I love it! It's very funny, very accessible and a lot of fun! I WILL be doing it again!
- Dr. Brian Nedvin, Old Dominion University
"The Worst One Ever is a great introduction to the genre of opera as well as college/dorm life. Even better, it makes a fabulous I act opera to take out into the High Schools for recruitment purposes! Audiences just love this show! I've gotten more audience response from The Worst One Ever than I have from any opera scene I have performed or directed in my 18+ years of working in this genre. Gary Belshaw's score is very accessible to undergraduate students. It has moments of lyricism, drama, comedy and most importantly for today's young people, it is filled with moments that all young people can relate to: grades, Dads, and misguided boyfriends! My students keep asking me when we're going to perform the piece again."
- Dr. Jeff Kensmoe, Birmingham Southern College Opera, formerly of Wayland Baptist University
“It went really well and the audience was very receptive and laughed at all the right times. I loved how the opera created so many teachable moments. The students had to learn to make character choices, find balance between lovely melodic lines and overlapping conversations, and it was such relevant subject matter for them to draw on real life emotions while holding fast to vocal technique. These building blocks of opera theatre are vital to continue on successfully in this performance medium.”
- Crystal Zimmerman, Director, St. Martin’s University Opera
"It was well received and was a perfect vehicle for three of my younger students who had earned an opportunity more substantial than a scene but weren't quite ready for a longer work. It closed out the scenes program perfectly with energy and laughs. I encouraged my students to ad lib a good deal in the interludes. One of the biggest laughs came during the part where they shared comfort food: Jennifer blurted out ‘He's making me fat!’ The audience roared.”
- Dr. Arikka Gregory, Director of Opera, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA.
“Bound to be one of the most talked about portions of the production…”
- Rome News-Tribune, September 30, 2013, about the Shorter University Production.
"The Worst One Ever was a great hit! The audiences laughed every night, and the students really enjoyed getting into these characters! The music is accessible for undergraduates to learn and be able to perform at a high level, and is also very accessible musically for audiences less familiar with opera. I will definitely be keeping The Worst One Ever in mind for future Scenes Productions!"
- Dr. Deborah Popham, Shorter University Opera.
"Just a note to say thanks for The Worst One Ever. Our performance last week went very well. It connected with the audience and was a perfect project for the particular singers involved. I know you’ll continue to have success with it.
- Dr. Robert Engelhart, Northern Michigan University
"it was a great success...Definitely the most talked about scene. It's so clever! Having cell phones and "Sheesh" in an opera really spiced up the whole evening."
- Nancy Ellen Ogle, Director, University of Maine
"I love your piece! With fantastic nods to Bach and Handel, it is modern and accessible. It is so cleverly written, and perfect for the three young girls. I always find it so hard to find suitable repertoire for the tons of girls I have in the opera program. Thank you!!"
- Sasha Gerritson, Northeastern Illinois University
"I often work with young performers who aren't sure about opera, either the way it sounds, or how relevant it is today. And that's the difficult part of opera; if you can find a way to help young performers fall in love with it, they'll love it for the rest of their lives. And that's what this show does for me - it is a gateway drug to "real" opera! There are several stages of realization that come with the show. First of all, it's funny! It has those stereotypes every girl, boy (and parent) knows so well. It's also incredibly singable and memorable. But beyond that, there's so much more. You start hearing these delightful little parodies of other composers, and seeing parodies of every opera convention from the mad scene to the happy ending. And that's what makes it a wonderful show. The stereotypes and parodies which you can write off as humor actually become a brilliant performance innovation for the young singer - they engage and excite them because it's something they know! It brings out a confidence and eagerness to their performance which is a joy to watch. My performers love it. There's always a bit of madcap glee in their faces when they get to play with their phones, throw things at each other, eat, act like brats - these usually forbidden things. We always come away from rehearsal with a smile on our faces. You would not believe how far The Worst One Ever brought those three performers...vocally and dramatically. Watching them make THAT much progress over a semester was really special. Thank you for being so wonderfully easy to work with! The girls were happy to meet you after all the stories (good ones!) of you, Alex, Kensmoe, and Wayland. Thank you for helping make this production the best one ever!
- Corinna Browning Miller, Graduate Assistant and Director of three of the "Six Short Operas"; West Texas A&M University
"...a suitable mini-‐opera for colleges and universities because the work meets several needs of their corresponding music departments. First, the setting is appropriate as it takes place in a dorm room. Second, the work is performed in English and highlights the female voice. Third, the work is affordable and can be produced in nearly any venue due to the limited set requirements. Fourth, and perhaps most important, The Worst One Ever poses pedagogic challenges that may positively impact the technical growth of the undergraduate level singer. Lastly, Belshaw cleverly includes dramatic conventions in The Worst One Ever that are found in the standard repertoire. The character responses in The Worst One Ever are intended to be absurd; moreover they are intended to parallel the absurdity of mad scenes found in the standard repertoire. Thus this mini-‐opera is a learning tool that encourages students to find dramatic links between common circumstance and the heightened reactions often required in opera.
- HOWELL, JOURDAN LAINE, D.M.A., The Mini-‐Opera Concept: A Study of Short Works in the Opera Repertory and their Viability in an Educational Forum (2014) A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Musical Arts; Greensboro, NC 2014
"The opera was well received by both the performers and the audience. I think the pacing of the work is perfect to include on a scenes program. It is vocally very accessible for young singers, though I did have to conduct them for entrances. The topic is also very familiar to many college students, who can relate to the situation. Good work and I look forward to your next project.
- Dr. Frank Ward, University of Akron
"The Worst One Ever is such a great opera to introduce students and audiences to the genre since it is so relatable and funny!
- Dr. Rebecca Ballinger-Clark, Oklahoma Baptist University