Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 2020

Document Type



Dykes, Skyler. Civic Practice 101: A guide for the 21st-century opera professor. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. May 2020.


Copyright Skyler Dykes 2020.


In 2015, OPERA America made “Increasing Civic Impact” the theme of its annual conference in Washington, D.C. As the leading voice for the promotion of opera in the United States, this decision marked the beginning of a new era in opera engagement - a shift not yet reflected in collegiate opera curricula. Accordingly, this thesis serves as a guide for opera professors interested in introducing their students to the principles of civic practice. The guide is divided into three chapters. The first chapter defines and contextualizes civic practice in the U.S. opera industry. The second chapter examines civic practice in action, highlighting engagement programming at Opera Omaha and Opera Memphis. The third chapter identifies three ideas at the core of civic practice in the opera industry and how these can be incorporated into existing opera curricula. The contents of this project draw upon interviews conducted with opera artists and administrators, as well as a review of literature on civic practice and community engagement in the U.S. opera industry.