinese-born American composer Huang Ruo makes its American premiere.

Davies-Wilson holds a Bachelor of Music Education and a Master of Music in Music History and Literature from the University of New Mexico, and a Master of Library Science (Music Specialization) from Indiana University. He is currently Library Director of the UNM-Los Alamos library. Davis-Wilson teaches in the graduate music program at UNM in Albuquerque. A bassoonist, Davies-Wilson has performed in the Opera Southwest Orchestra and has been a guest bassoonist with the Santa Fe Symphony and the Sangre de Cristo Chorale. He also has performed on early instruments with Música Antigua de Albuquerque since 1988. 

Schneider has more than 30 years of experience as a music educator and professional musician. He has a bachelor’s degree in music education (B.M.E.) from Indiana University, and a master’s and doctorate (M.M., D.M.A.) in composition from the University of North Texas. He has national and international experience as a performer and composer, and as an educator has worked with students of all ages. He is on the music faculty at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos and has been an orchestra member with the Santa Fe Opera.He performs most often on the guitar.

Opera can be overwhelming to the uninitiated. This class, with two knowledgeable and enthusiastic instructors to guide them, may be  future opera buffs’ door into a whole new world. For more information about the class, contact Davies-Wilson at davies@unm.edu.

To register for the class through Community Education, visit http://losalamos.unm.edu/community-education/index.html. To be guided through registration for credit, or to audit the class through the regular enrollment process (the $5 per credit program for seniors included), call 505.662.0332 or visit UNM-LA Services, in the lower level of Building 2 at UNM-LA. For more information about the UNM-Los Alamos summer or fall schedule, visit http://losalamos.unm.edu.



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