Jordan College of Fine Arts
School of Music

Butler Opera Theater

OT 3OT 1 OT 5 OT 4OT 2Butler Opera Theater presents fully staged, full-length productions of music theatre in its varied forms: opera, musical theatre, cabaret and review. One full-length production is offered each year, with scenes from operas and musical theatre offered on alternating semesters. This integrated forum provides the singing/actor with opportunities to analyze characters, explore subtext, determine motivation and effectively portray a musical character to an audience. Exercises, assignments, and performance experiences expose students to the practices of different eras and genres, while expert vocal coaching acquaints students with appropriate style and presentation. Students will have access to master classes given by guest artists and will work with visiting professional directors, choreographers and designers.

Recent productions include: Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim, H.M.S. Pinafore by Arthur Sullivan, The Magin Flute by W.A. Mozart, The Medium by Gian-Carlos Menotti, Quilters by Barbara Damashek, and The Old Maid and the Thief by Gian-Carlos Menotti.

Current production: "Music of the Greatest Generation" featuring Butler Opera Theatre and Butler Jazz Ensemble.


 facebook icon


Thomas StudebakerMeet the Director: Thomas Studebaker 

Thomas Studebaker is an Assistant Professor of Voice and Director of the Lyric Theater Program at Butler University. Mr. Studebaker earned a Master of Music in Opera from Curtis Institute of Music and a Bachelor of Music in Voice from Illinois State University.

A member of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program from 1996 to 1999 at the Met, Mr. Studebaker had his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1997, in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. Since then, he has sung over 60 performances with the company. He has also held countless other roles at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Chile, L'Opéra de Montréal, Sarasota Opera Association, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Lake George Opera Festival,Opera Australia, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Pittsburgh Opera, Knoxville Opera and the Peoria Civic Opera.

In addition, he has enjoyed a successful concert career, having performed with the New York Philharmonic, Westdeutscher Rundfunks Orchester, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Breckenridge Music Institute Orchestra, the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera Orchestra of New York, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Symphony Orchestra, Hunstville Symphony, Nagoya Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphonica d'Italia.

He has sung under the baton of such distinguished conductors as Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel, James Levine, Sir Charles Mackerras, Kent Nagano, Roberto Abbado and Jesús López-Cobos to name only a few. In recognition of his outstanding performance ability, he was given a career grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, the Kirsten Flagstad Memorial Award from the George London Foundation, and the Wagner Award from the Liederkranz Foundation. In 1996 he was awarded the Robert M. Jacobson Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. He can also be heard with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in a Vaughan Williams performance on the Telarc label.

(317) 940-4247

Jim CaraherJames Caraher, Visiting Music Director

Opera conductor James Caraher, who served as Artistic Director of Indianapolis Opera for the past sixteen years, continues to "wow" his audiences and critics with impressive productions.  He has been acclaimed for his deliberate attention to ensemble casting and collaboration between all performers - in the pit and on stage.  The success of his collaborative philosophy is well stated in these remarks about his production of Wagner's  Der Fliegende Holländer:  "The real stars of this production, however, were Caraher and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra…the Indianapolis Opera artistic director had his players and singers integrated and balanced to near perfection."

Often referred to as "the singers' conductor," Mr. Caraher is a master at controlling the reins of the many forces of grand opera while clearly communicating his musical desires to each performer.  American Record Guide said of his Ballad of Baby Doe:  "Caraher led a gently effective accompaniment, with careful regard for the needs of his singers."  And Opera News posted that "The Indianapolis Symphony responded to Caraher's every wish" in Indianapolis Opera's production of Macbeth.

Caraher's recent seasons with the Indianapolis Opera have included performances of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Madama Butterfly, The CrucibleFalstaff, Werther, Les Contes d'Hoffman, Cosí Fan Tutte, Lucia di LammermoorLes Pêcheurs de Perles, The Merry Widow, Le Nozze di Figaro, Turandot, Carmen, La Fille du Regiment, Die Zauberflöteand Tosca

Caraher first realized his fondness for opera while a rehearsal accompanist for Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, New York.  From there he moved to The Syracuse Opera Company as assistant music director and chorus master ending his first season at the podium with a performance of Rigoletto.  Showing talent and poise, the young Caraher was promoted to music director and principal conductor.  He held this position until 1988 when a partnership between Syracuse Opera and Indianapolis Opera enabled him to expand his horizons to include the title and duties of music director for Indianapolis Opera.  For several seasons, he assumed the additional responsibility of music director for Opera Memphis.  His tenure as artistic director and principal conductor of Indianapolis Opera has been one of growing success for the company and its audiences.

In 2001, Caraher participated in a joint production of Porgy and Bess for the Indianapolis Opera and Opera Company of Philadelphia.  The sold-out production was proclaimed by The Philadelphia Inquirer as "one of the Opera Company of Philadelphia's great triumphs of music and stagecraft."

Caraher frequently serves as guest conductor for other symphonies and opera companies and has lent his talents to The Opera Company of Philadelphia, Nashville Opera, Kentucky Opera, Opera Memphis, New Jersey Opera Festival, Imperial Symphony Orchestra (Florida), El Paso Opera, Fargo-Moorhead Opera, Youngstown Symphony, Greater Buffalo Opera and Opera Delaware. He devotes much of his time to the development of young singers while directing the Indianapolis Opera Ensemble, the company's Young Artist Program, and has spent several summers as a music director for the Ash Lawn Highland Music Festival in Charlottesville, Virginia.  In addition to symphonic literature and opera, Mr. Caraher enjoys conducting musical theater and ballet, and is an active vocal coach and accompanist.

In 1988, Mr. Caraher was honored by his alma mater, Hamilton College, in Clinton New York, with the Hamilton College Alumni Medal for significant contributions to the performing arts.  In 2004, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his conducting debut, he was given the honor of being declared a Sagamore of the Wabash, Indiana's most prestigious civic award, by then Governor Joe Kernan, and was made a Distinguished Citizen of the City of Indianapolis by Mayor Bart Peterson.

Mr. Caraher has arranged and produced two audiotapes for children.  The first was a collection of safety songs called Play It Safe, and the second, Peace Is For Everyone, was a commission by the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife, Denise, and his two children, Paige and Patrick.