Education News

Donald W. Wood, Sr. Vocal Competition is going VIRTUAL


All submissions will be judged with winners announced on Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
Presented by the New Orleans Opera Association in collaboration with Loyola University New Orleans, Tulane University and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.

How to participate in the Virtual 2020 Wood Competition:

  • Download and read the Guidelines and Application instructions below.
  • The Application is a fillable PDF and once you download and complete it, click the Submit button at the bottom of the form.
  • If you are unable to complete the submission process as outlined below, please print out the application, fill out out, scan it and email it to Debby Wood at woodcompetition@
  • Please note, the deadline to participate is midnight, September 8, 2020.



Click here to download a free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

About the Competition

The Wood Competition is in its sixth year as a significant young artist entry vehicle into the professional realm of singing.  Past participants have enjoyed regional, national and international celebrity as young artist professionals. The competition is a collaborative effort between the New Orleans Opera Association, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Tulane University, and Loyola University New Orleans.

All local and regional voice teachers are invited to enter their students for this contest, and the deadline for 2020 is midnight September 8, 2020. Two first-place winners (male and female) will be awarded $1,000 each; two second-place winners (male and female) will receive $500 each. Please download the guidelines and competition application above to share with others.

Created by New Orleans Opera board member, Debby Hirsch Wood in honor of her late husband Donald W. Wood Sr., the Wood family has granted funding for the competition to continue in perpetuity in his name. Donald Wood Sr. loved opera and was supportive of NOOA’s educational endeavors.

The 2020 Judges

Frank Convit

Frank Convit, described as singing with the “poignant power of a seasoned soloist” (Richard Balthazar Blog), has been captivating audiences with his rich timbre and ringing high notes.

Valerie Anne Jones Francis

Valerie Anne Jones Francis is a native of New Orleans and a proud product of the New Orleans Public School System. She is a 1979 graduate of McDonogh #35 where she studied under the capable tutelage of Mrs. Patricia Sallier Seals.

Kenya Lawrence Jackson

Kenya Lawrence Jackson currently serves as the Director of Music and Worship at St. Timothy United Methodist Church in Mandeville, LA where her duties include coordinating a large and diverse music program.

Previous Winners

View the list of the competition winners by year here.

Do you have questions?

Contact Debby Wood, Wood Competition Director (504) 931-3608 or
Dr. William Mouat, Education Director (504) 267-9535 at email:

Education News

Introduction to Opera!


Join New Orleans Opera artists Taylor Ott, Rachel Looney, and Frank Convit in a fun-filled extravaganza of musical theater including light opera and operetta selections as they participate in the 2020 Summer Reading Program from the St. Bernard Parish Library.

The program runs approximately 60 minutes long and can be streamed from June 26 until August 31, 2020.

This is a great opportunity for you and the children in your life to explore music from Donizetti to Sondheim and so much more!

The New Orleans Opera is grateful to the St. Bernard Parish Library for the opportunity to participate in this years Summer Reading Program!

Paid for by funding from a grant from the from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and as administered by the St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs, St. Tammany Parish Government. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, ArtWorks and from a donation from Wayne and Arlette Nunez and the Shell Matching Funds Gift Program.


The New Orleans Opera Association’s Wood Operatic Advancement Grant

The Wood Operatic Advancement Grant (the “WOAG”), a branch of the New Orleans Opera Association’s Donald W. Wood Sr. Vocal Competition (the “Wood Competition”), provides financial assistance to the winners of the Wood Competition to help them in pursuit of their career in the performance area of opera while studying in college or post-graduate studies. The WOAG was the idea of Phyllis Treigle, the Vocal Music Chair at the New Orleans Center of Creative Arts and set in motion by Debby Hirsch Wood (the Founder and Director of the Wood Competition).

The Grant is open only to winners (first, second, or honorable mention) of the Donald W. Wood Sr. Vocal Competition.

The purpose to which the grant will be applied is for expenses relating to the pursuit of the Wood Competition winners’ career in opera performance whether in college or post-graduate studies.

Expenses may include (but are not limited to) travel and related expenses for auditions, coaching, out-of-town studies, performances, college/post-college expenses, meals, or any and all expenses related in pursuit of their degree or career in opera performance. 

The WOAG is solely for the purpose of promoting up-and-coming opera performers.

  • Applications will be accepted for the Fall/Winter WOAG no later than midnight, September 30.   
  • The Fall/Winter WOAG period runs August 1 through January 31.
  • Applications will be accepted for the Spring/Summer WOAG no later than midnight, February 15.
  • The Spring/Summer period runs February 1 through July 31.

A team (chosen by the Director of the WOAG) from the New Orleans Opera Association (the “Team”) will decide recipient(s) of The Grant. The Team will announce the recipient(s) shortly after applications are reviewed and decisions made by the Team.

Any misrepresentation on the application or abuse of stipulation during funding period is cause for disqualification without benefit of appeal.

For more information please contact:

If given this grant, you will need to submit a follow-up brief email to the Founder and Director of The Grant on how the grant empowered you to pursue your operatic vocal career. Your email will be used by the New Orleans Opera Association/Donald W. Wood Sr. Vocal Competition.

You may contact Ms. Wood at (504) 931-3608 with any questions.


Student Night Out

Sponsored by the Louise B. Martin Family Fund

2020-2021 Dates TBA soon!

Through the generous support of our sponsors, we are able to provide FREE tickets to our fully staged dress rehearsals to regional students! Please fill out this form to request Student Night Out tickets for your school group or community-based organization. We are able to provide one (1) free chaperone ticket for every five (5) students who are confirmed to attend.

In the meantime, enjoy this video.

And this one…


Opéra Nouvelle

The remainder of the 2019-2020 Opéra Nouvelle performances are cancelled.

We are working on the 2020-2021 Schedule and can’t wait to share all the exciting news as soon as possible!

September 6, 2019-–7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Carmen and Late 19th Century French Opera: Friday Nights at NOMA!

October 20, 2019 —3:00 p.m. Sculpture Gardens Mixed-Media Concert at NOMA.

January 16, 2020—6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Joan of Arc, Une femme pour les âges: Ogden Museum After Hours!

March 1, 2020—7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Opera Americana and Music to Lift the Spirit: Temple Sinai!

April 7, 2020—7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Star-Blazing Queen, The Magic Flute and Hubble Telescope Images: SECOND ANNUAL Deutsches Haus Kulturabend!

April 18, 2020 — 3:00 p.m.Characters from The Magic Flute at NOMA’s Sculpture Garden

Innovative Connections in 2019-2020 include the literary figure of Carmen, along with the historical figure of Joan of Arc that allows our audiences to witness two women of power. Carmen – originally a creation by Prosper Merimée – is a freedom-loving gypsy who follows her true nature even unto death, as does the real-life Joan of Arc, who was burned at the stake for her leadership and her convictions.  The Temple Sinai concert will feature predominant American composers of opera who were (and are) influenced by jazz and musical theatre legends like Charlie Parker, whose life will be the centerpiece of our early April 2020 opera, Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. Our final offering will be a continuation of the celebration of Austrian composer Mozart and Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) with stunning visual images from the Hubble Telescope in a spectacular feast for the senses!

Guest Speakers and Artists

Join our roster of guest speakers, musicians, and singers, each with a unique perspective on the upcoming operas!

For More Information, Contact:

William Manning Mouat

Director of Education

Phone: 504.267.9535



School Performances

We offer a variety of performances for your school or educational center and can create custom performances and programming as needed.

September through May – bookings dependent on artists’ availability


Opéra Creole Artistic Director Givonna Joseph’s engaging program for grades PK through 12 is designed for piano and voice.  A solo performer will explore a kaleidoscope of African and African-American songs, storytelling, poetry, and spirituals. The program also includes selections from both the Broadway stage and opera. This program is also suitable for adult audiences.

GOALS: A Celebration in Song exposes children and adults to the rich cultural heritage and music of New Orleans and beyond.  It is typically presented as a supplement to the black history month curriculum content for elementary and secondary students.

Hansel and Gretel – Grades Pre-K – 5 & Family groups

Our delightful adaptation of this classic favorite for grades PK – 5 introduced thousands of children to opera and continues to enchant new audiences. The fully staged and costumed reenactment of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale is a perennial favorite.

GOALS: This 50 minute piece is adapted from the Engelbert Humperdinck opera of the same title, and artists are available for a live question and answer session immediately following the performance.  The opera parallels the storyline of the original folk story, which serves an important literacy connection for the targeted grades.

Little Red Riding Hood – Grades Pre-K – 6/Family groups

This fully-staged and costumed touring opera, is designed for grades PK- 6 schoolchildren and also contains humor that parents and teachers will appreciate. The Wolf, the Woodsman, Mother and Grandmother are hilarious re-creations of the classic storybook characters. The title character is wise beyond her years and has a LOT of surprises in store for the not-so-wily wolf.

GOALS: This 44 minute piece was composed for elementary students and artists are available for a live question and answer session immediately following the performance.  The “safety first” aspect of the storyline, which emphasizes that children should not speak to strangers, is instructive and valuable – especially for younger elementary grades – yet it does not detract from the comedy and musical variety!


School Programming

We offer a variety of educational programs for your school or learning center and create custom curriculum as needed and programs are available for booking from September through May.


We offer students in middle and high school the opportunity to build operas from traditional or original storylines. These are based upon original plays that are written and performed by students or other dramatic or popular literature. The sky is the limit! This program is most suitable for grades 6-12.

GOALS: Build An Opera gives students the opportunity to add musical subtext and original melodies to pre-prepared theatrical presentations.  Students acquire confidence in public speaking, as they enhance and augment their performance capabilities.


We give students in grades 3 through 5 the opportunity to add poetry-slam components and hip-hop moves to operatic and musical theater works. Hip-Hopera is a process-oriented class that combines song, story and choreography; thus sessions typically range from three to five weeks. The program includes a performance component at the end of the workshops, and the performance will be presented for peers, parents, teachers and administrators.

GOALS:  Within a contemporary and popular artistic medium, students gain social skills and performing confidence in music and dance.


Students in grades 4 through 6 are given the opportunity to prepare and perform opera and dance excerpts within specific multi-cultural situations and contexts.  Current programs include the Habanera for marimbas and voice as well as Caribbean music in modern jazz folk songs.

GOALS:  This program is based upon specialized curriculum designs in geography, social studies and histories of non-Western cultures. Musical and dance components with voices and indigenous instruments of the respective cultures comprise the culminating class exercise.


Advanced High School voice and choral students, grades 9-12 sing individual (solo) selections which are coached by our guest artists and staff.

GOALS:  Students explore the stylistic nuances and performance practices based upon pre-prepared vocal selections.  This is especially useful for students who are preparing selections for contests, collegiate auditions, recitals, opera or musical theater roles, or summer programs.


We offer musicology (music-history) master classes for high school students (grades 9-12) with a five day-seminar series.  Students gain a historical perspective to further their understanding of the opera they will attend for individual Student Night Out Performances. The cost for the five-day seminar is $250.00.

GOALS:  This program is specifically designed to create historical, cultural and musical context for Student Night Out performances. This allows the students who attend the performances to gain a comprehensive understanding of geopolitical and/or sociological events that occurred during the opera composer’s lifetime. We also explore specific musical genres and artistic trends that occurred during the time-frame of the opera.