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Lusmann creates digital opera for Harold Haugh Award performance

Voice professor Stephen Lusmann was awarded the SMTD 2020 Harold Haugh Award for Excellence in Studio Teaching.

“I am enormously honored to be recognized by my colleagues for the 2020 Harold Haugh Award,” said Lusmann. Studio teaching, particularly with students that have a desire to go on to professional performing careers is my passion.”

Founded in 1975 in honor Professor of Music and leading oratorio soloist Harold Haugh, the award is presented annually by SMTD to a faculty member in composition, jazz and contemporary improvisation, organ, piano, string, voice, or winds and percussion, for exceptional studio teaching.

“During his tenure at SMTD, Stephen Lusmann continues to distinguish himself as a masterful teacher and insightful pedagogue of vocal technique,” said Chair of the Department of Voice Prof. Scott Piper, who nominated Lusmann for the award. “Over the course of nearly 20 years of service in the applied teaching studio, Prof. Lusmann has produced impeccable results. His effective recruiting of graduate students, in particular, has served the Department of Voice well in opera performance and proven immensely beneficial to the balancing of voices required in campus choral ensembles. Upon leaving U-M, his students are routinely cast in productions at the local, national, and international level. Among graduates of his studio you will find finalists and winners of the most prestigious vocal competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition.”

Recipients of the Harold Haugh Award receive a $5,000 prize and are traditionally celebrated with a public performance and lecture by the honoree. This year, due to COVID-19, Lusmann has created a socially distanced, dramatically staged digital version of his newly created version of Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème, titled The Bohemians.

The Bohemians tells the story of a love affair between a poor poet and an equally poor seamstress in 19th century Paris. The opera is based on a book by Henri Murger called Scenes from Bohemian Life. Lusmann created this version with young artists programs in mind. Most American programs have four singers and for this reason, Lusmann’s version reduces the cast from eight soloists and a chorus to four soloists—Mimi, Rudolfo, Musetta, and Marcello. He also reduced the length of the opera from over two hours to an hour. 

“My goal is to introduce new audiences to opera as well as provide young singers their first professional performing experiences,” said Lusmann. “Through this process, I have discovered a new interest in creating more hour-long versions of popular operas in modern day English translation. A warm hearted thank you to all those that are responsible for this award and those that have made The Bohemians possible.” 

The Bohemians
An abbreviated version of La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Gueseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica

Contemporary English translation and musical adaptation by Stephen Lusmann
Produced by Stephen Lusmann
Directed by Maryanne Telese

Mimi – Jennifer Creswell
Rudolfo – Leon Hamlin
Musetta – Caitlin Lynch
Marcello – Jonatan Latch

Jean Schneider, piano