Delores Ziegler '73 to deliver MC's commencement address

May 7, 2012
Contact: Maryville College Office of Communications

American mezzo-soprano and 1973 Maryville College alumna Delores Bowen Ziegler ’73 will give the commencement address to the College’s Class of 2012 during a ceremony scheduled for 6 p.m., May 20, on the lawn between Anderson Hall and Sutton Science Center.

Her address to the approximately 200 graduating seniors is “What’s In a Gift?” and the Scripture reading is John 4:5-10 and II Corinthians 9:15.

During the ceremony, Ziegler will also receive the honorary doctor of music degree from the 193-year-old liberal arts college.

“The Clayton Center for the Arts has been a regional center for the fine and performing arts since 2010, but Maryville College has long had a tradition of preparing students to contribute to the world,” said Dr. William T. “Tom” Bogart, president of Maryville College. “Professor Ziegler is an accomplished performer who has shared her gifts with audiences around the world as well as a respected educator who is preparing future artists.

“Her example will inspire this year’s graduates to pursue their dreams knowing that their experience at Maryville College has prepared them for success wherever they may go,” he added.

In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held in the Boydson Baird Gymnasium of Cooper Athletic Center.

Ziegler is internationally known

After earning her bachelor’s degree at Maryville College, Ziegler, a native of Decatur, Ga., earned a master of music degree from the University of Tennessee. In 1978, she made her operatic stage debut in Knoxville as Verdi’s Flora.

Heralded as “the mezzo we have been waiting for” by Martin Bernheimer in the Los Angeles Times, Ziegler saw her career take off in the early 1980s. She made her European operatic debut in Bonn, Germany, in 1981 as Dorabella, the mezzo-soprano role in Mozart’s Così fan tutte. A year later, she performed at the Cologne (Germany) Opera for the first time, and in 1984, she performed in the United Kingdom and Italy.

With a repertoire that extends from bel canto to verismo, this MC alumna has appeared in the world's greatest opera houses, including Vienna’s Staatsoper, Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, Paris’ L'Opéra Bastille, Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper. Other European appearances have included the Salzburg Festival, the Florence May Festival, the Glyndebourne Festival and the Athens Festival. In South America, she has performed at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro.

Stateside, Ziegler has appeared with virtually every important opera company, including the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the San Francisco Opera.

An acclaimed interpreter of bel canto mezzo roles, she has the honor of being the first singer in operatic history to sing Romeo in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi at the Bolshoi in Moscow, at the San Francisco Opera and in Japan. In another milestone, Ziegler is the most recorded Dorabella in operatic history, first on two audio recordings (one with Bernard Haitink on EMI and another on Teldec with Nikolaus Harnoncourt), and in a videodisc of the La Scala production with Riccardo Muti and in a film of Così directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle.

Ziegler is currently chair of the Voice/Opera Division of the School of Music at the University of Maryland.

Since her graduation in 1973, Ziegler has returned to her alma mater to perform on numerous occasions. Most recently, she performed with alumnus and professional singer John Wesley Wright ’87 during the 2010 opening gala for the Clayton Center for the Arts.

Graduation broadcast live

Streaming video of commencement exercises will be broadcast live through Tennessee Video and Internet Production, a Knoxville-based company. A direct link to the ceremony will be available at

Questions regarding the broadcast should be directed to Mary Leidig, director of marketing, at 865.981.8079.

Baccalaureate planned for 2 p.m.

The Rev. Edward J. Sykes, Methodist Mission Partner and circuit minister in Nassau, Bahamas, will be this year’s baccalaureate speaker. Sykes is the father of graduating senior Jonathan Sykes ’12 and sophomore student Thomas Sykes ’14.

The title of his address is “Ubuntu – I Am What I Am Because of Who We All Are.”

A native of England, Sykes holds degrees from Southampton University and the University of Birmingham. Ministering fulltime in the Methodist Church for the last 30 years, he has served in the British Methodist Conference, the United Church of Zambia, the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas and the Holston Conference in the United States.

Every summer since 2005, Sykes has brought a youth group from the Bahamas for a week at Camp Wesley Woods in Walland, where he also volunteers as a minister in residence.

Held in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre of the Clayton Center for the Arts, the baccalaureate ceremony will begin at 2 p.m., Sunday, May 20, and is open to the public.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.