Syer-KatherineKatherine 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, which dovetails well with the interests of design and production students at Illinois Theatre. Her portfolio in Theatre will grow our developing Interdisciplinary MA/PhD in Theatre Studies–in concert with affiliate doctoral faculty from several units across campus. Prof. Syer‘s teaching includes Dramaturgy, Opera Production HistoryContemporary Music Theatre, and topics related to the social relevance and cultural impact of Opera in the United States and abroad. In addition to her work for Illinois Theatre, she will continue to offer one course per year in the School of Music.

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. She was a guest research professor at the Musik und Kunst Privatuniversität der Stadt Wien while on sabbatical (2016-2017), also lecturing in Milan and Moscow and carrying out research in theatres across Europe.  
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