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Opera, Lieder, Language and Culture of Germany: Summer Music Program for Singers, Pianists, and Conductors


Freiberg, Germany

Program Description

Approximately 20 Students will be selected by audition to come to Germany and perform as soloists, repetiteurs, conductors, understudies and chorus in works below. Opportunities are also available for student instrumentalists and students interested in theater administration and technical production. Rehearsals will begin approximately during the week of May 18th. The course includes 60 hours of Conversational German and a two and a half week seminar on Johannes Brahms with Eckart Sellheim.

Students enrolled in Session One will have the following opportunities:

Arias and Scenes in the Bergstadtfest concert with the Middle-Saxony Orchestra.

Chorus in the Middle-Saxony Opera’s mainstage production Der Vogelhandler on the Kriebstein Outdoor Lake theater.

Roles in student productions (depending on voice types enrolled)

Zehn Mädchen und Kein Man(Franz von Suppé)

Herr von Schönhahn: Baritone

Danubiz: Soprano

Hidalga: Soprano

Britta: Soprano

Maschinka: Soprano

Pommaria: Soprano

Almina: Soprano

Limonia: Soprano

Giletta: Soprano

Marinka: Soprano

Preziosa: Soprano

Sidonia: Soprano

Agamemmnon Paris: Tenor

Gianni Schicchi(Giacomo Puccini)

Gianni Schicchi: Baritone

Lauretta, his daughter: Soprano

Zita, cousin of Buoso Donati: Contralto

Rinuccio, Zita's nephew: Tenor

Gherardo, Buoso's nephew: Tenor

Nella, Gherardo's wife: Soprano

Gherardino, their son: Soprano or treble

Betto di Signa, Buoso's brother-in-law: Bass

Simone, cousin of Buoso: Bass

Marco, Simone's son: Baritone

La Ciesca, Marco's wife: Mezzo-soprano

Maestro Spinelloccio, a doctor: Bass

Ser Amantio di Nicolao, a notary: Baritone

Pinellino, a cobbler: Bass

Guccio, a dyer: Bass

Location Description

Freiberg has a late-medieval city center, with narrow alleyways and cobble-stone streets. The Freiberg Technical University, as well as the intimate 300-seat Mid-Saxony Opera theater provide the educational and artistic base for the former silver mining capital which created the original wealth of near-by Dresden. Points of historical interest include the oldest and most important silver mine of Saxony "Reiche Zeche'' (rich mine), as well as the cathedral St. Marien, where an original Silbermann organ (famous as the organ builder for Bach) is still used regularly for concerts and worship.


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

  1. Do I have to enroll for academic credits?  Yes. You will also be enrolled as a short-term Foreign student at the University of Freiberg.  Credit is offered on both an undergraduate and graduate level.
  2. How old should I be to do this course? The course has accommodated students from freshman level college students up through mature adults who are ready to look for professional work in Germany.
  3. Will this course get me a job in Germany?  Yes if you are ready.  No if you are not.  Each voice will fit into a particular vocal category which matures at a different time.  If you are in your late teens to mid-twenties, the chances of getting a full-time job as a soloist are probably unrealistic.  However, if you fall into that category, this summer course gives you a chance to learn what it would be like to work in a professional opera house once you are ready, as well as giving you a chance to make friends and contacts for future visits to the country with the most opera houses in the world.  You’ll also have the chance to develop basic conversational skills that will be valuable to you in the future.
  4. What music should I prepare?  Contact Dr. Dorothy Maddison for further details to discuss what is appropriate for audition and repertoire during the summer course.
  5. Will there be time on the weekends to travel?  No.  The weekends will be for excursions to see shows and tour for additional performances.  The best alternative is to plan to stay in Europe after the course is completed to take time to visit friends and/or relatives or to tour on your own.
  6. Do I have to speak German?  Not before you go, but it would be a good idea to study a little if you have time.  You will learn basic conversational German while you are there.
  7. What will the weather be like?  During the first two weeks of the course, it will still be early spring weather in Germany, and you should plan to bring a winter coat, hat, mittens and rain gear, including an umbrella.  An equal amount of winter and summer clothing is advised.
  8. Should I bring stage make-up and stage shoes?  Yes.
  9. What should I do about airfare?  You are responsible for your airfare, but we will be working with Lincoln Travel in Bridgewater to find a reasonable group rate for a flight that you can purchase individually between Washington and Dresden.  This flight will be met at the airport to transport you to Chemnitz.
  10. What is the accommodation like? The student housing in Freiberg is NOT luxury hotel living; it is a dormitory associated with the local “Berufsschule” where German and Foreign Students associated with the University of Freiberg are housed for short-term stays.  Each apartment has a kitchenette with an eating area and a shared bathroom with 2-3 bedrooms.  Some rooms also have a living room with a TV, but not all.  Linens and a few small towels are provided, as well as a limited selection of cooking and eating utensils.  Some bedrooms are single rooms and some are shared with one other student.
  11. What do we need to do about health and travel insurance?  JMU will purchase health insurance for you as part of your course fee, and you will pay for any trips to doctors and hospitals yourself, keep receipts and apply to the insurance company for a refund.  The JMU health insurance is not optional.  It is strongly suggested that you take travel insurance to cover the cost of emergency or last-minute changes to your airfare which may occur. 
  12. How will transportation during the work? On a day-to-day basis the program provides second-hand bicycles for you to ride within the city of Freiberg.  For excursions outside of Freiberg, mini-vans and cars are rented.  It is advised that you bring appropriate gear for riding bicycles on rainy days as well as good walking shoes!
  13. Can my relatives and friends come and stay in the apartment with me?  No.  If you relatives or friends come you must make separate arrangements for housing with them.  JMU will not accept responsibility for housing anyone else in the dormitory during your stay there.
  14. What Music should I bring?  During the first session, we arrange solo concerts for you as well as the work with the opera company.  You should also bring a selection of “party pieces” in American English by American composers, and this can include Musical Theater selections.  Contact Dr. Maddison for further ideas.
  15. What textbooks will I need?  You should plan to purchase
    1. A copy of the opera score with the roles you will be assigned.
    2. A German Dictionary with International Phonetic Alphabet symbols.
    3. A small, portable German Grammar textbook for reference, since the German Language classes will all be taught in German!


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

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 associate professor of voice and opera at JMU, and recently appeared with the wind symphony under the direction of Patrick Rooney at the Kennedy Center. Off campus, she has performed in concert and oratorio in the USA, England, Germany and in October of 2007 she performed with the Camerati Amici Ensemble in Brazil, singing for Vice-President José Alencar at the Portuguese Embassy Palace in Rio de Janeiro. 

William Reber, Conductor, and Accompanist-Coach (Session One), 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.

Eckart Sellheim (Session One Collaborative Artist Coach) . received his musical training in Germany and Switzerland; Adolf Drescher and Jakob Gimpel were among his teachers. He was appointed to the faculty of the two major conservatories in Cologne and continued his academic career as an Assistant Professor of Piano and Chamber Music at the University of Michigan. From 1989 until 2008 he was Professor and Director of Collaborative Piano at Arizona State University. He also served as a Guest Lecturer of Fortepiano and Performance Practice at various music academies in Germany (most notably at the Musikhochschule in Trossingen) and taught numerous master classes in the United States and in several European countries. Sellheim maintains an active performance schedule, having made concert tours in the USA, Latin America and the Carribean, the Middle East, Africa, and throughout Europe. He appears regularly on radio programs in the USA and abroad and has made more than 20 recordings as piano and fortepiano soloist and collaborative pianist, among them a great number with his late brother, celebrated German cellist Friedrich-Juergen Sellheim.

Anne Elgar Kopta, (Guest Lecturer) is a soprano and associate professor of Music in voice, at Arizona State University  Herberger College School of Music. Under the stage name of Anne Elgar, she regularly appeared in leading roles with the New York City Opera and the opera companies of San Francisco, San Diego, Houston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Wichita.Her credits include Violetta in La Traviata, Gilda in Rigoletto, Mimi in La Boheme, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Blonde in The Abduction from the Seraglio, Pamina in The Magic Flute, Rosina in Barber of Seville, Baby Doe in The Ballad of Baby Doe, Abigail in The Crucible, and Sister Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites, among many others. She created the role of Margaret in the world premier of Lizzie Borden by Jack Beeson, a work commissioned by the New York City Opera. The original cast album released on Desto Records has recently been reissued on CDs by Composers Recordings, Inc./CRI. Miss Anne Elgar has also recorded opera by Rossini and Meyerbeer on the Vanguard (reissued on CDs) and the HRE labels. Under the sponsorship of Columbia Artists' Community Concerts Series, she was a popular recitalist. There were also many guest appearances at Tanglewood, Chautauqua, Caramoor, Newport, Saratoga and other summer music festivals.For more than 20 years, she has taught at major universities during the academic year and devoted the other months to summer music schools in Austria, Italy, Israel, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Formerly, Professor Kopta was a regular faculty member of the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. Her master classes at Mexico's National Conservatory of Music have become an annual event, and have resulted in special appreciation of ASU’s School of Music among students and faculty there.

Related Internet sites 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):

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 
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU and first semester transfer students.

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

Online Application Coming Soon

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


GER 101: Elementary German I (3 credits) (SESSION 1)

GER 490: Conversational German (3 credits) (SESSION 1)

MUS 490: Special Studies in Music: Opera, Lieder, Language, and Culture of Germany (3 credits) (SESSION 1)

MUS 690: Special Studies in Music: Opera, Lieder, Language, and Culture of Germany (2 credits) (SESSION 1)

MUS 490: Special Studies in Music: Lieder Of Richard Strauss (2 credits) (SESSION 2)

MUS 690: Special Studies in Music: Lieder Of Richard Strauss (1 credit) (SESSION 2)

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.