Lyric Opera Theater announces new interim director

 

(Left) Tyler J Gasper (Angel), Devin Barad (Collins) and Philip Morgan (Roger), listen to Jesse Thomas Foster (Benny)'s business plan for a new art studio at a dress rehearsal of “Rent”. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

(Left) Tyler J Gasper (Angel), Devin Barad (Collins) and Philip Morgan (Roger), listen to Jesse Thomas Foster (Benny)’s business plan for a new art studio at a dress rehearsal of “Rent”. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

 

Dale Dreyfoos, professor of opera and musical theater in the ASU School of Music, was announced the interim director of ASU’s Lyric Opera Theater for the coming academic year on Thursday following former director William Reber’s resignation earlier in the week.

Heather Landes, the interim director of the ASU School of Music, said in an email, “Dr. Reber has not been forced to resign from ASU or asked to step down as director; rather, he voluntarily stepped down from his administrative post. This was his decision, and we respect it. He will remain on the faculty teaching, conducting and mentoring students in the Lyric Opera Theatre program.”

The resignation comes after a firestorm in news media and social media over a controversial performance for the All-State music festival of a scene from the musical “Rent,” “La Ve Boheme.”

 

 

“Before he made his decision, Dr. Reber implemented a new protocol for the review of performance content for external appearances like the All-State Concert in the future to insure that the performers are aware of their audience and have chosen content suitable for that audience,” Landes said.

In an interview with The State Press last week, Dreyfoos spoke of preserving the past and reinforcing the future of musical theater and opera. “I’m hopeful that the program will continue to grow and there will continue be a real student interest in what we do as opposed to the general public, certainly the aging general public, that is most of our audience right now,” he said. “I’m really fearful that unless there is a major shift in consciousness in teaching in the public schools these kinds of art forms will be lost.”

Dreyfoos has been with Lyric Opera Theater for 19 years, and he collaborates with Toby Yatsu mainly in the direction of opera performances, but he has directed musicals as well.

Additionally, Dreyfoos stressed the importance of Yatsu in helping to update the curriculum in the face of a changing job market for musical theater and opera graduates from the Lyric Opera Theater program.

“It’s difficult (to update the curriculum) within the scope of a university. We can’t offer as many of the core curricular courses as we’d like to because the students still have to have ‘x’ number of hours of general studies,” he said.

Reach the Opinion Editor at pnorthfe@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @peternorthfelt