UNL's 'Candide' wins 1st place in division in National Opera Association Competition

UNL's production of "Candide" took first place in its division in the National Opera Association's Competition. Photo by Doug Smith.
UNL's production of "Candide" took first place in its division in the National Opera Association's Competition. Photo by Doug Smith.

UNL's 'Candide' wins 1st place in division in National Opera Association Competition

22 Nov 2013    

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln Glenn Korff School of Music and Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film’s collaborative, large-scale musical production, “Candide” was awarded first prize in Division IV of the 2012-2013 Opera Production Competition sponsored by the National Opera Association (NOA).

The award will be presented to “Candide's” Director Alisa Belflower at the NOA national convention in New York City on Jan. 11, 2014.The NOA, founded in 1955, seeks to promote a greater appreciation of opera and music theatre, to enhance pedagogy and performing activities and to increase performance opportunities by supporting projects that improve the scope and quality of opera.

The competition is judged by a panel of professional directors of staged productions.Typically there are four to six divisions in this competition annually. Division IV was defined by the size of the production’s budget and the fact that the cast was comprised of both graduate and undergraduate students. A total of 18 awards in six divisions were given by this year’s judges in the NOA competition.'

Belflower, who coordinates UNL’s musical theatre studies, said the recognition was a hard-earned honor for the massive production. After six months of exhaustive negotiations with Mary Zimmerman and Leonard Bernstein's estate to be able to secure the rights to perform Mary Zimmerman's new adaptation of Leonard Bernstein's ‘Candide’ in its first staged production with full orchestra, after my being vetted by the Bernstein estate to be certain of my qualifications to take on this project, after nine months of intensive research, after working to find and adapt all the needed orchestrations, after five months of pre-production development with the amazing student designers, after pre-rehearsal training workshops with Prof. Stan Brown to bring the music major and theatre major cast of 42 to common artistic ground, after six and a half weeks of rehearsals and after a snowstorm's dictating the cancellation of our opening night—it is a distinct and hard-earned honor to be awarded 1st prize in a national production competition,” she said.

“Candide” was performed in Kimball Recital Hall in February 2013. “This production was potentially the largest fully staged production in our College’s history of collaborative musical productions and a shining example of what artistic collaboration can create and achieve,” Belflower said. “I am honored to have been the director of more than 150 students involved in bringing this production to life.”The cast was made up entirely of UNL students. Professor and Director of Orchestras Tyler White conducted the student orchestra.

The production was sponsored by the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.“Candide” is the fourth UNL opera production to receive 1st place honors in its division at the NOA competition in the last 15 years, along with three productions directed by Hixson-Lied Professor and Director of UNL Opera William Shomos:  “Dead Man Walking” in 2008; “Street Scene” in 2001; and “Cosi fan Tutte” in 1998.To view video highlights and photos from the UNL production of “Candide,” visit http://go.unl.edu/candide.