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The Kennedy Center

Opera Institute

Faculty & Guest Presenters

Through the extensive connections of a world-class opera company and a top university, Opera Institute at American University has an impressive team of faculty members and guest presenters. These hand-picked professionals are among the talented and accomplished in their fields, and are dedicated to working with young musicians.

Because classes are kept deliberately small, students get a maximum of individual attention and have the opportunity to study with multiple coaches.

"I learned so much, and it was wonderful to interact with such a professional group of instructors and musicians! My musical ability has improved tremendously!" - A former Opera Institute student

Cindy OxberryCindy Oxberry serves as Opera Institute's director and senior faculty member; she has been working with the program for seventeen years. Ms. Oxberry is an opera director who earned her bachelor's degree in opera theatre at The Hartt School and her master's degree in voice from Manhattan School of Music. She pursued a career as a professional singer, singing a diversity of roles with companies such as New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Central City Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and the Connecticut Opera Association. Now a full-time director, Ms. Oxberry works around the country with numerous opera companies, festivals, and universities and colleges directing, judging competitions, teaching master classes, and training the next generation of young singers.

Patrick O'DonnellPatrick O'Donnell, vocal coach, earned his BA from Yale University, his MM in Piano Performance from the University of Maryland, and his DMA in Chamber Music and Vocal Accompaniment with Martin Katz and Eckart Sellheim at the University of Michigan. Concert appearances in the Washington, DC area include the White House, the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater and Millennium Stage, the Library of Congress, and the Embassies of France, Italy, Monaco, Columbia, and Brazil. As a lecturer on art song, he helped design and teach a course entitled, "Arts Songs, a Guided Tour--Lecture and Live Performances" sponsored by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. For opera, he has presented pre-concert lectures for the Washington Concert Opera, and he has given presentations on opera, music theater, and cabaret for the Smithsonian's Resident Artist Program. He enjoys collaborating on fund-raising concerts for the Washington Concert opera, a highlight of which was a performance in March 2011 with acclaimed mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. Dr. O'Donnell has appeared as a master coach and featured guest artist at the Fairbanks (Alaska) Summer Arts Festival, and serves as head vocal coach of the Washington National Opera's Opera Institute at American University, where he also teaches opera history. He is currently on the faculty of Levine Music and also teaches at George Washington University, where he has served as music director for several university productions including Anyone Can Whistle, Hair, Sweeney Todd, Urinetown, and A Little Night Music. He was featured in the university's production of The Cradle Will Rock where he appeared on-stage in the role of the composer, Marc Blitzstein. As a member of the voice faculty at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, Dr. O'Donnell coaches singers in both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and this year has been teaching a survey course in American Musical Theater.

Under the leadership of Ms. Oxberry and Dr. O'Donnell, Opera Institute faculty and students create together an encouraging and professional environment that has been inspiring young musicians for more than a decade.

Learn more about our other faculty members and guest presenters.

Class of 2010 with Evelyn Lear, soprano

Opera Institute students with renowned baritone and master class presenter Richard Stillwell