About Southern Opera and Musical Theatre

The rich and varied history of opera and musical theater at The University of Southern Mississippi began in 1948 by Frank Earl Marsh with a fully-staged production directed by Lloyd Patten of Smetana's Bartered Bride, accompanied by full orchestra. Unlike a strictly choral music program, the opera and musical theatre program attracts both vocal and instrumental talent. Through the years, the high-quality performances have attracted more and better students who present marvelous productions for the community.

Major vocal artists who have made guest appearances with the USM Symphony throughout the years include Thomas Palmer (1972), Roberta Peters (1977), Denyce Graves (1998), Placido Domingo (2005) and Renee Fleming (2010).

In the 21st Century, our opera and musical theatre program enjoys strong administrative support, an excellent student orchestra, professional conductors and stage directors, and talented singing artists, ensuring Southern Miss's place alongside other major schools of music with its outstanding Southern Opera and Musical Theatre Company.

  • A College of The Arts that is fully accredited in music, art, theatre, and dance.
  • A 41-member music faculty of dedicated teacher-artists
  • Professional, experienced voice teachers and professional stage directors
  • An active opera program presenting fully staged productions each year
  • Frequent master classes and performances by musicians of international stature


Kimberley Davis, D.M.A.

J. Taylor Hightower, D.M.

Maryann Kyle, D.M.A.

Jonathan Yarrington, D.M.A.