Recently Sally Stunkel, Associate Professor of Opera at the Oberlin Conservatory, was informed that the video from the production of the opera, “Strawberry Fields,” was awarded 2nd Prize in Division III of the 2015 Opera Production Competition sponsored by the National Opera Association (NOA). NOA is a national, nonprofit organization promoting artistic excellence and education in opera.
“Strawberry Fields,” composed in 1999 by Michael Torke, revolves around an unnamed elderly woman, with dementia. Professor Stunkel’s mother, a brilliant research psychologist and international dancer, was diagnosed with dementia and spent her last year at Kendal. This sparked her interest in this opera for winter term at the Conservatory.
Professor Stunkel and Michele Tarsitano-Amato, Kendal’s Creative Arts Therapy Director and Certified Dementia Specialist, collaborated in this intergenerational effort, which included Conservatory students, Oberlin College students and Kendal residents.
The opera, which opened at Kendal at Oberlin in January 2015 demonstrates the potential of a college town that treasures intergenerational experiences, and a subject matter that was treated with compassion and respect.
Accolades are due all students, Kendal residents, Michele Tarsitano-Amato and especially Professor Sally Stunkel who are responsible for an amazing production that touched the hearts of many.