School of Music adds two internationally recognized opera singers to voice faculty

Brian Barasch
March 16, 2017

When the final curtain came down on DePaul Opera Theatre's production of "Suor Angelica" and "Gianni Schicchi" Sunday afternoon, most vocal performance students found themselves in a moment of bittersweet closure. After months of rehearsal, the performance weekend had come and gone. But despite the crestfallen emotion that often accompanies the end of a production, many of these same music students were excited to learn about the addition of two new opera faculty members.

Last week the DePaul School of Music announced that Nicole Cabell and Christopher Magiera, both internationally recognized and highly acclaimed opera performers, are the most recent additions to its vocal performance and opera faculty. They will join the school as tenure track assistant professors this fall.

Cabell, a lyric soprano and the 2005 winner of the BBC Singer of the World Competition in Cardiff, is a Decca recording artist with multiple high-profile engagements each year. She recently sang the role of Bess in Gershwin's classic "Porgy and Bess" at the Sydney Opera House, along with past appearances in the title role of Alcina at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Violetta in "La Traviata" at London's Royal Opera House, and Micaela in "Carmen" at both the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, among others. She is currently a visiting professor at the DePaul School of Music and will assume the role of tenure track assistant professor in the fall.

Magiera, a baritone with a busy performance schedule, has performed as The Captain in John Adams' "The Death of Klinghoffer" with the English National Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Valentin in "Faust" and Zurga in "Les Pêcheurs de Perles" with Santa Fe Opera, the title role in "Eugene Onegin" with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Figaro in "Il barbiere di Siviglia" with the Dresden Semperoper, and the title role in "Don Giovanni" with Opera Colorado. Magiera was a National Grand Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera's National Council Auditions, a finalist in Placido Domingo's Operalia World Opera Competition, and a Grand Prize winner of the Sullivan Foundation. He grew up on Chicago's North Shore.

"The addition of Nicole and Christopher to our faculty will elevate an already high level of professional mentorship provided to our students," says Ronald Caltabiano, dean of the School of Music. "While both of these performers will share their vast technical and artistic expertise, they will also provide savvy guidance on navigating what can often be an extremely challenging industry."

Cabell echoes these sentiments, having become keenly aware of how a practical approach to the music business can only enhance a young musician's ability to break into the industry and flourish.

"I will continue to pass on what I learn and experience through this strenuous career to the next generation of students," Cabell says. "We are witnessing the evolution of the classical musical business, and it's equally important to be knowledgeable of the demands made of singers from a business perspective as well as teaching the fundamentals of becoming a superior artist."

With the opening of the school's new 185,000-square-foot facility just over a year away, neither of these two performers will have long to wait until they're able to offer instruction in an environment built specifically for music making.

"The DePaul School of Music is on the cusp of another great moment in its history," Magiera says. "The wonderful faculty, led by Dean Caltabiano, is energetic and truly skilled. The new building will offer great spaces for rehearsals and performances that will benefit both the students and the community at large."

Since its founding in 1912, DePaul's School of Music has become an international center for artistic and technical training in the musical arts. Its new facility will include a 505-seat concert hall, two recital halls and a jazz hall, as well as teaching studios and rehearsal spaces. A later phase will include the renovation of the existing Concert Hall into a stunningly revived venue for operas and vocal performances.

Cabell is already picturing that future and making plans for how to best prepare her students while simultaneously enriching the school itself.

"There is so much for our young singers to learn and experience, and I intend to continue in DePaul's tradition of creating well-rounded artists who graduate capable of thinking creatively," she says. "Through extremely focused, invigorating studio work, we are giving them the foundation to feel confident in the creation of their own careers.  In the future I see DePaul expanding its performance opportunities, deepening our students' knowledge of the music business, and becoming even more visible as the prestigious institution it is. My passion and mission is to play an active role in these pursuits."

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Christopher Magiera

Opera performer Christopher Magiera will join the DePaul University School of Music voice faculty this fall as an assistant professor. (Christie Pham)