Opera: Dark River

Mary D. Watkins: Dark River - the Fannie Lou Hamer Story

In April 2014, Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra will be presenting a production of the opera "Dark River, the Fannie Lou Hamer Story" by Mary D. Watkins. This is in collaboration with WomenArts, a non-profit organization that promotes women artists and the art they produce.

Set in one of the most remarkable and turbulent periods of American history, "Dark River: The Fannie Lou Hamer Story" explores the civil rights era from the point of view Fannie Lou Hamer, the daughter of sharecroppers with only a sixth grade education, who became a leader in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. This full-length opera by Mary Watkins focuses on Fannie Lou Hamer’s early influences, how she came to be involved in civil rights, her work in the movement, and the effect on her personal life.

Consisting of 2 acts and 22 scenes, the opera is structured as an ensemble piece. It is sung by a 12 member ensemble and 2 lead singers. Although the music is in a classical format, it is infused with distinctive flavors of jazz, blues and gospel, an interweaving of diverse styles that reflects the times perfectly.

Composer: Mary D. Watkins
Conductor: Tian Hui Ng
Director: Darryl V. Jones
Producer: Martha Richards

For ticket purchase: Dark River Opera Brown Paper Tickets

Women Arts

Important Dates

  • Music Rehearsals: March 10 – 16, 2014
  • Staging Rehearsals: March 17 – 31, 2014
  • Technical Rehearsals: April 1 – 2, 2014
  • Dress Rehearsal: April 3, 2014
  • Performance Dates: April 4 – 5, 2014 (2 shows)

All rehearsals and performances are at Mount Holyoke College, 50 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075.

This is a paid production. In addition, the production will cover accommodation for the full duration of the production and a modest travel allowance for a return journey to South Hadley, MA

Roles Available

Lead Roles

  • 1 African-American Female Lead Soprano
  • 1 African-American Male Lead Baritone

Ensemble Roles (Minor Characters and Chorus)

  • 1 African-American Female Ensemble Soprano
  • 2 African-American Female Ensemble Altos
  • 1 White Female Ensemble Alto
  • 2 African-American Male Ensemble Tenors
  • 1 African-American Male Ensemble Baritone
  • 1 African-American Male Ensemble Bass
  • 2 White Male Ensemble Tenors
  • 2 White Male Ensemble Baritones

Children's Roles (*Auditions only available in South Hadley, MA)

  • 2 African-American Female Child Sopranos

Audition Information

All auditions will take place in Boston, MA, New York, NY and South Hadley, MA at the following times and locations.

Saturday, October 12 from 10:00am-5:00pm

Rm711 (Beverly Sills Studio)
The National Opera Center (Opera America)
330 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10001

Sunday, October 13 from 11:00am-5:00pm

Rm 106 College of Fine Arts
Boston University
855 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

Sunday, October 20 from 1:00-6:00pm

Warbeke Room, Pratt Hall
Mount Holyoke College
50 College Street
South Hadley, MA 01075

Audition Requirements

Please sign up for an audition via our online audition form. Only online applications are available for this opportunity. You will be asked to provide the following items on the form:

  • Personal Details: First Name, Last Name, Voice Type, Age
  • Contact Details: Email address, Contact Number, Street Address
  • Preferred Audition Time
    There are two blocks of audition times available each day. Please choose your preferred time and we will try to allocate your 5 – 10min audition according to your preference. Please note that you will be notified via email regarding your allocated time.
  • Education Background:  List schools, year of graduation, degree, major and principal teachers
  • Audition Repertoire
    If you are auditioning for a leading role, please prepare two contrasting arias: at least one aria should be in English. If you are auditioning for an ensemble role, please prepare one aria in English. Please include the following details: composer, title of aria, name of the opera it is from, and name of the role it is sung by. An accompanist will be provided at the audition. You are welcome to bring your own accompanist.
  • Attach Audition Repertoire:  Upload a pdf scan of piano-vocal score of the aria you intend to sing.
  • Headshot:  Upload a color headshot of yourself, in jpg, tif or pdf formats.
  • Resume:  A minimum of one professional reference
  • Links to videos of your singing:  please include if you cannot make it to any of our audition times

The application deadline is Tuesday, October 8, 2013 for New York and Boston auditions. The application deadline is Tuesday, October 15, 2013 for South Hadley, MA. Although the online application form will still be available after this date, we can only grant auditions depending on the availability of audition slots.

Go to Online Audition Form