Canadian opera “Choir Practice” makes first United States premiere at Georgia Southern

The full cast of "Choir Practice," a Canadian opera that made its American debut at Georgia Southern University. The GS Opera received a letter of congratulations from the composer, Stephen Chatman, and the librettist, Tara Wohlberg, two weeks before the premiere.

Shiann Sivell

The Georgia Southern Opera put on the first United States premiere of Canadian opera “Choir Practice” in the Foy Building’s Carter Recital Hall Oct. 13.

“Choir Practice” was composed by Canadian composer Stephen Chatman and lyricized by writer, poet and educator Tara Wohlberg in 2016. The opera is set in Vancouver, Canada in 1985 and features a dysfunctional, zany choir community preparing for an upcoming choral festival.

The GS Opera received a letter of congratulations from the composer, Stephen Chatman, and the librettist, Tara Wohlberg, two weeks before the start of the performance, Director of Voice Briana Sosenheimer said.

“We didn’t know it was the U.S. premier until [Wohlberg] contacted the school,” Sosenheimer said. “[Chatman] contacted me and said ‘good luck.’ They wished they could fly to Georgia but weren’t able to.”

The premiere was also Sosenheimer’s first major opera as a director.

“I have done only small workshop premieres. I have never actually had a premiere of a full work,” Sosenheimer said. “I was so excited, and then I was like, ‘This is a little nerve-wracking. I really want this to be great.’ Not that I didn’t want this to be great before, but it’s a little bit more pressure.”

Sosenheimer said that being part of the U.S. premiere is a good résumé-building opportunity for the students involved.

Shiann Sivell, The George-Anne Enterprise Reporter, [email protected]