JMU's German Opera Experience

Program Description

German Opera Experience

Session One (Undergraduate) and Session Two (Graduate)  will invite 20-30 Students to come to Germany and perform as instrumentalists, soloists, choristers, dancers, repetiteurs, and understudies in the productions of Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans and/or other works under considertion listed below.  Students will also be cast Johann Strauss II’s Eine Nacht in Venedig, associated with the Middle-Saxony Opera House in Freiberg. Other student productions will be chosen at a later date depending on course enrollment.  The course includes 60 hours of Conversational German. Students will start their course on May 20th in the first session and continue through until July 1st.  If cast in Eine Nacht in Venedig students will remain in Germany to finish performances for an extra two weeks.

Students may have the opportunities to participate in extra concerts, and may have time to take personal excursions and activities to other area cities of Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin to see music theater productions.  Students will be responsible for all airfare, and food costs and extra transportation costs incurred while living in Freiberg outside of the fees paid to JMU. Students will be required to stay until the final performances of the works they are cast in, which may extend beyond the official end of the course, by arrangement with the director. This will have an extra housing charge to pay for accommodation.


Confirmed Roles with the Middle-Saxony Opera’s Mainstage Production of Johann Strauss II’s Eine Nacht in Venedig
Student Productions under Consideration (All Roles Open for Casting)
Antonio Vivaldi: Juditha triumphans
Juditha: contralto
Vagaus: soprano
Holofernes: contralto
Abra: soprano
Ozias: contralto
An all-female choir
Pauline Viardot: Cendrillon
Le Baron de Pictordu: baritone  
Marie, called Cendrillon: soprano              
Armelinde: mezzo-soprano           
Maguelonne: soprano    
La Fée: soprano 
Le Prince Charmant: tenor            
Le Comte Barigoule: tenor             
Chorus of Ball guests
César Cui: Little Red Riding Hood
The Grandmother: alto
The Mother: mezzo-soprano
Little Red Riding-Hood: soprano
The Wolf: alto
A Hunter: soprano
A Woodcutter: mezzo-soprano
Hunters and woodcutters
Narrating Chorus
Benjamin Britten: The Turn of the Screw
Prologue: Tenor                 
Governess: Soprano         
Miles: Treble       
Flora: Soprano  
Mrs. Grose: Soprano        
Miss Jessel: Soprano        
Peter Quint: Tenor
W. A. Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro
Count Almaviva: Baritone
Countess Rosina Almaviva: soprano          
Susanna: soprano              
Figaro, personal valet to the count: Baritone        
Cherubino: mezzo soprano
Marcellina: soprano        
Bartolo: bass      
Basilio: tenor     
Don Curzio: tenor             
Barbarina: soprano
Antonio: baritone             
Chorus of peasants, villagers, and servants
Giacomo Puccini: Suor Angelica
Sister Angelica: soprano
The Princess: contralto
The Abbess: mezzo-soprano          
The Monitress: mezzo-soprano   
The Mistress of the novices: mezzo-soprano           
Sister Genovieffa: soprano             
Sister Osmina: soprano  
Sister Dolcina: soprano 
The nursing sister: mezzo-soprano              
The alms sisters: sopranos              
A novice: soprano             
The lay sisters: soprano and mezzo-soprano           
Offstage chorus of women, children, and men
Giacomo Puccini: Gianni Schicchi
Gianni Schicchi: baritone              
Lauretta: soprano
Zita: contralto   
Rinuccio: tenor
Gherardo: tenor                 
Nella: soprano   
Gherardino: soprano or treble    
Betto di Signa: bass          
Simone: bass      
Marco: baritone                 
La Ciesca: mezzo-soprano               
Maestro Spinelloccio: bass            
Ser Amantio di Nicolao: baritone                
Pinellino: bass   
Guccio: bass


Audition Information: 

Auditions:  These can be made live and all students will have to apply both through the JMU website as students and through the Acceptd website: to be considered for a role offer.

Live Audition Tours:  February 2018. Details TBA.

Contact Auditions Co-ordinator, Dr. Dorothy Maddison at for further information.


TENTATIVE Calendar: 

Stay tuned for more updates as our German Partners confirm performance dates!

May 14:  Faculty Arrive in Freiberg
May 20:  Students arrive in Germany
May 21:  Orientation, beginning of German Language Classes, and voice lessons.
May 22:  Rehearsals begin for  Eine Nacht in Venedig
June 17:  18:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig Premier at Kriebstein
June 19:  18:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
June 21:  18:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
June 23:  20:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
June 24:  20:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
June 26:  18:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
June 30:  20:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
July 3:  18:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
July 5:  18:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
July 7:  20:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
July 8:  18:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
July 12:  18:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
July 13:  20:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
July 14:  20:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
July 15:  18:00: Eine Nacht in Venedig at Kriebstein
July 16:  Eine Nacht in Venedig STUDENTS DEPART


Freiberg, Germany

Location Description

The program is based in the scenic town of Freiberg, Germany.  This community hosts a professional opera house and orchestra, as well as a technical mining engineering University with approximately 40,000 inhabitants.  Freiberg started as a medieval mining city, providing the silver which made Dresden rich, and maintains most of its early German architectural heritage.  45 minutes from Dresden by car or train, it is a perfect location for performers who are interested in exploring the possibilities of developing a career in the German Theater system as well as developing life-long friendships with both the German students associated with the University and members of the Middle-Saxony Opera House. Both main-stage shows will be produced at Kriebstein, a stage on a lake within the beautiful German Holiday Resort, located on a water reserve near Leipzig.

Der Zigeunerbaron


Opera at Freiburg

Germany Music1

Germany Music2


Dorothy Maddison | | Music


Accommodations are in furnished apartments with 3-4 students per apartment. Each apartment has a small kitchen and eating area and a shared bathroom with shower. Housing is a 20 minute walk or a 10 minute bicycle ride from the center of Freiberg where classes and rehearsals are held. Internet access is included.

Students are responsible for their day-to-day eating and shopping, but there will be events which are catered when traveling.

Additional Items to Consider

Students will be required to carry and purchase a German SIM card phone for local and emergency calls.  Students will be required to walk to all rehearsals and classes within Freiberg, a 15 to 20 minute journey to the center of town from the dormitory location.

Students will be providing funds for their own eating expenses during the course, although some meals and food will be provided at the beginning of the course until the students have time to go shopping.

This course answers the question: "What would it be like to work professionally in the German Theater system?" and its' emphasis is on the practical experience of performing within a professional opera house environment.

Although this course is primarily for students wishing professional level performance opportunities, research on topics for advanced students with special skill sets is encouraged through extra coachings and voice lessons as time permits.  Students who are sufficiently advanced may be offered the opportunity to audition for agents and conductors in the area.

Students will be asked to submit an audition package, including head and body shot photos, a typical "performer's" resume and two to three recordings of songs and/or arias appropriate to their singing level.  Singers who have music theater emphasis in their training are also encouraged to include a monologue and dance video. Pianists and conductors will be asked to produce a headshot only, and videos of their piano playing with singers and as soloists or conductors.  This will involve a second application fee and be uploaded onto the GetAcceptd website for the German Opera Experience.  This website will constitute a second "audition" for the directors and conductors from Germany who will be working with the students once they arrive.  Live auditions will also be held during the month of November at JMU and at various locations in the USA.

Please contact the director of the course, Dr. Dorothy Maddison, to arrange for an interview either in person at an audition, or by telephone.  Applicants are NOT required to submit letters of recommendation, but should be prepared to submit a list of references such as voice teachers, coaches and professors they have worked with as well as a list of significant performing experiences they have already had.

Comments from Participants

So many master-classes and concerts that we’ve gone too. They were all really cool. I love being able to see how the older singers perform and act during their pieces. I got the opportunity to work with Jana Büchner.  It made me feel like I was going somewhere and that I have a chance at being a performer. It’s very helpful to hear other people sing and work with people. The final concert at the Schumann house was awesome. I think I finally understand how much acting I actually need to do if I want to be a professional opera singer.

Arijana Lempke, Undergraduate Soprano

Through this all I have grown as a performer and person, have met wonderful people and made some good connections in the professional world, had the opportunity to perform a duet with the orchestra for the first time, and had the opportunity to be submerged into another culture.

Michelle Monroe, Undergraduate Soprano

This program has given me a new sense of confidence in my vocal and musical abilities, validated my chosen path, and prepared me mentally for the rigors of professional work. Looking ahead to a season of auditions this fall, I don’t think that I could have done anything more personally valuable at this stage in my development as a singer.  I end this program with a tremendous sense of gratitude for the instruction and opportunities I have received, and for the relationships I have built with my fellow singers. I am humbled to be a part of the amazing process of creating music.

Leah Hill, Graduate Soprano

Partner Websites for you to visit:

Mid-Saxony Opera of Freiberg and Döbeln:

City of Freiberg:

Freiberg Technical University (who help sponsor our German Courses and accommodation):

City of Döbeln (in German):

Döbeln Music School (Friends of our program site in German):

German Singer Summer:

German Singer Summer on Facebook: 

Faculty/Staff  |  Instructors and Directors from the USA and Germany:

Dorothy Maddison, Director, received a BM degree St. Olaf College, her MM and DMA in vocal performance at Arizona State University, and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. During her professional career in Europe as a lyric-coloratura soprano, she was a full-time soloist with the Stadttheater of Döbeln, Germany, where she performed the roles of Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta and Stella in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Euridice in Offenbach's Orphée aux Enfers, and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro. She toured Germany singing Christine in the Yeston-Kopit version of Phantom.  Dr. Maddison is co-author of Kein’ Angst Baby!, a book to help singers audition in Germany.   Her discography includes the CD Christmas Art Songs and Songs for Brenda and Bertha featuring the song cycles ME(Brenda Ueland) by Libby Larsen and Brautlieder by Peter Cornelius. She is an full professor of voice and opera at JMU. Off campus, she has performed in concert and oratorio in the USA, England, Germany and with the Camerati Amici Ensemble in Brazil, singing for Vice-President José Alencar at the Portuguese Embassy Palace in Rio de Janeiro. Most recently, she has performed Verdi’s Requiem and Handel’s Messiah in London, England.  She collaborates with composer/pianist Larry Taylor, and has premiered one-woman monodrama/songcycle Marie Curie and the aged Psyche in his opera Eros and Psyche. 

Dorothy Maddison


William Reber, Conductor, and Accompanist-Coach (Session One and Two), earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Opera and Conducting at The University of Texas at Austin.  He is the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Lyric Opera Theatre and Professor of Music at Arizona State University.  From 1993 through 2004, he was head of the vocal coaching program for AIMS (American Institute of Musical Studies), in Graz, Austria. In addition to conducting symphony and chamber orchestra concerts in the United States and Europe, he has served as Music Director/Conductor for more than 125 productions of operas, musicals and ballets. Former Music Director of the Minnesota Opera Studio and conductor for the Minnesota Opera, he also served as conductor and vocal coach for the Altenburger Musiktheater Akademie in Altenburg, Germany.  He was Music Advisor to the StaatsOperette Dresden, Assistant Conductor for Arizona Opera's two productions of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, and a member of the music staff for the Minnesota Dance Theatre. Dr. Reber also served as Music Director for both the Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theatre at California State University, Fullerton, and was a member of the conducting faculty of The University of Texas at Austin where he founded the Chamber Orchestra and conducted productions of the Opera Theatre. As a recital accompanist, he has performed with singers and instrumentalists in Germany, Austria, Macedonia and throughout the United States. A frequent lecturer on opera and symphonic repertory, he has presented lectures to audiences and classes in Macedonia, Austria, Germany and several U. S. cities.  For Arizona Opera, he created and presented introductory lectures for more than twenty different productions and well as a series of special topic lectures for their two productions of Wagner’s Ring.

William Reber

Ronald Ulen is an American baritone of Norwegian heritage. After singing hundreds of performances with the National Opera Company in the U.S., he made his European debut in "Il Trovatore" at the Zürich Opernhaus, followed by appearances at opera houses throughout Europe. He has sung the title roles in Verdi´s "Falstaff", Tschaikowky´s "Eugen Onegin", Bartok´s "Bluebeard’s Castle", Zar Peter I. in Lortzing´s "Zar und Zimmermann" as well as Sharpless in Puccini´s "Madame Butterfly" and Tarquinius in Britten´s "The Rape of Lucretia". Further roles include Germont in Verdi´s "La Traviata", Belcore in "L´Elisir d´Amore", Fifaro and Conte Almaviva in "Le Nozze di Figaro", Valentin in "Faust" und Conte di Luna in "Il Trovatore". Guest appearances in opera und concert have taken Ronald Ulen to the stages and concert halls of New York, Vienna, Rome, Miami, Beijing, Washington, D.C., Hamburg, Chicago, Munich, Tokyo, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and numerous others as soloist in Brahms "Requiem", in Orffs "Carmina Burana", Händels "Messiah", Mendelssohns "Elijah" and Beethovens 9th Symphony, to name just a few. Additional roles are Marcello in Puccini’s "La Boheme", in Paisiello’s "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" as Figaro and Renato in "Un Ballo in Maschera". He has sung the Four Villains in "The Tales of Hoffmann" as well as Miller in "Luisa Miller", Amonasro in “Aida”, Enrico in “Lucia di Lammermoor”, Don Carlo in “La Forza del Destino”. He has enjoyed a great success in several productions as Nabucco. Mr. Ulen is an Artist Teacher of Voice at the Texas State University School of Music while continuing to maintain an active schedule in opera, concert and recital. 

Ron Ulen

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short essay 
  • Audition Videos and Professional Portfolio
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

To be considered for this program, students must fill out 2 applications – one below via the purple APPLY NOW button, and one on the GetAcceptd website: 

Why am I being asked to apply twice?
You MUST apply on both sites to be considered for this program. This is a two-part application because the JMU Terra Dotta website is for personal and confidential information needed to process you as a student for the course. GetAcceptd has more open access for all directors, coaches and teachers, both in Germany and in the USA who need only to see your 'professional' credentials, with the opportunity to upload a live audition video.

We look forward to hearing from you, and if you have any further questions, please contact the course director, Dr. Dorothy Maddison at

Additional Contact Information
For support with JMU's Study Abroad Application (, please For assistance with the Acceptd portal, please contact or call 1-888-275-2122, ext. 2. 

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Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in.

*On this page there are application links to two separate programs. Please be sure to apply to the appropriate program you are considering.

JMU's Undergraduate Student German Opera Experience (Session I - Undergraduate Students) 

apply now 


JMU's Grdauate Student German Opera Experience  (Session II - Graduate Students)

apply now 


Audition Information -

Auditions:  These can be made live and all students will have to apply both through the JMU website as students and through the Acceptd website: to be considered for a role offer.

Live Audition Tours:  February 2018. Details TBA.

Contact Auditions Co-ordinator, Dr. Dorothy Maddison at for further information.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


GER 101: Elementary German I (3 credits)

GER 490: Special Topics: German Literature (3 credits)

MUS 490: Special Studies in German Opera Experience (2 credits)

MUS 690: Special Studies in Music: German Opera Experience (2 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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