The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: University Opera wins a national award for its 2014 production of Benjamin Britten’s “Albert Herring.” Plus, Emanuel Ax will perform Beethoven, instead of Franck and Strauss, with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. | January 16, 2016

ALERT: Pianist Emanuel Ax has changed his program with the Madison Symphony Orchestra on March 11-13. He will perform the Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58, by Ludwig van Beethoven instead of the Symphonic Variations by Cesar Franck and the Burleske by Richard Strauss. Also on the program, to be conducted by MSO music director John DeMain, is the “Colas Breugnon” Overture by Dmitry Kabalevsky and the Symphony No. 4 by Gustav Mahler with soprano soloist Alisa Jordheim.

By Jacob Stockinger

This Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m., in the Meeting House of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, there will be an Opera Props benefit to help support University Opera.

Here is a link with more information about the event, the performers — including UW alumnus and guest Broadway “Barihunk” Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek (below) as well as UW students — and the program, which includes a reception:

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek baritone

If you are wondering how good the cause is, you might want to know that the University Opera just won a national award from the National Opera Association for its 2014 production of Benjamin Britten’s operaAlbert Herring” (below, in a photo by Michael R. Anderson). 

University Opera Albert Herring Michael R. Anderson

The production was directed by visiting guest opera director, from New York City, David Ronis (below, in a photo by Luke Delalio), who is an applicant in the current search for a permanent full-time head of the opera program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. Kyle Knox, a graduate student, was the conductor and music director.

This is the first such award for the UW-Madison but the fourth for David Ronis.

David Ronis color CR Luke DeLalio

Here is a link to a past posting with more about Ronis and the prize-winning production:

Here is a link to the UW-Madison‘ s “A Tempo” blog that has the full story about the award and other links as well as a lot of photos:



  1. I have been a subscriber for some time, but recently am not receiving. Your website will not allow me to reenter my email address. Will yiu please reset me? My email address is
    Thank you.
    Diane Wilkinson

    Comment by Diane Wilkinson — February 10, 2016 @ 5:56 pm

  2. One possible solution for such competitions in the future: bar judges/chairs from the group of schools presenting operas. I am sure there are lots of people out there in the opera world who are well qualified and who would be wiling to participate in this event and who do not have “a horse in the race”.

    Comment by fflambeau — January 16, 2016 @ 11:08 pm

  3. Congratulations to the win for UW Opera. They won 3rd place in Division III of the National Opera Association Competition.

    Intrigued by this, I looked for some more information and found something a bit disturbing (this would be either unethical or considered giving the appearance of being unethical in some fields). Fortunately, it has nothing to do with UW.

    The National Opera Association Competition was chaired by one Kenneth Wood. The winner of the Division I competition, as announced by NOA, was none other than a Kenneth Wood directed production of Gilbert & Sullivan at Virginia Commonwealth University.

    True, the judges for that division did not include Mr. Wood but since he was the Chair of the overall competition, isn’t this a bit much?

    From the NOA web site:

    “OPC Committee: Anne Basinski, Dawn Harris, Mary Kay McGarvey, Richard Poppino, Christine Seitz, Jacque Trussel, Kenneth Wood (chair)

    Division I Judges: Marc Callahan, Karen Esquivel, Christine Meadows

    1st place – The Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan

    Produced by Melanie Day at Virginia Commonwealth University

    Directed by Kenneth Wood”

    Comment by fflambeau — January 16, 2016 @ 2:44 am

    • Great sleuthing.
      Thank you

      Comment by welltemperedear — January 16, 2016 @ 8:30 am

      • Not to be confused with Kenneth Woods, UW alumnus and conductor in England.

        Comment by Steve Rankin — January 16, 2016 @ 11:05 am

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