Katherine Syer comes to us from the School of Music where her research and teaching have focused on opera and its production, the creative process, and European cultural history from the mid-eighteenth century to the present. A 2014 recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award from the College of Fine and Applied Arts, she served as artistic advisor for the play 33 Variations by Moisés Kaufman, which premiered at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and played on Broadway in 2009.
Several of Prof. Syer’s publications explore Richard Wagner’s dramatic art. Her book Wagner’s Visions: Poetry, Politics, and the Psyche in the Operas through “Die Walküre” appeared in the Eastman Studies in Music series in 2014. Wagner’s Visions received numerous glowing reviews with Musical Times calling it “Accomplished and absorbing. . . . One of the strongest recent contributions to Wagner studies.” Wagner Notes celebrated the book as “a major contribution to the scholarship on the first half of Wagner’s career.” Choice extolled her “well-written narrative” and “unique insight into the early works,” which shed “new light on the complex psychological elements” and on “the creative strategies that set the political tone for the later works.”
Prof. Syer‘s current research focuses on opera staging and design in the 21st century. Prof. Syer‘s teaching includes Dramaturgy, Research Methods, Theatre History, Opera Production History, Contemporary Music Theatre, and special topics.
The recipient of a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2007-2008 and 2009-2010), Prof. Syer has been affiliated with the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and was a guest research professor at the Musik und Kunst Privatuniversität der Stadt Wien while on sabbatical (2016-2017).
Prof. Syer is the Director of Graduate Studies for Illinois Theatre.